|Clean Shot: Gastronomical|
|Source||Clean Shot: Gastronomical|
|In the series|
Let’s start by addressing the controversy I caused in the last episode. I want to state as clearly as possible that I firmly stand by my belief that Centauri is the most overrated system in the UEE. Honestly, I didn’t expect anyone to care about it, but suddenly our comm channel was flooded with angry and defensive messages. Skinny, who actually likes Centauri, immediately forwarded me every single one regardless of what time it was received, making it one of those rare moments where I regret having a competent producer.
I went through, well, almost every one of those comms and though your arguments for the system were intriguing, they didn’t change my mind. Sure, Saisei is beautiful, but it’s also pricier than Ellroy Cass’ rehab bill. Now, l admit that my first impression of the system wasn’t ideal. My ship’s power plant died during my first haul there and the towing cost alone erased any profit from the run. And that was before paying a ridiculously inflated price for a new power plant after being told they had “just run out” of refurbs. I remember arguing with the mechanic about the cost and all she said was, “Welcome to Centauri, kiddo.”
While I don’t want to dwell on this controversy much longer, ‘cause we’ve got a lot of good stuff to get to today, I want to remind everyone that all I said was that Centauri was the most overrated system in the UEE. Not the worst, or the ugliest, just the one with the greatest disparity between the hype and the reality. It was never meant as an insult, only my humble opinion.
Think that’ll clear things up, Skinny? I’ll assume the shaking of your head means that no one could be angry with me after this. Good. Now that that’s taken care of, let’s get to today’s TroubleZone.
Today’s first stop is Magnus, where a transport full of custom Origin ships has disappeared. I flagged this because the ship’s crew hasn’t been heard from either, so if you’re carrying high-value cargo through Magnus, bring an escort or be prepared to defend yourself. Voluntarily releasing your cargo to avoid an altercation might not guarantee your safety.
Next, reports out of Chronos indicate a significant increase in scan times while going through Customs. This doesn’t affect haulers bringing goods to Synthworld, only those looking to leave the UEE and enter Branaugh. Bea Vetrano was recently on the show talking about how there are credits to be made hauling goods to the growing Tevarin diaspora in Branaugh. If you’re making that run, remember to factor additional time at Customs into the equation. Hopefully, this is just one of those blips that happen from time to time and not a permanent change. Maybe all Customs officers caught the same bug or something. We’ll keep an eye on it for the time being and let you know if there’s any improvement. Okay, that’s all for today’s TroubleZone.
Now, it’s time for something I’ve been excited to do for a while. Usually, we talk about topics like “what’s the best route to take between systems” or if that new component is worth the cost. These details are vital, but there’s one aspect of hauling that we don’t spend enough time talking about — the Human element.
That’s why we’ve brought in a special guest to discuss culinary options to keep you fueled and focused over the long haul. Some of you may know him from his Silver Leaf award-winning restaurant Gastronomical, please welcome to the show Chef Cutty Crawford.
Cutty Crawford: Love the show, Craig. We have it on in the kitchen all the time.'
I figured you’d be blasting Warbird non-stop or something like that.
There’s definitely a lot of that too, but seriously, your show was extremely helpful when launching Gastronomical.
Have to give you a big congrats on the restaurant’s success. First Silver Leaf winner to ever be based out of an 890 Jump, right?
Yeah, the “culinary cruiser,” as I like to call it. I know how to run a restaurant, but coordinating deliveries so there’d be fresh local proteins or ripe jumping limes waiting at the next LZ was absolutely essential to the restaurant’s success. That’s why I loved listening to your show. Hearing you and your guests talk about the nitty-gritty details of hauling really helped me understand and navigate the complicated logistics of running a roaming restaurant.
I can only imagine. I’ve got so many questions about how you pulled it off, but let’s start with the most important one of all… what are your thoughts on the Centauri system?
Cutty Crawford: (Laughter) I love it. We can charge more there and still be booked solid.
Thank you for reinforcing my point. Now that that’s settled, how about we get to the real reason we brought you here today?
Cutty Crawford: Let’s get to it.
Alright, so we sent Chef Crawford and his crew a few boxes of MRE ration packs, and they spent the past few weeks taste testing. We wanted to know what their professional palettes thought of this staple of the hauler’s diet.
Cutty Crawford: I’ve got some strong opinions to share after this little experiment.
Then let’s begin. What were your thoughts on ReadyMeal?
Cutty Crawford: When I hear MRE, this is the brand that immediately comes to my mind. Growing up, I had more than my fair share on long trips with the family, but it’d been decades since I last had one.
So how did they hold up compared to your memory?
Cutty Crawford: Maybe it was the nostalgia factor, but I was surprised by how much I liked them. Flavors were good. Mouthfeel was bland, but there’s not going to be much variance in texture when the meal is mostly powder.
You have a favorite meal?
Cutty Crawford: I’m a Meatball Marinara fan. You?
Chicken Patty with Noodle.
Cutty Crawford: Interesting. That flavor ran out the fastest with my crew too. Some people really like it.
Glad to hear that the old standby met with some approval. I guess it’s a classic for a reason. Moving on, how does Ma’s Ready to Eat attempt at recreating home-cooked food measure up?
Cutty Crawford: I think calling it “food” is an insult to food. Look, I know they’re meant to be affordable meal replacements, but all the Ma’s varieties had a very unpleasant synthetic aftertaste to me.
I agree. Felt kinda bad even sending you a box, but I gotta be thorough.
Cutty Crawford: One of the cooks read the ingredient labels and even we couldn’t figure out what’s in these things. It sounded more like a scientific study than an ingredients list. Honestly, I almost came close to not tasting all the flavors they had, but I managed to soldier through at least one bite of each.
Everyone at Clean Shot appreciates your fortitude and commitment. Seems like your thoughts on Ma’s Ready to Eat meals are pretty clear, so let’s move on to Omni Packs, which claims to use premium and organic ingredients for a better tasting meal. Does their claim hold up?
Cutty Crawford: I’m conflicted about this one.
Does that mean you didn’t like them?
Cutty Crawford: No, I did. They definitely tasted better than the other brands, but calling it a “premium taste” is a stretch.
One thing that’s certain is you’re definitely paying a premium. Omni Packs are basically the Centauri of MREs.
Cutty Crawford: And that’s why I’m so conflicted. If I had to choose between these three brands for dinner tonight, I’d pick Omni Packs’ Boumbo flavor, hands down. But if I needed to stock my ship, I’m not sure the extra cost is worth it.
As a professional chef, which brand would you recommend to haulers looking for a decent meal while on the drift?
Cutty Crawford: Clearly, the best flavor for the price is ReadyMeal.
Skinny’s smiling from ear to ear right now because he just won our bet. I’m a ReadyMeal man myself, but I was convinced you’d pick OmniPacks.
Cutty Crawford: They’re good and all, but I’d rather make a ReadyMeal and spend a few of the creds I saved on ingredients to add flavor and freshness to the dish. A squirt of hot sauce or fresh oza juice goes a long way in taking those chicken patties to the next level.
That’s a great idea and exactly why I wanted to bring you on the show. Ok, it’s time to take a quick commercial break. When we’re back, I’ve got a bunch of questions for Chef Cutty Crawford on coordinating the logistics of a culinary cruiser. Don’t go anywhere. There’s more Clean Shot coming your way.