Book Reviews and Interviews

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In July of 2017 Talia Avian of Travel & Leisure interviewed me for an article. It has some nice graphics, including a photo of Northwest’s Japanese-style service from the 1950’s that I hadn’t seen before.

In May of 2017 Sergio Espinosa of El Mercurio in Santiago, Chile called me for an interview… for those who speak Spanish, here’s the result. El Mercurio page 3

In January of 2017 I was guest on an episode  about the history of food in flight for season 2, episode 11 of the Cooking Channel TV show “Food: Fact or Fiction.” It doesn’t seem to be online…

06 December 16 – an interview with Jennifer Chausee runs in Wired Magazine.

04 February 16 – Leanna Garfield of Tech Insider interviewed me for a story called “We’re in a golden age of airplane food — for some people“. I’m afraid I sounded a bit pessimistic…

24 October 15 – I was interviewed by Andrew Harris of the SoCal Restaurant Show about food in flight. The podcast is HERE

16 September 15- The erudite Chris Nichols of Los Angeles Magazine did a Q&A with me about the history of airline food called Fine Dining At 30,000 Feet.

29 July 15- Libi Astaire wrote a lengthy review of my book for Mishpacha Magazine, published in Tel Aviv.MispachaArticle

She liked it… click to read the whole thing.FF 452 – Picnic in the Sky

02 April 15- Carol Hanson Hall penned a nice review of my book for Reflectionsthe newsletter of the Northwest Airlines History Centre. You can see a PDF of it here.

12 March 15 – Juliette Rossant wrote a review of my book for her Super Chef Blog.

03 March 15- Anne Billingsley Kerr, author of “Fujiyama Trays and Oshibori Towels” and a noted historian of Northwest Airlines, gave the book a wonderful review on her website.

Pre-publication reviews:

Since 1783, when the first passenger balloon was launched, the history of food has included the challenge of preparing and serving food while airborne. Foss offers a historical look at how meals have been prepared and consumed, in wartime and peacetime, during air travel in vehicles ranging from balloons to zeppelins, from airplanes to spacecraft. Drawing on archives and interviews, Foss includes photographs, diagrams, and menus depicting the fabulous and the rudimentary, everything from gourmet meals to snacks. As air travel evolved from a luxury for adventurers, with meals to match, to fairly mundane, crowded journeys offering peanuts, inventors and airlines have struggled with the dangers of maintaining safety and hygiene thousands of miles in the air. Foss offers details behind the technology and culinary arts in flights from the 1928 Lufthansa flight that first offered hot meals to the Hindenburg in 1936 to the food technology, including Tang, that grew out of the space-exploration programs. This fascinating book includes recipes the airlines collected and adapted for home use.

From the soil to the plate, the story of food is a fascinating, and at times unpalatable journey. An often overlooked aspect of the gastronomical journey has also grown from the ground, but much higher than our tables, up into the atmosphere on balloons to commercial airlines and beyond into Earth orbit and even to the moon, where simple plates become irrelevant. Many of us now fly around the world and either enjoy, or complain about the meals we eat in that journey. In Food in the Air and Space Richard Foss reveals the surprising and at times challenging developments over the past century in the quest to make food palatable in the air and beyond.
David J. Shayler, FBIS, Astronautical Historian, Astro Info Service, Ltd, UK

Richard Foss invites us on a food journey, one many of us have made, and yet forgotten about: What we eat while flying. The trials and tribulations of humanity’s struggle to fly are matched only by one other quest: what’s for dinner? With verve and wit, Foss uncovers many nuggets of information that describe how a most basic human activity becomes a logistical nightmare in flight and in space.

Where flight was cause for celebration, the appropriate menu was always available, only on the ground. On the other hand, entertaining passengers on board with food became a whole new challenge that also helped airlines brand themselves. And just when one thought that a measly peanut was just that, Foss notes how it became as much part of a marketing identity as a fine “Côte du Rhône.”

