So you guys might think this is a stretch, writing about a comic convention on a food blog. You might be right on another food blog, written by another author, but for me, nothing could be more relevant to my diet than science fiction. My family's obsession with Star Trek played a major part in my Dad's decision to become a vegetarian back in the early nineties.
In the Next Generation Days, most people don't eat meat. Instead, they live off of a mix of fresh, plant-based food, and dishes replicated from scratch. Oddly, this future reflects two extremes that oppose in today's food culture. On one hand, Star Trek shows us a future where mankind has moved past cruelty. They believe that harming living things is not necessary thanks to the advent of technology. On the other hand, half of their sustenance comes from completely artificial food! Replicated food is beyond processed. It's not just modified, it's manipulated from start to finish.
If you watch any Star Trek series from the perspective of a cook, you'll pick up dozens of conversations about food. Vulcans are vegetarian by moral belief, one that is argued over during Enterprise, between First Officer T'pol, and Trip, the ship's engineer. Keiko and O'Brian reminisce about family dinner's during Next Generation, swapping stories of kelp noodles and red meat. Food is used as a cultural bridge between Picard and the Klingon empire when he gobbles up a handful of wriggling Gagh. Then there is Neelix, the alien cook and morale officer aboard Voyager, who never ceases to freak out his crewmates with his Zimmerman-like zeal for bizarre foods.
Star Trek has been such an incredibly influential part of my life, inside the kitchen and out. The Next Generation series, in particular, remains close to my heart. Every week my entire family gathered in front of the TV for our next outer-space adventure. Being raised without structured religion, I found myself incredibly drawn to the moral compass set by Captain Jean Luc-Picard. Of all the fictional characters that I grew up with, I think he's the only one that I really do wish were real.
On Sunday, I'm trekking out to Houston for Comicpalooza where the entire bridge set from Star Trek The Next Generation will be on display. It's sort of like a pilgrimage, especially at this point in my life when I'm re-discovering so many of the values that I treasured during my TNG days: vegetarianism, non-materialistic(ness?), and perhaps most importantly, optimism. More than anything, the Star Trek Universe paints a beautiful future for mankind. In these days of dark deeds and moral confusion, I covet every bit of hope I can get.
Patrick Stewart will be at Comicpalooza, along with a bunch of other deliciosly trekky guests including: René Auberjonois (Odo), Avery Brooks (Ben Cisco), and Armin Shimerman (Quark). Other sci-fi celebrities in attendance are Michelle Rodriguez, Danny Trejo, Peter Mayhew(Chewbacca), and many more.
Meeting Patrick Stewart would be really neat, but the price tag on an autograph or photo is a little hard for me to swallow. I mean, he is pretty awesome and everything, but boy-howdy is meeting him expensive. I can't imagine there's any time to chat or anything either. It's not really meeting, so much as gawking. In general, celeb-worship kind of skeeves me out, so paying money just to shake someone's hand, even Patrick Stewart's just feels weird to me. But then, the fan-girl inside of me is just screaming, "Squeeeee!!! It's Jean Luc-Picard!". Decisions, decisions. What would Captain Picard do?
Disclaimer: Comicpalooza provided me with free passes to the convention in exchange for sharing this post with you. Sorry for selling out guys, but I really REALLY wanted to sit on the bridge of the Enterprise and do some bossing. Engage, baby!