Captain Kirk and the Iron Chef

I met a girl. She was a pianist, a musician, a poet and much more. She inspired me. I've tried writing things off an on but never got anywhere. But she gave me the motivation to actually get around and (mostly) finish something. Here are the results. I dedicate them to her...

Captain Kirk and the Iron Chef

Joseph Jaquinta

June 2002

Cast of Characters

The Feds

The Senior Officers




The Junior Officers




Kitchen Staff

The Iron Chef

Food Bot 1

Food Bot 2

Sets and Dressing

The sets and dressing for this play are fairly minimalist. It is key that they are comprised of things from our modern world in an effort to show what an influence Star Trek has been. The Feds wear black jeans (skirt in the case of Uhuru) and blue (Spock, McCoy), yellow (Kirk, Sulu, Chekov), or red (Uhuru) jewel tone shirts. Kirk's communicator is a flip open mobile phone. Spock's tricorder is a palm pilot. McCoy's scanner is a TV remote control.

The Kitchen Staff need only appear to be robotic in the most superficial sense. Silver makeup, silver spray painted aprons and a chef's hat, etc. Their machine nature is more conveyed through jerky robotic motions of the Food Bots. The Iron Chef himself is very, very camp.

Act I

Scene I

Empty dark stage. The opening Star Trek theme music plays. Six spotlights ramp up on Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhuru, Sulu, and Chekov. Stage lights raise and the spots dim leaving the six standing on the stage. They fan out.

Kirk: (opening his communicator) Captain's log. Supplemental. We've beamed down to the surface of the planet that we traced the trail of contraband to. It looks to be a dreary place. With luck we'll apprehend the culprit quickly and return him to justice. (he puts the communicator away)

Uhuru: What are we looking for, Captain?

Kirk: Drug lords, Uhuru. Producers of controlled substances on the Federation Drug Administration's bad list.

Sulu: A FDA hit? That's serious. They won't know what's coming. What sort of controlled substances? Neococaine? Ultraheroin? Cannabis Major?

McCoy: Worse than that Lieutenant. Unregulated foodstuff.

Chekov: We're here looking for creme buns?

Spock: Unhomogenized excretions of a bovine mammal, whipped by uninspected machinery, invested in a pastry of flour made from grain frown with unknown fertilizers, ground possibly by slabs of rock and cooked, must likely in a device of questionable hygienic standards. Creme buns would be the least of his crimes.

Chekov: Oh, like my grandmother used to sell on the streets of Leningrad? (the joke falls flat. Spock stares at him deadpan)

Uhuru: But what does he look like?

Kirk: We don't know. We only have the name he goes by: "The Iron Chef".

Sulu: Maybe a floppy disk from the late 20th century fell through a wormhole and a virus on it infected the fabricators of this planet and they are now running amok! It wouldn't be the first time.

Uhuru: Or maybe a renegade chef had his brain cells implanted on the memory chips of a new generation of computer and it has all gone awry! We've seen that too.

Chekov: Maybe it is my Grandmother! (McCoy gives him the deadpan stare this time)

Spock: Captain. I'm getting some strange energy readings in the microwave spectrum from this direction.

Uhuru: I think I smell something cooking from over here.

Kirk: Uhuru, Sulu, Chekov. Team up and check out those microwaves. Spock, McCoy, come with me and lets see what's cooking. (they exit stage left and stage right)

Scene II

Uhuru, Sulu and Chekov enter the stage. Scanners and phasers are at the ready.

Uhuru: I wonder what the real issue is here.

Chekov: The captain told us. We're here after drug smugglers.

Uhuru: It can't just be that. Who cares about drug smugglers? I mean, there must be something important at stake.

Sulu: Like what?

Uhuru: Like... I know: sexism. Perhaps the Iron Chef is feeding his minions differently based on their gender.

Sulu: No! How barbaric! I'm so glad I live in the Federation where we've eradicated all sexism.

Uhuru: Yes, definitely! (Chekov looks at Uhuru's skirt and rolls his eyes)

Sulu: Or, maybe it's racism! Perhaps the Iron Chef feeds subjects that have one skin color more food than subjects with a different skin color.

Chekov: (trying to join in the spirit) Maybe he feeds them food based on their skin color! Baby corn for the Asians, Kidney beans for the African-Americans... (they look at him disapprovingly)

Uhuru: God Bless the Federation. We've solved all our racial predujustice.

