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Space Idle

Kimchi in Space 270

rtknox00 writes "For astronauts spending months in space, the smallest touch of home can make a big difference. So when South Korea's first astronaut Ko San boards the International Space Station this April he'll be bringing along a hefty supply of kimchi, the national dish of his native country. While bringing a cherished food on a long journey might seem like a simple act, taking kimchi into space required millions of dollars in research and years of work." Science may never get Thorramatur in orbit.
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Kimchi in Space

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  • Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimbobborg ( 128330 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:00PM (#22546254)
    Yes, it's nice that they are allowing this, however, I suspect that the smell will permeate everything in the station. Just saying.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

      by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:10PM (#22546398) Homepage Journal
      Better than the smell burritos make AFTER they have been eaten.... I would hate to be aboard the first ship that stows away something from burrito king....
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

        by UnanimousCoward ( 9841 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:21PM (#22546568) Homepage Journal
        Dude, you know not of what you speak. Being an expert on vernacular-food-related flatulence:

        f(kimchi) >> f(buritto)

        • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

          by AmaDaden ( 794446 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:49PM (#22546970)
          If that's true there is some terrible news at the end of the article...

          They say kimchi's short shelf life has made exporting it expensive because the need for refrigeration and rapid transport. That has added to the cost in importing countries, limiting sales.

          "During our research, we found a way to slow down the fermentation of kimchi for a month so that it can be shipped around the world at less cost," Mr. Lee said. "This will help globalize kimchi."
          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Interesting)

            by stuntpope ( 19736 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:00PM (#22547156)
            I recently read an article about a famous western chef who spends a lot of time in Korea, who tries to popularize Korean cuisine and use its influences in his cooking.

            He was blunt about kimchi, stating that Koreans need to stop touting kimchi as their finest example of cuisine and westerners' first introduction to Korean food. Instead, they should focus on other Korean delicacies that are more likely to be agreeable to western palettes. If kimchi is the first Korean thing westerners eat, many will stop there and won't bother trying Korean food again. I know Koreans really love their kimchi, but it really is a very different taste for Americans. Nothing like a bowl of garlic and onion kimchi for breakfast, yum... Not!
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              That must be compared to what American culture turned Chinese delicacies into; the fast food junk that we know and eat for less than 5 buck a meal.

              Popularism doesn't always mean right as Elitism doesn't always mean the best.
            • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Informative)

              by Hsoi ( 5318 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @04:37PM (#22550300) Homepage

              Indeed. Being half-Korean myself I know the joys of kimchi but I know it's also rather a large leap for most Western palettes. What I've found works well, when I introduce folks to Korean food, is to start with good old Korean BBQ, like bulgogi [] and kalbi []. That usually goes over very well and opens up people to want to explore Korean food further. I of course do have kimchi on the table, since it is unique to Korean food. But I also put a little bowl of water on the table. Many people find it easier to try kimchi if they first dip it in the water to wash it off... it's not so stout on the first try. It's how my mother introduced me to kimchi, and how I introduced my wife and my kids (as well as many friends). Works well.

            • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by G-funk ( 22712 ) <> on Monday February 25, 2008 @06:55PM (#22551926) Homepage Journal
              Huh? I'm white as, and I love Kimchi. If Kimchi is the essence of Korean food, then it should be part of anybody's introduction to Korean food. Maybe Americans could just branch the fuck out, instead of trying to "westernise" their experience of other peoples' cultures. If you don't actually want to eat foreign food because it might be "icky" then don't. What's the point of having some dumbed down version?

              Now, have a slice of vegemite on toast ya girls ;-)
      • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

        by g0bshiTe ( 596213 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:40PM (#22546824)
        You aparently never have eaten Kimchi before.
        I dated a half Korean girl, her mom used to make it all the time.
        The stuff smells like the ass of a dead dog, tastes great, but leaves you with Montezumas revenge 10x worse than Taco Hell ever thought about doing.

        Why in space?
        Because in space no one can hear your scream.
        • The hell with kimchi in space...what about BEER?!?!?
        • I find that Kimchi actually improves my digestion. It's just fermented cabbage with some seasoning. It's not much different from Sauerkraut or lactic pickles. All of these fermented items have pretty pungent aroma, but a pretty big fan base. :)

          Now things like natto and stinky tofu, those are way over the top. Kimchi, if thought as a typical condiment fits in with the traditions of westerns. To consume a salt and sour "side" with a meal. like pickles or olives.