Readers will derive a new understanding and appreciation for how hard it actually is to develop a proper airline menu. And our admiration for astronauts and cosmonauts should increase when considering what they were told to ingest to survive in space! Jaded travellers as much as casual ones will find Foss’ survey quite informative, and might want to add their experiences to it. It is an enjoyable descriptive survey on a long discussed, yet rarely researched topic.
Guillaume de Syon, professor of history, Albright College

Whatever you might want to know about the history of eating in flight Richard Foss has the answers. Foss is particularly strong on the relationship between technology and food and food and the airlines’ commercial priorities. The research underpinning the text is impressive. While starts with eighteenth-century balloon flight and ends with space travel, the focus of the book is commercial aviation. A valuable contribution to the history of airline food, a genre of cuisine that most of us frequently experience but know very little about.
William Rubel, food historian

In a world where food is something we share socially with friends and loved ones, Foss’ illustrative history of food in the air sheds light on why and how airplanes have slowly but surely become the one place where food doesn’t foster a warm social environment.
Amy Shira Teitel, Spaceflight Historian and Writer, Popular Science

While you are flying somewhere, crammed into a narrow space like a canned sardine offered only a meagre soft drink or maybe tiny bag of peanuts, or even a barely edible meal, leaf through your copy of Food in the Air and Space and dream on about the glory days of dining while flying. This is a totally engrossing survey of what people have cooked and eaten while hurtling through or above the skies, from the Hindenburg’s Fattened Duckling, Bavarian Style to TWA’s Le Canard a L’Orange Au Grand Mariner, to “Tubes and Cubes” food aboard spacecraft, and more. You will even look fondly back to days when people actually looked forward to flying and dining.
Bruce Kraig, professor emeritus of History, Roosevelt University, Chicago, Founding President, Culinary Historians of Chicago; author, Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America and Hot Dog: A Global History

Richard Foss’ book Food in the Air & Space is remarkable for not only telling the remarkable history and strategy story of cuisine above the clouds, but in an unexpected parallel intricacy weaves the tale of commercial flight and the passenger experience. From the first meal served in a balloon to French aristocracy, gourmet meals aboard the Graf Zeppelin & the Pan Am Clippers to the more prosaic fare offered as flying became more routine, and finally to the disparity gap that exists today between the well fed have’s in premium cabins and the have not’s in economy, this story is spiced with many delicious facts that will leave you never looking at or tasting airline food the same way again.
Chris Sloan, Editor-In-Chief/Founder

Deeply researched and beautifully written, Food in the Air and Space brings history to life and will be enjoyed by aviation buffs and foodies alike. In all the aviation and space research I have done, I never once considered the food…but a people, be they travelers or explorers, need to eat. Food in the Air and Space, by gifted author Richard Foss, brings this little known history to life.
Eric Boehm, curator, Aviation and Aircraft Restoration, Intrepid Sea, Air, & Space Museum

An engaging history – and nicely illustrated too – for anyone who is either a fan of aviation history or food, and doubly so for anyone who has a foot in both camps. Well-researched, the book delves into areas of commercial and military flight, as well as the technologies that made dining aloft something more than a matter of mere sustenance. No matter how much you already know about aviation history, Food in the Air and Space will leave you better informed, and enjoying the journey too.
Doug Miller, website administrator, Pan Am Historical Foundation

Reducing airborne catering to a question of ‘chicken or beef?’ pokes fun at complex technical, social, and health considerations that have evolved to accommodate changing aspects of flying such as air journey schedules and lengths, passenger and crew demographics, cabin luggage allowances, airline economics, and aircraft size. Food in the Air and Space is a fabulous feast of fact, anecdote, and memory about carrying, preparing, serving, and eating food and drink. The vessels are balloons, airships, aircraft, and spacecraft. Foss delves into food streams and technologies: weight, packaging, storage, freezing, heating, sourcing, ingredients, and waste disposal have been the main difficulties. Laid out elegantly and served with panache, Food in the Air and Space shows that for 300 years, airborne catering and eating have been sources of nutrition, technical inventiveness, artistry, differentiation of carriers and social classes, passenger distraction and control … and humor.
Gordon Pirie, professor, University of Cape Town, African Centre for Cities

Aviation has always pushed innovation. Eating in the air is a fascinating subject and this history has done it justice.
David Crotty, Curator, Qantas Heritage Collection

It’s about time someone wrote a book about the appealing (and appalling) foods and beverages consumed in flight from the balloon era to the space age; Richard Foss’ Food in the Air and Space meets the need, and it’s a delightful read filled with unexpected departures and the occasional crash landing!
Andrew F. Smith, editor-in-chief, Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America