Sulu: You wouldn't see that in the Federation.

Chekov: (after a pause) Have you ever noticed how the senior three crew are all white males? (Uhuru and Sulu look concerned and ponder)

Sulu: But one is an alien.

Uhuru: Yes. That's great progress. Just think how much more sexually and racially equal they'll be in The Next Generation.

Chekov: (muttering) Yeah, one will probably be a white male robot.

Sulu: (who heard) Well Ensign, what do you think is an important issue.

Chekov: (thinks for a minute) Maybe nuclear disarmament? Perhaps the Iron Chef is locked in an arms race with a nearby rival. Surely that's an issue everyone cares about! (they nod in agreement) I certainly care. After all, Russia lead the world in nuclear disarmament. (the others sigh and begin walking off stage) Really! They sold them all... (he follows)

Scene III

Empty stage. Two small end tables. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy enter. Spock has something on his scanner.

Spock: Captain. I'm detecting strange chemical readings. They are coming this way!

Food Bot enters carrying a tray of drinks. They watch in puzzlement as she swans by. By reflex they each snag a drink as it passes. Spock and McCoy busily point their scanners at it. Kirk holds his up to the light, smells it, and is just about to down it when Spock interrupts him.

Spock: Captain! I advise you not to drink it!

Kirk: It smells all right. What's in it?

Spock: It's a cocktail of mixed fruit juices, carbonated beverages and... ethanol.

Kirk: That doesn't sound too bad. What's ethanol?

McCoy: It's an alcohol, Jim. (Kirk looks blank) It's a drug they used to synthesize from grain before the age of enlightenment. When drunk it produces giddiness, a tendency to cavort around the place, slurred speech and extravagant behavior.

Kirk: (laughing) It sounds like those pills you give me when the budgets are due!

Spock: And when taken in excess it can lead to depression, liver failure, and chronic psychological dependencies.

Kirk: Hmm. That sounds like the budgets themselves. (looks at the glass in disappointment) Hard to believe. All that in one brightly colored beverage. (they put the drinks on one of the end tables)

As they turn around another Food Bot buzzes past, this time with a tray of hors d'ourves. They each take one. Spock and McCoy, once more, start scanning again and Kirk smells it, seems rather pleased and is just about to put it in his mouth.

McCoy: MY GOD JIM! (he pulls it away from his mouth and shows him the scanner) Look at the calories! Why it's nearly off the scale. There must be nearly a hundred of them!

Kirk: In this?

Spock: Indeed Captain. Most Federation Drug Administration food contains supersaturated fat. This aperitif contains an unaproved mixture of saturated and unsaturated fat. Instead of passing straight through your digestive system these substances interact with your body and form a symbiotic relationship as parasitic fat. Usually around the waist.

Kirk: (looks self consciously at his waist) Well, we can't have that, I guess. (McCoy pulls it from his hands and puts it on the other end table.)

Another Food Bot comes past bearing a tray of sandwiches cut into quarters. They take one once more and Spock and McCoy begin the usual scanning. Kirk looks inside, smells it, and his face lights up.

Kirk: No, I know what this is! (Spock and McCoy look at him skeptically) This is a turkey sandwich!

Spock: (consulting his scanner) Indeed, Captain. But the creamy spread you see there might not be margarine but could be butter.

Kirk: Gentlemen, gentlemen. Not all of human experience is quantifiable through scanners and analysis. If we are to truly understand the enemy we have to engage him on his own ground. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Eat the peach! (They look dubious) Mr. Spock. Do you detect any toxic substances?

Spock: Not that my scanner is calibrated for. But...

Kirk: Fine. Bones? Is there anything here in any quantity that our digestive system can't handle?

McCoy: I'm not sure, but...

Kirk: Well, then. The matter is settled. Gentleman, raise your sandwiches! (they all dig in. Kirk with much enthusiasm, Spock and McCoy less so) Now, that's a turkey sandwich.

Spock: Fascinating, Captain. This bread has a texture I haven't seen before.

McCoy: I think it may be what Old Earth advertising literature refers to as "fresh".

They finish their sandwiches

Kirk: Well, if that is the enemy, I think we're not going to... (he is interrupted by a yawn) Sorry.

McCoy: I think it might be a bit premature... (he too yawns)

Spock: (scanning them) Captain! Your metabolism seems to be slowing down. There must be a drug in the sandwiches!