          I find that a little bit of kimchi on the side w
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Funny)

      by Translation Error ( 1176675 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:11PM (#22546404)
      Just wait until someone wants to bring his beloved durian aboard.
      • Cannibalism could be a problem. Research to get humans into space is already done but I'm thinking that's going to be even less popular with the rest of the crew than durian.
        • by TheLink ( 130905 )
          Durian? I bet you won't even get it into the spaceport ;).

          I actually like durian though.

          Fresh ripe durian smells good to me. It's the _stale_ durian smells that I don't like - e.g. what's left the next day after the "nice" smells are gone.

          As for kimchi I like the red chili + cabbage kimchi too. I'm not sure I'd like the smellier versions of kimchi :).

          On a related note, I didn't like "Chow Tofu" aka "stinky tofu". Tasted like it smelt... Oh yeah, check out belacan sometime - once you heat it up the smell get
    • Well, at least... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by msauve ( 701917 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:11PM (#22546406)
      it's not durian [].
      • by raddan ( 519638 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:03PM (#22547206)
        Funny story about that. A coworker of mine married a Vietnamese woman, and seeing as how they both love durian, they decided to have a durian wedding cake. Now, since the wedding was held in the US, most of the guests were, shall we say, unfamiliar with the fruit. The highlight of the evening was a small child who took a bite of the cake, and who burst into tears crying, "I can't make the taste go away!". My first experience with durian (in bubble tea) caused my colleagues at the table to start to complain that the restaurant must have seated them next to a trash can-- until they realized the smell was coming from my drink. Ahh, there really is nothing like durian in the West.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Mr. Sanity ( 1161283 )
        That reminds me: while living in Thailand, I discovered that you can eat and drink on the buses. That's always convenient when you've got to get across town & need breakfast too. However, every rule has its limits. Nobody is allowed to eat durian on the bus. I am so thankful too. Although the fruit is supposed to be delicious, it smells like used diapers.
    • by Yvanhoe ( 564877 )
      The people who modded this funny obviously never were in a room where kimchi had been opened.
    • Heh - I just hope they have some really, really good methane filters in the station's HVAC system.

      It won't be the food that'll stink up the place so bad, but the unholy farts that can be generated afterwards.

      (The stuff tastes great when it's done right --especially the hotter Winter stuff-- but it damned sure reeks to high Heaven on both ends of the digestive tract...)


      • by TheLink ( 130905 )
        "but the unholy farts that can be generated afterwards"

        Imagine the Korean astronaut testing the specific impulse of his personal "reaction jet".

        Whilst the other astronauts test their "forced reactions".

        Koreans are taking repulsion propulsion to new heights (or high heaven as some might say).
    • Not only does it permeate the surroundings, the over-powering garlic smell emanates from the eater of it as if seeping from their pores. Plus, it's not for nothing that there is the term "kimchi fart". Having it sit around on the plate or opened jar is not so noticeable, it's the eating of it, or worse, heating it up, that is so smelly. As for anything else in the refrigerator, well, how about a nice glass of oniony-tasting milk?
  • by monomania ( 595068 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:00PM (#22546258)
    ...there goes my haggis.
  • What about Coca-Cola? No geek can go without it.
    • Re:Coca-Cola (Score:5, Informative)

      by hakubi ( 666291 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:05PM (#22546314)
      They tried this awhile ago. You can't have carbonated beverages in a near-weightless environment because belching would result in vomiting up your food. As a result, the Coke had to be flat. Basically, it tasted really nasty and they've not tried it since that I know of.
      • Add Jack Daniels, that way you render two drinks of questionable palate into a passable embrocation. It's off topic, I know, but hey this is slashdot and they are brands on par with Microsoft.
    • Coca-Cola? Hand in your geek card now.

      Valid answers are the likes of Red Bull and other energy drinks that are banned in some countries because of the amount of stimulants in them. Also acceptable are amounts of coffee that are either measured in gallons or espresso and Turkish coffees.

      The basic rule is that a geek drink should contain so much caffeine or other stimulants that your heart stops, thus requiring another mouthful to get it started again.

