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Mahamaad Yubeen's Pre-T Cuisines

Popular virch series about food styles

Jonah Locust
Image from Steve Bowers
A Jonah Locust, one of the Genetekker dishes featured in this series

Mahamaad Yubeen's Pre-T Cuisines (MYPTC or 'Miptik') was a wildly popular semi-interactive virchfilm series in the 1300's AT, detailing the most popular dishes of the Interplanetary Era over the course of thousands of episodes.

Each episode of MYPTC focused upon a particular culture of the Interplanetary Age, briefly reviewing its history, going into the common themes in its cooking and then looking at four or five of its most prominent dishes, including giving their recipes. The series reached huge audiences, in particular within Solsys and the more developed and integrated extrasolar colonies such as Ecotopia, Nova Terra and Pacifica. The show did receive criticism for its excluding many cuisines which prominently featured slaughtered animals, this being seen as very barbaric by much of the Federation populace of the period, as well as for its rather 'pop science' approach. However, as it never purported to be a work of serious historical scholarship, this never had any real impact on its popularity.

Format

MYPTC was a semi-interactive virch show, the environments were generally limited in favour of a strong narrative experience. Over the course of each episode, the presenter (Mahamaad Yubeen) would move from scene to scene talking about the history, circumstances and foods of different Interplanetary Age cultures while the vuser experienced themselves as being in eir presence, including feeling the ambient conditions and being able to taste and smell the foods. For example, during the episode 'Jackfruits and Bushbread: Indonesian Foods Imported to Northern Australia' the vusers would be able to feel the heat of the fires and the sun, feel the wind, smell the spices of the food being cooked and even taste it. During presentations vusers would follow Yubeen closely but periodically were free to explore the environments they were in, though more often than not these environments would be quite small. Abilities within the virch would be limited to the sorts of interactions appropriate for the setting, for example: purchasing foodstuffs in a market. Various simms would populate the shows enabling vusers to talk to "authentic" recreations of historical people, sometimes including particular famous individuals, conversations would usually focus on whatever culinary or cultural topic was being addressed. The simms had very low capabilities in discussing other topics.

Vusers could elect whether to experience the episode as simply being themselves and Yubeen, or could experience their families or friends being there with them. The environments were adjusted to avoid discomfort to vusers, for example in the Antarctican episode 'Hot and Cold Foods of the Free States'.

Each episode would pick a particular culture and time, and spend the first quarter of the episode reviewing the history of this culture, the second looking into the common staples and trends within their cooking and the second half going over four or five of their most prominent dishes. However, outside of these periods with Yubeen talking, vusers could spend as long as they liked exploring the environments between explanations. So while a typical episode was designed to last at least an hour, vusers seeking more detail could spend far longer exploring the environments. Meal templates for the dishes described were typically provided during each episode, which they could import to their home or communal kitchens, or download for cooking personally. Subseries within the greater series might spend some time looking at clusters of related cultures, for example Genetekker cultures or the cultures of North Luna.

MYPTC was very much aimed at a biont audience, centring upon nearbaselines and clades with similar diets and palates. These groups constituted a majority of the Federation’s population, while appropriate cuisines were also widely available. Occasionally a subseries would be produced targeted towards other groups, notably a series of fifteen episodes centred on Neo-Dogs, which spent one episode on each of Old Earth’s six Neo-Dog cultures and then nine further episodes based on their later cultures in Solsys and foods of other clades which would appeal to them, and a series designed for herbivores such as Sufants.

The sheer diversity of cultures based in clusters of habitats built from asteroids and small moons, as well as their relatively short histories (suitable to fit into a quarter of an hour) meant that a narrow majority of all the episodes were in fact based on particular cultures of the Belt, the inner-system asteroids, the outer moons, Trojans and Hildas of the Solsys gas giants and the Kuiper Belt.

Impact

The series was profoundly influential, not only in its precipitating a revival in many styles of cooking from before the Technocalypse (in particular the curried yams and cassavas on Ganymede and many West African dishes across the Federation) but also in its increasing interest in the period more broadly. In exploring their cultural roots via foods, many Federation citizens developed deeper connections with these histories, leading to a number of partial and entire cultural revivals. What's more, old-fashioned manual cooking became much more popular and fashionable as a result of the series.

Many spin-off and copycat series were also produced. Most of these did not gain any great popularity, but two are worth noting - 'Fashions Before the Sundering' which focused on clothing styles during the same period and 'Foods from the Settlements' which looked at the cuisines of cultures which had developed from Interplanetary Age and Sundering colonisation missions, including those of Penglai, Pacifica, Barnard's Star, Navya-Bharat and so forth. This latter series was also produced by Yubeen, and in fact was the main reason for eir discontinuing the original series.

Most Popular Episodes

'Sattvik Principles in West African Cooking' - in this episode, Yubeen briefly reviewed the history of Hinduism in West Africa, including relationships between Indians and Ghanaians during the colonial era, the establishment of small Hindu groups from various sources in Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria during the Information Age and the rise of the indigenous 'Hindu Churches' during the late 100s. E went into the reasons for the strength of adherence to sattvik dietary principles among much of the West African Hindu community (including Vaishnavas, Shaivas, Smartas and Folk Hindus) and the types of foods which were typical in non-Hindu West African cuisine, before detailing sattvik rules and demonstrating the cooking of four Sattvik West African foods.