Kirk: (looking alarmed) I thought you said they were clear!

McCoy: Tryptophan! It's what we put in the sleeping pills the crew takes every night!

Spock: (consulting databanks) Yes. The Doctor is right. Modern Federation turkeys have been genetically engineered to produce a lower content of that chemical so we may enjoy turkey without the side effects. Excess amounts are distilled out before serving and used by the medical industry.

Kirk: (swaying slightly) But Spock. Why aren't you affected? Is it something about your strange alien biochemistry?

Spock: No Captain. I'm a vegetarian. I had a cheese sandwich.

Kirk: (beyond argument) Quick, find us crash space!

Spock helps Kirk and McCoy off stage.

Scene IV

Uhuru, Sulu and Chekov are still scanning. There is an end table.

Sulu: So explain to me once again, Chekov, how a pair of color coded Russian brothers invented the cocktail...

Another patriotic monolog is interrupted by a Food Bot sweeping in with a tray of chocolate truffles. She places it on the end table in their midst and sweeps out.

Uhuru: Is that what I think it is?

Sulu: (picks it up) They appear to be chocolates.

Chekov: But who knows what they could be laced with! Salmonella, arsenic, cherry brandy liqueur!

Uhuru: (reproachfully) Ensign. We are here on a mission. In the oath of unswerving loyalty we have sworn to the Federation we agreed to fulfill our duty even if it meant possible danger, harm or even death to each one of us!

Sulu: Our individual lives, our glorious starship, the health of the environment are inconsequential compared to harming the economic growth of The Federation.

Chekov: OK, ok.

Uhuru: I shall eat the chocolate for The Federation!

Sulu: No, Chekov does have a point about the danger. I am the senior officer. I should take the risk and eat it.

Uhuru: But I'm a Lieutenant too! And, besides, I'm expendable. (the others look uncomprehending) Do you see a switchboard? As communications officer I don't really have a good reason for being here. And (pointing at her shirt) I'm wearing the red shirt.

Sulu: (still reluctant but is compelled by her arguments) Chekov?

Chekov: I'm feeling too "white male" here to make any sort of assertive statement.

Sulu: But we must adhere to the illusion of concessus.

Chekov: (sighing) OK, fine. I think you should both eat it. I'll watch and if anything happens I'll run off and get our great white officers.

Sulu: Capital idea! Uhuru?

They both pick up chocolates, clink them together like glasses and begin to nibble at them. Chekov stands stoically, arms crossed.

Uhuru: Oh my! The taste! The texture! It's so... Luxurious.

Sulu: (expansively) It just flows and flows surrounding me like a bath of warm soy milk.

Uhuru: (with excitement) Mine has a nut in it! I've only read about those. I think it's an almond.

Sulu: I was hoping for a cherry. (Uhuru giggles) You know, the ancient writings say the almond was supposed to be an aphrodisiac.

Uhuru: (giggles again) Really? I didn't know. That explains... (she breaks off into more giggles. Chekov makes a finger-down-throat gesture)

Sulu: (also giggling) Another?

They both reach for another, and as they pick it up their hands brush. They linger, touching, then bring their chocolate up to each other's lips, feed it to the other and let them lick each other's fingers clean. Chekov turns his back on them in disgust.

Uhuru: You know, that was particularly noble of you to volunteer to take the risk of eating these alone.

Sulu: Oh, not nearly as brave as you! You are anything but expendable. I'd miss you terribly. (they both giggle and clean the corners of each other's mouths. Chekov has a revelation)

Chekov: That's it! It's the chocolate! (he turns to them) Natural chocolate has dangerously high levels of phenylethylamine in it that makes you feel the same as being in love! This isn't real. (they look dismissive and are about to shut him down)

Sulu: Look, we've had chocolate before.

Chekov: No, no. Not chocolate flavoring. This must be the real stuff. The Federation extracts the chemical to make it fit for human consumption.

Uhuru: How would you know?

Chekov: Well, the Russians originally patented the extraction process. We used it for biological warfare against the French during the cold war. (they look very skeptical now) Look, you don't even know each other's first names! (the look dismissive, then look like they are trying to think of their names, then look worried)

Uhuru: But what can we do?