      Coke? Hell even Arts Majors drink that.
  • Uh (Score:2, Insightful)

    by afidel ( 530433 )
    Millions? How many scientist man years does it take at ~$300K/year to study a single food item?
    • by MrMr ( 219533 )
      About 0.1.
      But they also needed:
      a project manager with secretarial staff at 600K/year
      at least two IP lawyers with secretarial staff at 1000K/year
      a PR department fully staffed at 1000K/year
      a HR department to make sure the right people are hired at 300K/year
      an IT department for all of the above at 600K/year
      a building with sufficient parking space at 200K/year
      a pound of cabbage.
    • by blueg3 ( 192743 )
      Scientists working with no equipment or supplies could take a very long time to make much progress at all.

      Creating or purchasing custom equipment and infrastructure is a huge expense. (Guys in their basements have lower infrastructure costs, but much worse success rates.)
    • Re:What country? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:24PM (#22546600)
      Where do scientists earn $300k/year?

      In the U.S., you have to be a tenured department chair, with a Howard Hughes fellowship or the likes of it... in order to make $300k/year as a scientist. I figure about 0.001% of all scientists fit that bill.

      Graduate Students: $0 - $25k/year ($40-60k/year in the industry, as a technician)
      Post Docs: $25k-35k/year ($40-100k/year in the industry, as a junior scientist, i.e. technician)
      Fellows: $35-50k/year
      Assistant/Associate professors: $50-60k/year
      Full Professors w/o fellowships, etc: $60-150k/year

      The vast majority of all scientists in the U.S. have trouble making ends meet... not earning $300k/year... and I am talking about the BIOMEDICAL scientists, who are the HIGHEST PAID.
      • by afidel ( 530433 )
        A scientist making $150K/year probably has a total cost to their employer close to $300K/year once all the ancillaries including retirement are factored in.
  • mm.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by newbie56k ( 1245896 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:02PM (#22546286)
    So thats where our tax money went... researching the fluid mechanics of kimchi in 0 g..
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      Don't knock it. It's designed to double as a medicinal vomit-inducer for the Americans onboard.
  • by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:06PM (#22546336)
    The spice! It's in my eyes! AUUUGHH! It burns!! The goggles... they do nothing!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:08PM (#22546368)
    in space no one can hear you fart.
  • I thought they banned "Mexican night" on the ISS because of the limited air supply, but they are letting this guy take his spicy sauerkraut? This kimchi thing sets a dangerous precedent.
  • Fresh Kimchi? (Score:5, Informative)

    by PIPBoy3000 ( 619296 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:11PM (#22546408)
    I see they were taking it already canned, but why not get it freshly fermented? The hard part about Kimchi is the fermentation step. Since you can't bury it in the ground as tradition requires, they've fortunately come up with a patented fermentation system []:

    A Kimchi fermentation or cool storage apparatus comprises a chamber for either fermenting or coolly storing Kimchi, the chamber being formed of a hollow barrel with opened upper end; a cover for either entering or enclosing the chamber; a thermoelectric module for heating or cooling the chamber, the thermoelectric module being mounted on the outside of the bottom wall of the chamber; a power supplying section for supplying electric power with the thermoelectric module; a temperature sensing section for sensing the interior temperature of the chamber; and, a microprocessor for receiving the temperature signal from the temperature sensing section, for controlling the power supplying section to keep the chamber at a reference fermentation temperature for a predetermined time duration while fermenting Kimchi, and keep the chamber at a reference storage temperature while coolly storing Kimchi.
    I know people complain about the high costs of our space program, but the spin-off technologies make our lives so much better.
    • by cromar ( 1103585 )
      You know... I have a big (gallon) jar that I just stick in the fridge for a few weeks. Works fine!
    • Re:Fresh Kimchi? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by wodgy7 ( 850851 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:26PM (#22546634)
      Believe it or not, those kind of high-tech kimchi refrigerators are *huge* in Korea now. They're pretty much the #1 "must have" home appliance in Korea. There's a good Wikipedia article: Kimchi fridge []
    • I see they were taking it already canned, but why not get it freshly fermented?
      Yes, I can see it now: A kimchi jar in the corner... Perfict. NASA could spend millions on the technology, but Hyundi will bring it in for $7599.99...
    • I see they were taking it already canned, but why not get it freshly fermented? The hard part about Kimchi is the fermentation step. Since you can't bury it in the ground as tradition requires, they've fortunately come up with a patented fermentation system []:
      TFA says they do not want the fermentation bacteria and other related microbes up in space. So, no.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zordak ( 123132 )
      I'm still waiting for the invention that they use to get the kimchi scent out of the ISS fridge.
  • Ehe Future (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pizzach ( 1011925 ) <> on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:11PM (#22546418) Homepage
    I can't wait until we see kimchi commercialized in this new form. Maybe it will be something like instant ramen noodle is to us now?
  • And it's not a "comfort food" by any stretch of the imagination. It's pretty much eaten only out of respect for one's ancestors.
    • Okay, I'll bite on this troll-of-a-msg. You're kidding, right? I know lots of NON-Koreans who consider it comfort food.

