September 6, 2011

Food in the Future!

I'm from the Midwest. A historian might argue I'm from the South. Either way, I'm from the land of cows and pigs and chicken. Fish came in two varieties, cat or sticks. I cannot stand catfish. It is the most bland, boring, flimsy fish known to man and it looks pretty disgusting beforehand (my fish should not have whiskers). After a Tyson fish stick debacle when I was seven that had me trying not to vomit on the stairs and my mother screaming at me for "faking it," I'm not a fan of those either.

So I moved to New England where the fishes1 are. You cannot go to a restaurant without seeing calamari and crab cakes as appetizers. Fish and chips and baked/fried haddock will almost certainly be in the entrées. Lobster of some kind, either by the pound or in a roll (and they put it in pasta too, blarg). Scrod2, mussels, salmon, scallops, swordfish, and so on and so forth.

I come from the land of cows and sausages, but here everything is from the Atlantic Ocean. It has taken some adjusting and a little bit of courage on my part. I overcame the scars of my childhood and tried fish again. The lesson? It depends on the restaurant and how they prepare their fish. (And the sauce they put with it. I'm not a fan of dill and they can really go overboard with the dill.) My preference is blackened swordfish.

Well today my wife made tilapia tacos. Onion, sour cream, lime juice, a spicy concoction of spices, sliced avocados, and grilled tilapia on a wheat tortilla. This is the first time I've tried tilapia, and I discovered something. Tilapia doesn't taste like anything. It has such a mild flavor that really, it's just there for texture. You taste the spices and the condiments, but you don't the fish. As someone who doesn't much care for fish, one might think this to be a great find. But in truth, I discovered that if I must suffer through fish, I want to suffer. How can I wear eating fish like a badge of courage if the fish doesn't taste like fish?

"This is like tofu!" I complained because I hate tofu, but tofu eaters always tell me how it can taste like anything. (It can taste like anything because it tastes like nothing. Someone just made a much cube and convinced people it was good.) "It's firmer and has a different texture than tofu," was my wife's answer. That was all.

And that's when it struck me. In science fiction stories when man is populating deep space and traveling lightyears in ships like Serenity, they eat protein. We'll ignore star trek that has molecule resequencers/computer replicators. Matrix, Firefly, and so on and so forth all eat protein bars that are infused with minerals, vitamins, and everything else.

This is all well and good, except they CALL them protein cubes/squares/bars. And with that, I call shenanigans. No one would eat protein cubes. They eat brand names. If Kellogs or Kraft hasn't smacked a name on the box that carries those protein cubes, then those people didn't come from Earth.

And so, I introduce to you gentle reader, the future. Tilapia® brand protein cubes! Have Tilapia® for dinner tonight and get all the necessary vitamins and minerals for your space voyage.3

1 Grammatical curiosity: The plural of fish is fish when all the fish are the same. When you have different species of fish, the plural is fishes.

2 Scrod is almost always cod, but I can't order something that sounds like it's a euphemism for shit.

3 Obviously that's not really a registered trademark, but I'm definitely going to use it in a story some day.


  1. I'm not a big seafood fan either. I like boring old Gorton's crunchy fish fillets, or Red Lobster's batter fried fish. I like it very mild, since I don't like fishy tastes, so Orange Roughy was my favorite until they stoppe serving it. Now I am stuck with Tilapia.

  2. I go back and forth. I am from upstate New York where we had cow and pigs, but also trout. I enjoy fish but not most shellfish like crab legs and lobster. I love shrimp though. Mmmmm.

    You might want to try trout. It's a whitefish, like Tilapia, but it has more favor in my opinion while still being mild in taste. Salmon is a good option too.

  3. I grew up amongst the crabs and the fishes of New England, but only started willingly eating seafood over the past couple years. It's okay, but I'll never be hooked.

    But as for sci-fi foods, I've never checked the scripts, but how can you be sure they weren't brand names? I bet you'd love Proteen Qubes!

  4. @Ted: I am fortunate that I like spicy food. Now, an Indian would laugh at me when I say that, but for a Western European white boy, I like a healthy application of pepper.

    I always hear in my head the Duchess' Maid from the 1983 Alice in Wonderland mini-series. "MORE PEPPER!"

  5. @Liz: You're the second person to recommend to me trout. I am biased toward river fish because of my bad experiences with catfish. I want my fish from the oceans! I'm happy to stick with salmon and swordfish. :)

  6. @Nate: While I cannot say for certain people in movies were not eating Proteen Qubes, the books I have read most assuredly don't use a brand name.

    And seriously, my Tilapia brand protein cubes would kick your Proteen Qubes ass!