Chekov: I don't know! Think of something off-putting like Federation Sex Education videos! (they try to move apart but still hold hands)

Sulu: I'm not sure we can do this. You have got to go for help!

Chekov looks hesitant, agitated, then runs off the stage.

Uhuru: Hold me! (they embrace. As the lights fade she reaches for another chocolate)

Scene V

Kirk, Spock, and McCoy sit slumped in chars. Spock is examining them carefully. They seem to be waking up.

Kirk: Spock! How long were we out?

Spock: About an hour Captain.

McCoy: Did we miss anything?

Spock: (looking a bit dazed) First thing they brought out was the olive bread. It had an insidious fresh baked aroma and was brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with rosemary on top. Then they brought a tossed bacon and wilted spinach salad with a sorely tempting raspberry vinaigrette dressing. And they have only just cleared the room of a selection of vegetables roasted in chicken stock and garnished with generous sprinklings of parsley. If it wasn't for a special mental focus technique I learned from my mother I'm not sure I would have gotten through it.

Kirk: I thought you got your fantastic mental powers from your father's side.

Spock: True, but when my mother first moved from Earth she had to make adjustments. The soap operas of Vulcan are extremely boring.

Kirk: (making a time-out signal) Thank you Spock. That's enough.

McCoy: (looking off stage) Isn't that young Pavel over there?

Kirk: Why yes, I think it is.

Spock: He seems to be running very fast.

McCoy: I think he's very agitated about something. He's an excitable lad.

Kirk: It can't be too important, otherwise he'd have used his communicator. (he waves his about, then puts it away)

McCoy: Kids these days. Probably time for his meds. (he starts getting out his syringe)

Chekov: (running in) Captain! Captain! It's terrible. Uhuru and Sulu are all over each other. It's the food! It hadn't been processed. It's full of natural color and flavorings. We can't leave them like this! They might have an on-stage interracial kiss! (all this time Kirk is trying to calm him down. McCoy comes up from behind and hypo's him. He immediately goes all lackluster and slumps standing where he is.)

Kirk: Ok, Ensign. Lets take it slowly. What happened? (Chekov just stands there)

Spock: (aside to McCoy) What did you give him?

McCoy: Quadro-ridylyn. I've got the whole crew on it. Stops them being a distraction to the senior officers.

Chekov: Chocolate.

Kirk: Oh? So you stopped for some chocolate?

Chekov: Uhuru. Sulu. Love.

Kirk: Well, that's perfectly natural. They can pull their Viagrahol ration back on the ship and share it in their quarters. There's nothing wrong with that. They're both officers.

Spock: (who has been reading his scanner) I surmise what the drugged Ensign is referring to is love, not lust. A monomaniac fixation of one person for another to the dereliction of their duties.

Kirk: Aw, that's kind of sweet.

McCoy: Ugh. Nasty. Could be months in therapy. And we just downsized the psychiatry department. Hopefully this will fix it. (he gives two syringes to Chekov)

Kirk: What's that?

McCoy: UltraProProzac. Nothing like it. Now run along, Pavel, and dispense that. And if you are really good I'll give you some.

Chekov: (looks confused. Looks to Kirk for support. He smiles and nods beneficently) Hug? (Kirk embraces him, lets him go and they watch him leave the stage)

Kirk: Just like a big kid. Bones, you truly have a drug for everything.

McCoy: Happy, quiet and bidable. That's how I like the crew.

Spock: Captain. May I make a suggestion?

Kirk: Certainly.

Spock: In order to forestall future Epicurean attacks, perhaps we should fortify ourselves with lunch.

Kirk: Perfect! Nothing like a great Federation lunch to drive away any temptation for our smuggler's fares. Bones?

McCoy: One lunch, coming up. (McCoy rifles through his pockets and pouches and comes up with three cellophane wrapped mini-twinkie rolls) Just what the doctor ordered. (they each take one)

Kirk: Remarkable. I'll never ceased to be amazed by 24th century food. All that health and goodness packaged into such a... small... package. (his enthusiasm seems to wither) What's in these anyway?

Spock: (pulls out scanner) purified flour derivative enriched with ferrous sulphate, niacin, thiamine mononitrate, ribofavin, folic acid, sweetener, low fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, completely hydrogenated dextrose, cellulose, sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate, sodium chloride, starch, monoglyceride, diglyceride, lecithin, polysorbate, dextrin, calcium caseinate, sodium stearol lactylate, calcium sulphate, natural and artificial flavors.