      And it's not a "comfort food" by any stretch of the imagination. It's pretty much eaten only out of respect for one's ancestors.

      • Err... Read the title of his post. He's not talking about Kimchi. I'm guessing that he's talking about Thorramtur [] since the word he used shared a lot of the same letters, only the first character didn't show up because it's a thorn and not a "th".

        And if you'll read the Wikipedia article about it, you'll see what he's talking about. I think I just about lost my appetite for lunch after reading that. Good Lord, what people used to eat when they were poor and had to make use of the whole animal! I mean, i
  • Great idea (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Stanislav_J ( 947290 )

    Bad enough any space station eventually ends up smelling like a men's room in Jersey City after a while.....they really want to add kimchi to the mix?

    I encountered kimchi once. Imagine, if you will, the stinkiest, foulest, most gag-inducing fart you have ever smelled. Kimchi is worse.

  • Kimchi stinks when you cook it. It just does. Especially in a microwave. Ye gods, the stench.

    At least if the Korean's gastronomy is used to it, he won't foul the air twice.

    But the Westerners had better lay off the stuff, or there will be hell to pay.
    • I'm a caucasian American who has been to Korea twice, and I love kimchi. And I don't recall fouling the air too badly, or at least nobody told me if I did. The smell and taste seem to vary, probably depending on how long it has fermented before you eat it. Kimchi isn't normally cooked, but I've eaten it grilled once and it didn't stink at all (though that kimchi was relatively mild to begin with).

      If you RTFA, you'll find that the "space kimchi" has been irradiated to stop the fermentation process, and ha
      • Ditto. I've been to Korea twice. The Kimchi varied, was never too offensive and I have no memory of it smelling too bad. It didn't make me fart. I think people are making this stuff up.

        However there is nothing to compare in nastiness to the icky, squishy, fishy stuff I had to eat at some super classy Seoul restaurant, except maybe the silkworm lavae they sell on the street to kids.

  • The space stations is a small enclosed space with air recirculating. The other astronaunts will thank South Korea for spending the millons of dollars ensuring that Kimchi is safe for space. Without the addition of alpha-galactosidase things could potentially get really nasty the day after eating Kimchi. The thought of the astronauts moving around the cabin being "jet propelled", leaves a silly grin on my face.

  • I think the subject says it all.
  • "Just a moment. Just a moment. I've just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit. It's going to go 100% failure in 72 hours."

    Dak-Ho, would you suit up and go check that out, please?

  • by jht ( 5006 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:30PM (#22546674) Homepage Journal
    Taking kimchi up in space - man, the smell of that stuff is brutal - and in space, you can't exactly crack the windows when he starts farting now, can you? Seriously, just because you _can_ take a smelly, nasty food up in space because people of your ethnicity eat it doesn't mean you _should_ take it up. There's the "bringing home with you so you don't get so lonely" deal but there's also the "having to live in a confined space with several other people that have nothing in common with you" deal. And bringing food that has a >0 chance of really bugging your fellow astronauts isn't the greatest idea. What's next, having an Icelandic astronaut bring some håkarl up, too?

    • From the Hákarl Wikipedia page []:

      Chef Anthony Bourdain, who has travelled extensively throughout the world sampling local cuisine for his Travel Channel show No Reservations, has described shark orramatur as "the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing" he has ever eaten.

      I think I'll opt out on the fermented/rotted shark. Thanks.
  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:44PM (#22546898) Journal
    where the ever diligent Frank Burns saw some Koreans burying mines or bombs in a field near their base. He went out with metal detectors and a few helpers to find and remove these nefarious devices. Hawkeye and B.J. tagged along to see how things went.

