Where: Mess hall, Breen freighter
Why: Because Vulcan
When: Breen freighter
Who: Marcus and Sylok
Marcus opened up the smaller of the two ration crates brought aboard, in case that the freighter's replicators could not be adapted to synthesize food palletable for its Federation crew. But Marcus took no chances. He pulled out a silvered packet emblazoned with the Starfleet emblem and sat down to his meal of a pale, green, textured protein bar. In what was effectively an ice box, smelling faintly of ammonia and chlorine.
Sylok's schedule told him that it was now time for lunch. He did not look forward to the food choices that the Human crew no doubt packed. He never understood the emotional reaction the species had for nourishment. Walking through the doors, Sylok readied himself for the nauseating smell of various Earth seasonings.
Instead, he discovered the Operations Officer, Marcus Kallan sitting at one of the limited amount of tables in the Breen mess hall. The Human unexpectedly began eating what appeared to be Starfleet prepared cubes. Being a scientist, Sylok needed to investigate. "Lieutenant Kallan, would you mind informing me of the kind of nourishment that you have prepared?" Sylok asked in his usual Vulcan tone.
"Protein bar," Marcus responded, covering his mouth as he wasn't about to be rude even though the Vulcan wouldn't mind him talking with his mouth full. He regarded the silvery wrapper of the protein bar, which, if he got the meal from a replicator, would be cut up into palm-sized cubes. "This one is made from synthetic soy with carbohydrate texturing meant to imitate firm tofu." He shrugged, and indicated towards the smaller crate. "Should be a plomeek flavored one in there somewhere. I raided the Quartermaster's office before we left."
"Most interesting," Sylok responded, intrigued by the food source. A quick glance in the indicated direction revealed the plomeek flavored protein bar. The Vulcan extended his hand upwards as if to point at the protein bar and asked, "May I?"
"It's yours," Marcus responded. "I don't particularly care for plomeek, but because this kind of food is often supplied to crews that have Vulcan away teams away from replicators, it's easy to get. I have a delicate digestive system, and I find it's easier just to accept my limitations and eat simply." He indicated the chair across from him. "Have a seat, Lieutenant. Sylok, right?"
"That is correct, Lieutenant Kallan," Sylok responded as he took the offered seat. The Vulcan had most certainly heard the name of the Portland's Chief Operations Officer come across a number of reports. Carefuly opening the package, Sylok took a small test bite of the protein bar in the name of science. It was certainly lacking in taste, but the nutritional value and the time saved made up for the lack of taste. "Extraordinary," Sylock replied as he took another bite.
"Really?" Marcus asked with a chuckle. "Nothing remarkable about these. They're bland, properly synthesized nutrients perfected since they were first introduced during the early years of warp travel, what, early last century. Near 200 year-old recipe."
"That is what makes them remarkable," Sylar began. "This contains every essential vitamin, mineral, and protein for a balanced diet without the need to take time away from your required tasks," he explained. The Vulcan read the back of the opened package, determining the nutritional value of the protein bar. "I could live indefinitely by eating this three times per day," he remarked, gesturing to the scattered assortment of bars, "Do you have more of these?"
"Whatever's in the crate, we can share," Marcus stated. "I can't guarantee another plomeek-flavored one, but there should be basic flavors that should be agreeable to your palate." He shook his head, chuckling. "It's amusing to me that someone else would actually appreciate protein cubes. Now I can point to a Vulcan and say, 'See? He likes it. It's logical!'"
"I have never understood the need of some species to satiate their emotional needs with culinary creations," Sylok stated. Looking at the scattered assortment of protein bars, he agreed, "I will take the nutritional supplements not designed for the human palate." Arching his eyebrow, he then questioned, "Though I am puzzled as to why anyone would not find this a logical option for nutritional intake."
"Okay, so here's the argument," Marcus began, as he wiped his mouth with a napkin after another bite. "Let's say that you find the taste, texture, and nutrition of plomeek soup to be agreeable. Then, you have those," he said, nodding towards the cubes. "Provide a logical rationale for why a Vulcan would prefer plomeek soup over a manufactured substitute." Marcus smirked. "The answer is, historical continuity. Tradition. There is nothing wrong, per se, with eating protein cubes. If it suits your nutritional needs, go for it. But given real food versus synthetic rations? If I were able, I'd choose real food. As much as you and I are logical beings, we're not machines, and we need some continuity to our past. What our ancestors before us, ate."
"There is truth in what you are saying," Sylok agreed. Elaborating on his statement, the Vulcan added, "Food is one of the holdovers for our emotional past. For me, something as simple as the smell of plomeek soup is enough to bring memories of the past to the forefront of my thoughts." Taking another bite of the protein bar, he finished, "However, in such times where time is of the essence, this makes an option well suited for anyone."
"Except that, for most species, enjoying the food you eat is almost as important as the nutrition it provides," Marcus said, shrugging. "Whatever. Enjoy. Or... don't enjoy. Consume. There you go." He shook his head, chuckling.
Not quiet chuckling, Sylock simply took another bite of his protein bar. He would quiet enjoy the new food. "I appreciate this new nuititional supplement that you have shown me."