Kirk: (looking stunned) All that?

Spock: Well that's everything that occurs with more than 5 parts per million. Shall I continue.

Kirk: (changing focus) Remarkable. I'll never cease to be amazed by 24th century technology. That something so small can analyze something to such detail. Isn't it an amazing world we live in?

McCoy: It's just reading the label. (Kirk looks confused) By Federation law there is a Nutritional Facts micro dot containing all ingredients, recommended daily allowance percentages, and 70 gigs of drug interaction information.

Kirk: 70 gigs? Isn't that a big much?

McCoy: A bit much? How can it be a bit much? It is the height of our achievements as thinking creatures. The march of civilization is measured by the sophistication with which our food is processed. We don't grind grain with two rocks anymore! We grow it hydroponically in controlled sterile environments. We bleach it, we bake it, we pasteurize it, we homogenize it, and ensure the consistent, quality product the market expects. There are hundreds of additives so we can regulate the flavor texture and color, without adding any unpredictable factor. We don't put dried weeds, seeds, tree bark or insects into out food anymore, just good, clean chemicals. The last thing we want is some natural element to creep into the system! It would interfere with my ability to prescribe drugs.

    And where would our civilization be without drugs? Drugs bring us up from our depressions, drugs keep us calm when we are stressed, drugs help us withstand our aches and pains, drugs help us gain weight, drugs help us lose weight, and keep our wonderful complexions. They are the heartbeat of our lives. Deny me this information and this paradise is lost. We're back to the stone age of indigestion, heartburn, and liposuction.

Spock: Consider the legal implications. The information in these micro dots limits the liability of the Federation and its authorized food producers from being sued. Then there are the economic factors. Food producers must be regulated, inspected, approved and trained. Three is much employment derived and a lot of money changes hands. Healthy food also leads to a healthy economy.

Kirk: (rather stunned at their vehement response) Then (raising the twinkie) to food! (he swallows it with a face)

A Food Bot with an empty tray goes past. Kirk makes an "after you?" Gesture and they follow it.

Scene VI

Uhuru and Sulu hold each other in the waltz position, slowly dancing. They look deep into each other's eyes. Chekov stands on the edge of the stage, slouching and holding two syringes.

Uhuru: I think this is the happiest I've ever been in my life!

Chekov walks up and hugs the two of them, injecting each of them as he does so. They look surprised, confused, then blankly happy.

Sulu: What was that?

Chekov: Meds.

Uhuru: (eyes twitching) Oh! It must be ultraprozac. It always makes me twitch like that.

Sulu: (holds out shaking hand) Yeah, I get this when it mixes with my perfecoset. What did they give you?

Chekov: (examines sweaty palms) Quadoridilyn, I think.

Uhuru: (giggling) Sorry!

Sulu: (spinning) He he. We get the fun stuff! (he and Uhuru play a quick game of patty cake)

Uhuru and Sulu:

    Oh Captain Kirk Kirk Kirk
    In his yellow shirt shirt shirt
    Gives me duty fine fine fine
    Do it all the time time time
    Chekov grabs Uhuru and hugs her. He then grabs Sulu and hugs him. Uhuru takes him and spins in a dance. Sulu does the same thing. Then they bounce him back and forth between them, rave style, a few times till he misses and falls onto the floor. They laugh, somewhat hysterically.

Uhuru: (bounces and claps, looks kind of glassy) I think this is the happiest I've been in my life.

Chekov gets back up. A Food Bot with an empty tray comes through . Sulu grabs her and starts to conga. Uhuru pushes Chekov into place and they all conga off the stage.

Scene VII

A table to stage left contains all manner of cooking apparatus and foodstuffs. A table to the rear has three chairs behind it. Behind the first table is the Iron Chef busily working away on stuff.

A food Bot enters from the right trailed by Kirk, Spock and McCoy. They sight the Chef and are about the cry out in alarm when they see...

Another food Bot enters from the left attached with a conga line of Uhuru, Sulu and Chekov. They sight the senior officers, cease to conga and straighten their clothes and look guilty.

Kirk: Iron Chef! (He looks up alarmed.) Cease and desist all culinary activities!

Chef: Oh no! The Feds!

Kirk: That's right. We're here to shut down this illegal food production facility.

Chef: But won't you have something to eat first?

