Apr 11 2009 3:29pm

Science Fiction Cuisine

 Starting next weekend, I’ll be posting a weekly series of recipes inspired by science fiction sources including Star Trek, Babylon 5, Farscape and Futurama. I’ve been cooking since I was about eight years old. Though I have never been to a culinary school, I had excellent teachers in my mother and grandmothers who taught me the basics of several ethnic cuisines. Am I a master chef? No. What I am is a good cook with pretty broad experience and a fairly wacky imagination.

What I want to do is nothing new; scifi-related recipes have been around for quite a while. But much of the time, the goal is to recreate a prop, rather than a meal. The emphasis is on presentation rather than palate. The cooks want to get the look right; flavor is an afterthought. Or, in some cases it’s just a well-known recipe with a new name, calling Pigs in a Blanket “Petrokian Sausage in Filet of Bregit Lung.” But really, it's just Pigs in a Blanket. I don’t want to do that.

I’ve seen some pretty unpleasant recipes out there. Gummi worms in chocolate sauce as Qagh. Baked tofu with sherry and brown sugar as Flarn. No doubt the appearance is correct enough, but I wouldn’t want to eat it.

In creating these recipes, I set several rules to insure a good outcome:

1. It’s got to taste really good.
This is the big rule. If it isn’t tasty, it’s just a novelty. I want to make real food from unreal sources.

2. No absurdly expensive or rare ingredients.
No point in calling for truffle-infused demiglace or requiring that you use Kopi Luwak coffee. If you can’t get it in a local store or farmer’s market, for a good price, I’ll find something else.

3. No technique unfamiliar to a regular home cook.
I have no intention of baffling you with my amazing skills. Probably more than a few of you are better cooks than I am, and for those who aren’t, it does you no service if all I do is show off. Also, I don’t ask for crazy equipment. Just knives and pots and stuff like that.

4. The recipes must be easily doubled, for larger dinner parties.
Because you might not want to eat all alone in the night.

Please feel free to make requests, and if you make the recipes at home, I'd love to know how they turn out.

First up: A trip to the kitchens of Babylon 5. See you next week!

Chris Meadows
1. Robotech_Master
Well, at least one well-known dish from Babylon Five will be easy to prepare...

(And in researching that, I came across something very interesting when you consider it in relation to the subject of this article. Read the first review of this book.)
2. literatewench
I look forward to this!
LT Tortora
3. Lucubratrix
I have to say, I can think of nothing unpleasant about gummy worms in chocolate sauce. It just doesn't qualify as cooking so much as an eight-year-old's fantasy kitchen science experiment.
4. DaveTAK
The Sten books by Allan Cole & Chris Bunch have some recipes in them. I plan on someday trying the steak sandwich on page 134 of "Empire's End".

5. Mister Arkham
Nice. Looking forward to this.
Eugene Myers
6. ecmyers
This might actually get me to try making something more ambitious than instant ramen or peanut butter and jelly.
Madeline Ferwerda
7. MadelineF
I was once fascinated by the Star Trek cookbook I borrowed from the library. The things I remember all these years later: Alexander Siddiq's hella cute story about being an impoverished actor in London ( = impoverished med student in the future) that accompanied a recipe for spam scramble or some such thing that might have been edible. Earl Grey tea cake, sounded nice... Haggis from Scotty, sounded... doable, far less daunting than I'd've thought, though still probably hideous.
Tex Anne
8. TexAnne
@7--haggis is kind of like oat-filled sausage, really. If it's done right you can't really tell what it's made of. (I do recommend avoiding the vegetarian version.)
9. DG Lewis
No soylent green, please.
Jason Ramboz
10. jramboz
Darn, Robotech_Master beat me to the obligatory swedish meatballs comment. And using Alton Brown, no less. Well done, sir, well done.
seth johnson
11. seth
In a similar vein, I came across a one-off paperback by Anne McCaffrey titled "Cooking Out of this World." It's a collection of recipes from science fiction writers and their spouses. Not everything is food, though. Every one of Larry Niven's recipes were for mixed drinks.


Justin Adair
12. Hobbyns
Can't wait to see the recipes. I feel the same way in the kitchen -- decent because my mother taught me, but no master chef. Some SF-themed comfort food sounds like a barrel of fun.

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