NOT Astronaut Food
May 14, 2020 10:34 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to think of food that is vaguely space-themed or astronomy-themed -- but NOT astronaut food -- for a birthday celebration.

Mini McGee hoped to go to an escape room for his birthday this year but that's a big NOPE due to Covid. But we got an "escape room in a box" to do as a family at home, which is a mystery about an astronomer in 1869. So I'm trying to think of foods I can make for dinner (and snacks!) that are vaguely space or astronomer related. It can even just be the names! So far all I've really come up with is starfruit on the salad. Decorating the cake for space is easy, but I've got to come up with a main course and some side dishes here that are at least vaguely themey. Maybe an appetizer. We'll all wear jewels and paper tophats and have a silly 1869 dinner as fake past astronomers while talking with fake posh accents before solving our escape room.

No fish, and no mashed potatoes! (Also I already looked at actual menus from the era, and, ew, no.) Normally I'm willing to drive all over creation to gather weird ingredients for these birthday dinners, but obviously right now I'm constrained to what I can get at the regular grocery store in a single trip. Things that require a lot of time are fine, but weird ingredients won't work. (Even starfruit might be too hard to get! But in that case I'll cut apples slices into stars or something.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee to Food & Drink (43 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

It's not strictly astronaut food, but you could have them watch this video with (MeFi's Own) Adam Savage and Chef Traci Des Jardins making Space Burritos, which Chris Hadfield then makes on the ISS.

Space themed food might include moon pies, Starburst candies or blue-colored milk.
posted by bondcliff at 10:43 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Tang is sort of the obvious drink here, I know that's technically astronaut food but perhaps an exception. But I think you just want to go for bad puns probably. CopperniCUSTARD and Tycho BRATWURST Edwin HUBBLE AND SQUEAK, that sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn at 10:44 AM on May 14 [11 favorites]

Starlight mints
posted by oflinkey at 10:45 AM on May 14

You definitely need a moon-cheese kind of thing, maybe a cheeseball?

It's sorta astronaut food: the astronauts on the ISS rely heavily on flour tortillas because they don't make crumbs and can easily be produced to be shelf stable for ages, so they eat a lot of X on Tortilla even when X is not normally tortilla food, like pouch jambalaya or palak paneer or beans. But even quesadillas could be fun (and you could paint spacescapes on them with paprika, turmeric, sour cream, salsa). Or the space burritos linked above.

If you have a round waffle maker, you could make either sweet or savory waffle planets.

If you've got some star cutouts, you could make sweet potato/potato, zucchini, and radish, roasted stars. With a small round cutter or a bottle mouth, you could cut rounds into crescent moons.

Ziti or another larger tube pasta could be telescopes.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:50 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

I am extremely down for pun-names but not good at thinking of them, if any of you have any brilliant ones. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:52 AM on May 14

Heat up frozen onion rings and pin them to melon balls with toothpicks: Saturn snacks!
posted by prewar lemonade at 10:54 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

I know you said a cake was easy, but I have also seen so many cool galaxy-themed desserts, if you're the type to be able to pull this off (don't know if I am!). These cookies and chocolate bark look do-able to me.

Can you use a cookie cutter to make star-shaped mini sandwiches? These are really cute.
posted by nuclear_soup at 10:54 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

What age will Mini be? Might help with suggestions that are age-appropriate. With the pun response I'm thinking at least middle school?
posted by citygirl at 10:54 AM on May 14

Really too bad on the no mashed potatoes call because you're THISCLOSE to Alan Shepard's Pie.
posted by phunniemee at 11:00 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]

I have made a pizza decorated with toppings to look like the solar system...
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:03 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Pizza with toppings in the shape of a constellation?
posted by nuclear_soup at 11:03 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]

Galaxy ice cream.
posted by terretu at 11:03 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Toad in the [Black] Hole?

You could make a sausage roll ring to represent the rings of Saturn...

As I’m sure you know, arugula is known as ‘rocket’ in the UK. Make a rocket salad and bung in a few sunflower seeds (SUNflower, see?) - not that your average child is going to be overwhelmed with joy at that.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 11:03 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Green cheese!
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:04 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

"What age will Mini be? "

Eleven! You can certainly give me your possibly-too-adult puns and I can take them, leave them, or adjust them. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:08 AM on May 14

Sun-daes for dessert.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:09 AM on May 14

Milky Way bars.
(For my son's 21st birthday, I made Stonehenge out of fun-size Milky Way bars.)
posted by FencingGal at 11:22 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I very much doubt you’ll actually want to make this, but stargazy pie?
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 11:25 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Rocket (a.k.a. arugula) salad
Moon pies for dessert

Jupiter cake is a thing.
posted by nantucket at 11:27 AM on May 14

…and I guess he’s too young for Nipples of Venus, too.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 11:27 AM on May 14

Don't know where you are and if you have the same chocolate bars as us, but Mars Bars and Milky Ways are surely a shoo-in...
posted by penguin pie at 11:47 AM on May 14

Flambé was the new hotness in the 19th Century, so maybe something like Bananas Flammarion?
(ignoring that Bananas Foster dates from the 1950s…).
posted by zamboni at 11:54 AM on May 14

I’ve seen fruit skewers that look like rocket ships - basically you choose something pointy for one end, then roundish things, then cut the last thing to kind of look like flames. Lots of ideas if you image search rocket fruit skewers. I bet you could do something similar with the meat of your choice and some vegetables, would be a good appetizer!
posted by insectosaurus at 12:12 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

I'm not entirely sure what a meat-eoroid would involve, but it's a thought.
posted by eponym at 12:19 PM on May 14

Peanuts! There's a tradition that the guys in Mission Control eat peanuts during a launch for good luck.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:21 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

Technically astronaut food but I wouldn't be able to resist making a corned beef sandwich. Call it a Nicolaus Corn-pernacus Beef Sandwich for layers of spaciness. (or a Vera Rubin Reuben!)