Kirk: (Looks like this is a reasonable request. Looks to Spock and McCoy for confirmation but gets angry glares. He shrugs.) I'm afraid not. Please come quietly.

Chef: Never! I am King in my own Kitchen!

Kirk: (turns to Spock) He doesn't want to come quietly. How shall we persuade him?

Spock: Why with logic, of course. (he steps forward)

Chef: Do your worst!

Spock: (imperiously) Calculate to the last digit: the value of pi!

Chef looks alarmed. The junior officers all smile and nod at each other like they have seen this work before. Kirk and McCoy also seem to think this is a good idea. Chef counts on his fingers, picks up a few measuring cups, then drops them.

Chef: Here's one I prepared earlier! (he lifts from the table a pie) I mixed a bit of rose water into the crust base to give it a hit of the exotic and sprinkled the top with coarse granulated sugar seeped in a vanilla bean to enhance the texture. The filling is a blend of diced mango and blueberries with a orange juice and sugar sauce with some almond flour as a binding agent.

Kirk: (looks impressed) Spock?

Spock: Fascinating Captain. (pause) I would never have thought of using mangoes and blueberries together...

Kirk: (rolls his eyes. Spock steps back. He turns to McCoy) Bones?

McCoy: I'm a doctor, not a sous chef. What do you want me to do?

Kirk: Do what you always do: prescribe him something.

McCoy: (steps forward. Rummages through his kit. Eventually comes up with a pill in a cup) Take that!

Chef: What is it?

McCoy: It's a transcodine based analgesic with a buffering agent of trippleprophen to ensure a neutral pH balance and a plenaproxyl substrate to accelerate its adsorbtion into the bloodstream. All packaged in a inert filler lozenge with a easy slide gloss coat to ensure low-resistance swallowing or rectal insertion without separate lubricant. It's effective against nausea, stress induced cramps, and particularly good for PAINS IN THE ASS!

Chef: (indignant) I think I'd be much better off swallowing this! (he brandishes a cupcake)

McCoy: What is it?

Chef: Well, I've used a red velvet base to which I've added dark chocolate shavings and the zest of a ripe line. The top is glazed with a honey and butter frosting surmounted by a maraschino cherry and a light, but tasty, dusting of cinnamon!

McCoy: There's no way I'm going to put something sprinkled with ground up tree bark into my mouth no matter how 'tasty'.

Chef: And neither will I swallow something comprised mainly of chalk dust, no matter how 'inert'.

Kirk: (seeing as it is a standoff) Well, if we can't appeal to him through logic, and he won't take his medicine, then I guess we'll just have to fight it out.

Chef: (aghast) Fisticuffs?

Kirk: No. I had something less traditional in mind. The only way to prove our point to you is to beat you at your own game. You prepare a meal from this devil's kitchen of yours, and we shall prepare one from Federation approved rations. We shall let our Junior officers decide between the two which way of life is better.

Chef: A challenge? I accept!

Both busy themselves. The Iron Chef blusters around the kitchen. The Senior Officers cluster around their ration pack discussing the contents. The Junior Officers move and sit behind the rear table. The Iron Chef produces a great platter of stuff which he gives to one food Bot. The Senior officers pick out a few pills, place them in a cup, and place it, alone, on the platter carried by the other Food Bot.

Chef: (his platter is presented to the Junior Officers with great theatrics) I have prepared for you a refreshing aperitif of a lemon grass and mace soup served at room temperature with a garnish of asparagus. The main plate contains slow roasted pork with a pomegranate sauce accompanied by a medley of roasted baby squash, carrots and parsnips. And to cleanse the palate afterwards we have lemon ice with a strawberry speared by a sprig of mint.

The Junior Officers look impressed but aren't quite sure what to make of it.

Spock: (the other Food Bot presents the second tray) The rations we have selected here combine to produce exactly 100% of the United Federation Recommended Daily Allowances. They are easily portable, have a shelf life of several years and can be taken, with water, swallowed, and be enhancing your body with their nutritional benefit in less than thirty seconds for the average citizen interrupting you minimally and letting you attend to your scheduled duty or recreation time.

The Junior Officers are clearly very impressed.

Uhuru: 100%! Exactly? Wow. It sure sounds good for you.

Sulu: I'm impressed at how quickly it can be consumed.

Chekov: Yes, the benefits to the our efficiency are clear.