    Needless to say, Frank finds one of these bombs and uncovers it. As he's standing there practically gloating to Hawkeye about being right, Hawkeye promptly opens the top, to Frank's evident distress, at which point a pungent odor wafts into the air. Hawkeye then lets Frank in on what's been happening and explains these are kim-chi pots the villagers are burying.

    Funny what one can learn from watching t.v.
  • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @12:48PM (#22546952) Homepage
    In my own experience, if you live in a place long enough you adapt to the food such that you feel just as weird going "back in the other direction". I remember walking around a western supermarket for the first time in years and thinking "Ok, what the hell am I supposed to eat here".

    Time to adapt for me personally; 2-3 years, and 3 years tops. After that, no craving for food that you were previously used to eating. You get totally localized.

    I guess my point is, instead of packaging food that is obviously unsuitable for the purpose (because it fucking stinks for one), why not train to live on food that is especially suitable for space flight.
    • by Skim123 ( 3322 )

      In my own experience, if you live in a place long enough you adapt to the food such that you feel just as weird going "back in the other direction"

      Eh, only if you dive in head first. But a lot of people like to still eat their home country's food, or mix elements from their original culture in with the culture of their new home. Otherwise there wouldn't be the Asian supermarket, the Indian supermarket, and so on. Those places aren't filled with white folk looking to try a new fried rice or curry recipe.

  • when you can get Kimchi in orbit, but not on the Upper East Side? My Korean girlfriend and I once went on a quest to find kimchi at a store near her apartment on 72nd and Lexington. The response from every store (Gristedes, D'Ag, etc.) was "Kim-what?"

  • The space program has started down a slippery - and stinky - slope.

  • the problem will be when the first astronaut from lichtenstein insists on bringing his limburger cheese


    try living in a tin can with the permeating odor of certain cheeses and millions of dollars will be needed to spent on suicide prevention measures

    as it is, i believe astronauts have a problem with fungus and foot odor already

    hmmm... on the other hand, maybe that actually prepares them well for limburger cheese, and it will be well tolerated?

    just wait until the first indonesian or thai or filipino (a m []
  • Interesting, even impressive, but call me when they get surstromming into orbit.
  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:22PM (#22547490) Homepage Journal
    My wife is Korean, and she can't stand to be away from Korean food. We live in the U.S., but have a couple of Korean marts around and so she generally eats Korean food about 80% of the time at home. When we go camping, she takes Korean food. When we go on vacation, she can maybe go 4 days without, but by the 5th day, we have to find a Korean restaurant. Paris wasn't so bad, as there were a few Korean restaurants to choose from. There was only one on Kauai, though.
    I used to like most kinds of Korean food, but after having so much of it for so many years, I've gotten burned out on it, and now the only things I like are the pul-go-gi and the gal-bi. Imagine the l as sounding more like a single syllable lr, and the g sounding both like a g and a k, and that should give you an idea how it sounds.
  • Surströmming (Score:4, Informative)

    by wiredlogic ( 135348 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:35PM (#22547706)
    Some non-cabbage based kimchi is okay but we should never let the Swedes send up Surströmming []. That stuff is like a biological weapon.
  • Thorramatur (Score:3, Informative)

    by BotnetZombie ( 1174935 ) on Monday February 25, 2008 @01:49PM (#22547926)
    I wonder why no-one is talking about the wonderful thorramatur mentioned in the summary (some examples on the wiki page) []. Sour lumps of fat, ram's balls, urinated sharks, the list is lovely. Fortunately we only have to eat this once a year, with large amounts of brennivín [], which is not drinkable unless consumed with the otherwise unedible food specimens spoken of before.
    I guess every country has its own favourite unedible food.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I wish I'd read this before I spent $200 buying brennivin in Reykjavik to bring home to friends so they could sample something interesting. I now have about $195 in "thanks but I think you can finish this off" returned gifts in the liquor cabinet and *I* am sure not going to drink that stuff.
      Truly lovely country, would be thrilled to live there, except y'all eat stuff my dog tries to roll in.
  • Worse than kissing a smoker.
  • All this time I thought "kimchi" was a euphemism for "shit".

    You know the saying, "We're in deep kimchi now..."

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"