NASA orders French food to be launched into space

US space agency NASA has asked none other than Breton food company Hénaff to team up with renowned French chef Alain Ducasse to design and package a “special occasion” menu of treats for astronauts heading to the International Space Station next summer.

NASA orders French food to be launched into space
NASA has asked none other than Breton food company Hénaff to team up with renowned chef Alain Ducasse to package a “special occasion” menu for astronauts. Photos: WB/Youtube/Jan Bezucha

According to an announcement this week Breton company Hénaff – known for feeding French fishermen with their tins of pork paté – has been awarded a contract by US space agency NASA.

The Finistère-based firm, with 214 employees, will work together with Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse to package a menu of 25 very special dishes à la française, according to French daily Le Parisien.

The meals – to be unwrapped by astronauts on the International Space Station on special occasions such as birthdays – were dreamed up by Ducasse, before being settled on by NASA and the astronauts themselves.

“The dishes were specially conceived and we were asked to sterilize them and package them in ultra-light aluminium boxes,” Loïc Hénaff, boss of the company told Le Parisien on Thursday.

Hénaff is the only French company that used conservation and packaging methods that comply with USDA (US Department of Agriculture) standards.

So what will the astronauts be tucking into on celebratory occasions after their launch next summer?

Celeriac purée, Breton lobster, duck breast confit with caper sauce, organic quinoa with seaweed, Menton lemon condiment, and to hold the birthday candles – chocolate cake, according to Le Parisien.

While those delicacies might get American astronauts drooling, it's unlikely Ducasse and Hénaff opted for some of the more adventurous French foods out there, such as these stomach-churning French specialties chosen by readers of The Local.

GALLERY: 12 'disgusting' French dishes, and why we should try them

What would you order as a special meal while travelling in space?

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French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region

The French city of Nantes is to hold a referendum on exiting the Pays-de-la-Loire region and becoming part of Brittany instead.

French town of Nantes votes for referendum on exiting Pays-de-la-Loire region
Photo: AFP

On Friday the town council of Nantes voted in favour of requesting the French government organise a referendum so local people can have their say about whether they wish to remain in the Pays-de-la-Loire region or become part of Brittany – a region that many say the town has more historic and cultural connections to.

The vote on Friday was carried by 56 votes and concerns whether the département of Loire-Atlantique – which contains Nantes – should move regions.

READ ALSO The 20 essential maps you need to understand Brittany


The vote follows a petition in 2018 which gathered 105,000 signatures.

Nantes mayor Johanna Rolland said: “This strong citizen mobilisation cannot be ignored. It reflects the aspiration of our fellow citizens to be consulted to a greater extent, in a context of essential revitalisation of our democracy.”

The desire of people in the Loire-Atlantique to become Breton isn't new.
The départment was part of Brittany until World War II, when it was separated and made part of the neighbouring region by the Vichy government. That region eventually became the Pays-de-la-Loire in 1955.
The issue has been simmering since then and pro-Breton voices have become louder in recent years as they hope to take advantage of a law that allows départments to chose which region they belong to via a referendum.
The town, which is the historic seat of the Dukes of Brittany, also declared its intention to  “set up a permanent pluralist body to engage in a genuine consultation with the State on the organisation of this referendum, organise an in-depth debate on the issues and consequences of a redistribution in order to feed the citizen debate, and formulate proposals to strengthen cooperation between Nantes and the other Breton territories”. 
However the referendum will have to be approved by both the national government and the regional authorities.

France's regions were reorganised in 2016 and several were merged to create the current 13 regions of mainland France.

Brittany currently covers four départements – Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d'Armor, Finistère and Morbihan – while Pays-de-la-Loire covers Loire-Atlantique, Maine-et-Loire, Mayenne, Sarthe and Vendée. Nantes is currently the largest town in the region.