I'm reminded of the little hematite spheroids that the rovers found on Mars, which were referred to as "blueberries" when they were trying to figure out what they were. Blueberry muffins?

If you could find pumpkin/carrot cake flavored Oreos and butterscotch pudding (and maybe gummy aliens or stars?) you could make a Martian soil version of Mud and Worms.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:46 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Celestial Seasonings tea comes in many flavors; good as-is, and as a recipe ingredient (example)
Astrolabe-looking top crust on a pot pie (the fluted edges as mater; pastry or other edible decoration rete, rule, etc. on top)
Veggie cakes, or other round-shaped food, with ranch/white salad dressing as phases of the moon (ex. - cookie platter) Mini-quiches, as an appetizer, with a different light dressing?
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:57 PM on May 14

Make dark chocolate covered potato chips and sprinkle them with pop rocks to look like stars in the sky!
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:16 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I don't know how old Mini McGee is, but if he has seen 2001, you could use a food processor and put everything in a pouch with a straw, like here.
posted by nushustu at 1:30 PM on May 14

A chunk of dry ice in the middle of a muffin/cookie/brownie might be a plausible comet. As long as nobody puts the dry ice in their mouth and keeps it there, it won't hurt anyone.

The index of refraction of gelatin isn't far from glass. If you've got a laser pointer, you could make a number of edible 2D telescope demos to play with. (There are also other fun gelatin optics demos online.)

An upside-down or spinning astronaut eating contest may be a bit silly, but I'd enjoy it.
posted by eotvos at 1:32 PM on May 14

(Also, depending on which 1869 astronomer you're talking about, you might consider making a gelatin prism or a cookie eclipse.)
posted by eotvos at 1:42 PM on May 14

Meatballs for meteors? And maybe you can get some space-themed pasta shapes? Those ones were the first that came up on Google and happen to be Canadian, but maybe there's something similar where you are.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 1:55 PM on May 14

This might be astronaut food, I don't know. But in my imagination astronauts today eat things out of squeeze containers and foil packets. But in 1869 that wouldn't be available so everything would either be jarred or canned. You probably don't have the equipment to can your own meals but what if you were to make a meal consisting of his favourite foods but everything is served in jars with interesting labels?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:12 PM on May 14

Mercury - MerCured meats and (moon) cheese board
Venus & Earth - Ok work with me on this one: bEarth of Venus -- I'm thinking melt some chocolate into some food grade seashell silicone molds (but not completely filling and creating an indent) then adding either an Earth chocolate lollipop, or maybe using a cookie cutter to bake earth shaped cookies and placing it inside.
Mars - a Mars bar or Mars-hmallows
Jupiter - JupiTurnover (apple turnover)
Saturn - SaTurnips (lots of turnip side dish recipes out there. This parmesan crusted crushed turnips looks pretty good).
Uranus - UraNest -- Either sweet or savory, there are lots of different nest options. Like a shredded potato nest with sour cream in the middle or a chocolate bird's nest.
Neptune - NepTuna Sandwich (I know, no fish). Maybe Roasted ParsNep-tune (parsnips).

Spaghetti and Meateor-balls
Galaxy Mirror Cake - if you're feeling extra :)

Sounds like a fun party. Hope Mini McGee has a happy birthday!
posted by tealeaf522 at 4:18 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

Teriyaki meatballs squeezed into pineapple rings to look like Saturn.
posted by lakeroon at 6:06 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]

Nachos, so Mini McGee can announce that My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nachos.
posted by zamboni at 6:09 PM on May 14 [5 favorites]

Nachos either way, Pluto Partisans. 1869 is well before the discovery of Pluto in 1930. Let's just ignore that nachos were invented in 1943. What else starts with N? Nesselrode pudding?
posted by zamboni at 6:28 PM on May 14

I have been pondering this question all day! I saw a post on facebook about 'fruit rockets' - basically fruit and marshamallows on skewers with the first and last being the appropriate shape.

And I had a brainwave- you're trying to do space, but I guess 'old' space, not 1960s space. What about Le Voyage Dans la Lun (A Trip to the Moon) by Georges Méliès (1902) - the 'moon' in that looks to me like a cream pie, so could you make the moon with a creamy topping, optional rocket embedded in it? I admit I haven't watched the whole film so not sure of the appropriateness for an 11 year old, but it could be fun.
(I think it was the marshmallows that made the connection.)
posted by freethefeet at 2:00 AM on May 15

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