The five recipes for this episode were 1) Paneer Jollof Rice, a one-pot rice dish of rice, tomatoes, celery and paneer, strongly flavoured with cumin and ginger, cooked with palm oil, 2) Cornmeal eaten with Fried Plantains and Carrots, 3) 'Fufutchari', an adaptation of the Indian dish kitchari, consisting of fufu (a dough produced from cassava flour) cooked with mung beans and various vegetables and 4) Odomasi Stew - a stew consisting of milletmeal, okra, cauliflower, cabbage and peanuts.

'Maghrebi-Mexican Fusion Dishes in the Interamnia Confederation' - here, the episode began with a review of the history of the Interamnia Confederation, a swathe of habitats in the asteroid belt which was among its more influential cultures, united at first by a shared inclination towards government-by-lottery and later by their common culture. This culture was primarily derived from its establishment by two pre-existing loose associations of habs settled by Mexicans and Maghrebis. The two cultures mixed substantially over the course of the 300s and 400s, even to the extent of adopting a common language and similar religious tendencies.

The four dishes were 1) Couscous Burritos (cornbread burritos with containing couscous and chickpeas), 2) Tropical Fruit Tagine, containing squash, pineapple and tamarind, 3) Avocado Couscous, consisting of raw avocado on boiled vegetables and couscous and 4) Interamnian Tacos, consisting of cornbread tortillas containing okra, peanuts, black beans and tempeh (the latter having become popular in Mexico during the 100s AT following the establishment of Indonesian immigrant communities in the Yucatan).

'Sweet and Sour Ungali and Other Sinic-Congolese Dishes' - reviewed the history of Chinese development projects in the Eastern Congo, the development of interactions between Chinese engineers, bureaucrats and labourers and local Congolese peoples and the factors which produced the distinct Sinic-Congolese cuisine of the area, even after the decline of Chinese economic influence and the departure or absorption of Chinese residents.

The dishes detailed here were 1) Sweet and Sour Ugali, a Congolese cornmeal porridge with Chinese flavourings, 2) Kindu Noodles - cassava noodles with yoghurt and sweet potato, 3) Swahili Stir-fry, made with yam and plantain with soy sauce and vegetables and 4) Dammers' Dinner, composed of steamed rice, sweet potatoes, peanuts and tofu.

'Soups and Stews in the Venusian Habs' - had a look at the early colonisation of Venus, and the development of the upper-atmosphere floating habs with their highly diverse culture, drawing on European, African, Chinese and other sources. In particular, focused on the space restraints and so the need to rely on very high-efficiency food production techniques, in particular modified foods. These included the Venus Potato, which simply grew potato tubers without intervening plants when kept in a nutrient solution, and a variety of in-vitro meats.

The dishes were 1) Santiago de Venus Mash, which was composed of tofu and Venus Potato mashed together and eaten with boiled cucumbers and cauliflower, 2) Wu Stew, a stew centred upon African land snails and lentils, heavily flavoured with turmeric, 3) Wu's Other Stew, this one of yams and pineapples, 4) Tender Venison Soup, made of a modified form of tender venison grown in-vitro cooked with carrots and garlic and 5) Basic Venus Soup, a very long-simmered soup of nuts, maizemeal and soy.

'Gengineered Foodstuffs of the Mainstream Genetekkers' - the history looked at the establishment of GeneTEK in the Jovian system, the development of the early Genetekker clades and the emergence of the core Genetekker culture in the Jovian orbitals, which was composed of the Genetekkers maintaining a strong focus on directed biotech-innovation and practicing an indigenous culture with this at its core. In particular, Yubeen focused on the motives driving the Orthodox Genetekkers, who were the predecessors to the Genomorphers and later the Fusionists, in their development of their highly unique cuisine based on heavily gengineered plants, animals, fungi, microbes and mixtures of these. Other episodes would look at other Genetekker cultures of the period, including those such as Clade Sea of Chi and Clade Adroanzi which drew strongly on a particular Old Earth heritage, those which were more ideologically heterodox and those which had intermingled with the pre-existing cultures of Ganymede, Callisto and other inhabited regions of Jovian space.

The five dishes were: 1) Jonah Locust: microgravity adapted insects engineered for a variety flavours. Eaten live they would fly willingly into genetekkers' mouths, 2) Appleduck Fries, produced from Appleduck green meat (heavily engineered, vat grown meat taking its name from being a fusion of vegetable and animal tissues) fried in oil from the spice-olive, another gengineered food crop. 3) Mixi-pod, a snack pod of ready-to-eat peas containing a random mix of pea types (natural and artificial). 4) The Larmon, a niche dish for those Jovian clades engineered towards live carnivory. A Larmon was a small mammal-like creature with a variety of meat types from the spicy mid-section to the sweet tail. Its behaviour mimicked that of natural animals (including running from predators) despite having little more intelligence than an insect. 5) Auto-Ikayaki, a squid-tweak which synthesised soy sauce within its tender flesh. It grew an extra set of long, succulent tentacles devoid of pain receptors that it would display to passing aquatic genetekkers to bite off.

 
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Development Notes
Text by Kirran Lochhead StrangRyan B
Initially published on 08 April 2016.

 
 
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