Chef: (is horrified. He continues with great passion) But, you haven't even tasted what I have made? How can you judge food purely by its nutritional content? Or how little of your rec time it takes? Food is recreation! The taste, the textures, the experience! You are missing all of that. It isn't just a biological function. Please! Try it. At least try what I've made.

The Junior officers seem a bit reluctant but are moved by his passion. But at his urging they taste a few bits, then a few more.

Uhuru: Oh! That is so good! It's like a thousand sunny days on a sandy beach!

Sulu: I hadn't noticed the aroma before. It's like the bustle of a market on a third-world planet!

Chekov: This strawberry is so sweet! My little old grandmother from Leningrad would weep!

McCoy: (he stamps forward and slaps Chekov's hand) Good god man, do you know what you're eating? Do you have any idea how many calories are in that? At the dawn of civilization advances in our technology raised us from mere subsistence eating. But with the decline in food prices came about wallowing in gastronomic excess. This brought down the biggest threat that civilization has had to deal with: obesity. Fat people, ugly people, lazy people. They were a great burden on society and taxed their health care severely. The best nations of the world were burdened under the weight of excess fat. Over two people in three were overweight and one person in three was clinically obese!

    But civilization began to fight back. First with saccharine, then aspartame, then olestra. Science rallied to the cause and began to synthesize or genetically engineer foodstuffs that had no excess nutritional merit. It was better for people, it was good for the economy. Does it really matter if the strawberries crunch when you bite them? Think of the shelf life! Think of year 'round availability. Is blandness too high a price to pay for having it whenever you want it?
    With more and more regulation of food people began to eat less and less. The very concept became unappetizing. And with that society's weight problem was solved. To go back to this (he gestures contemptuously at the Iron Chef's food) threatens civilization itself!
    The Junior Officers are clearly moved. Over the course of the speech they reluctantly put down and stop nibbling at their food. They look abashed and shocked.

Chef: That's just not fair! I can't believe what you are saying. Yes, yes, it's all true. But that's not what is important. Food doesn't make people fat, people do! Just because they can't control themselves doesn't mean you should take it out on something else. Cure the cause, not the symptom. Just because it is easier to take a pill than go for a jog doesn't mean you should skimp on the gravy. There is no reason you can't enjoy food AND be healthy. Please, please, put the butter on the potato. It does taste better. But just have one.

Everyone seems steamed out. McCoy is exasperated, Chef is despondent, Spock looks irked, and the Junior Officers seem afraid of looking at things one way or another. As the silence continues it is clear that Kirk will have to step in.

Kirk: Gentlemen and ladies. You each have good points. (pointing at Chef) Food needs to taste good. (pointing at Spock and McCoy) Food needs to be good for you. But, also, humanity has to be good enough for the food. (he plucks a few grapes) To use it as intended, (he eats a grape) for Epicurean delight (he puts the rest away) and not for gluttonous excess.

    But we're a flawed species. We are corrupt. We are greedy. We are undisciplined. We are improving, but the truth is, Iron Chef, the Galaxy isn't ready yet for your food. (Chef looks disconsolate but is welling over with sympathy) However. (Kirk puts his arm around Chef) I'll tell you what. Instead of carpet bombing your planet back into the stone age, which is the usual Federation way of dealing with these problems, we will just write in our report that this is a barren, lifeless planet, of no value. Unsuitable for commercial development or as a toxic waste dump. (he turns to him earnestly) I want you to keep doing what you are doing. Hopefully, one day, the Galaxy will be ready for your food. (Chef looks delighted and relieved) This is our patrol zone anyway. Perhaps we'll drop in for dinner occasionally, and see how you are doing.

Chef: Oh, you would be most welcome! I wish so much you could take my food with you. Maybe someday. But for now, please take this. (he picks up his pie from earlier and presents it to Kirk) As my parting gift, and my ambassador.

Kirk: (makes no move to give it back) No. I really couldn't. Federation regulations and all that.

Chef: (sighs expansively and goes to take the pie back. Kirk holds tightly onto it. Chef tugs once, and it is obvious that Kirk's holding onto it. The light dawns) But, I insist. I really do!

Kirk: Well, if you insist, I guess we must! (he motions the rest. They form into a hexagon. He pulls out his communicator and waves to the Iron Chef) Kirk to Enterprise. Six to beam up.