When I’m building ships, I like to think of what tech would be available for the time. Example: If I’m doing a really small ship in the TNG era, I don’t have to worry about as much cargo or “crew niceties” space on the ship because they have replicators to “create” both food and equipment. So, there’s no need to devote internal space to things like a galley and you can get by with less cargo bays. However, when considering a ship in the Enterprise-era, you have to factor in that they’d need a galley and more cargo bays. A ship like Enterprise that’s out in unexplored space has to bring lots of food and cargo with them because there are no supply bases in operation yet and they can’t guarantee they’re going to find what they need on the planets they visit. The problem I’m having is with the TOS-era. Did they have replicators? Unfortunately, there is evidence that supports both having and not having them. (typical of TOS and its lack of continuity)
Going back to Enterprise, they had something called a protein resequencer, which is obviously a forebearer to the food replicator. As I understand it, they could carry a block of protein and nutrient enriched “blank” food stuff with them and then use the resequencer to form it into whatever food the cook feels like making. This allows them to not necessarily carry specific food types with them, some of which may need refrigeration or can go bad. This is very important when doing something like space exploration. Also, the ship has a (never seen but mentioned) botanical garden aboard, as the later Enterprises did. This allows them to grow fresh vegetables and also generates oxygen. For drinks, we see them using the beverage slots on the wall, but these don’t necessarily mean they have anything terribly fancy behind it. It may work on the same principle as the modern day soda “gun” that restaurants use, where you push a button and the correct drink syrup is mixed with carbonated water and comes out the tap. The crew of the Enterprise may simply know what drinks are on hand and order them and that drink dispenser puts it into the drinking vessel in a predetermined amount, or it may even have sensors to tell it when the glass/mug is full. (of course, in real life, it was just some person on the other side of the wall pouring the stuff through a tube for them 😛 ) All of that I’m good with.
Now, on to TOS. Firstly, we know the ship had a galley, it was mentioned in Charlie X. (admittedly, not one of their best episodes) In fact, this is actually what got me thinking of this, because yesterday was Thanksgiving in the US. In that episode, Kirk tells the galley: “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving, the crew has to eat synthetic metloaf, but I want it to taste like turkey.” Ignoring the problems with “On Earth today it’s Thanksgiving,” that whole thing raises some issues. Firstly, what is synthetic meatloaf? Does that mean replicated? Or, does it mean that they use something like the protein resequencer to make it? If they can make synthetic meatloaf, why can’t they make synthetic turkey? Obviously, if they had something like a replicator, it wasn’t creating the finished meal, since they still had to bake the food. Now, admittedly, this was simply a plot device so that Charlie could use his powers to turn the synthetic meatloaf into real turkeys. Unfortunately, this is one of only two examples where I can remember a galley being mentioned. The other is Star Trek VI. (the infamous “Why not simply waporize them?” scene) In that movie, we see the galley. Hell, we even see stewards setting places in the
observation lounge officers’ mess. They’re in the galley when Chekov (who, as security chief should know better) asks why somebody wouldn’t just vaporize those gravity boots and Valeris vaporizes a stock pot, setting off the ship’s internal alarm. So, there’s evidence that, even in 2293, the ship was using a galley.
The problem is, most of the rest of the time, evidence supports replicators. In almost every other episode where somebody is eating in the mess hall/rec room, we see them get their food out of those slots in the wall. These are all over the ship, even in the transporter room (for when Kyle gets the munchies, I guess.) Of course, you could simply say that these are sophisticated dumbwaiters. It could be an elevator, or it could even be a transporter. (just because intraship beaming is dangerous for crew members at this time doesn’t mean they can’t beam more simple things) The crew could make selections based on what is available and the galley crew makes it appear in the slot for them. This is challenged in a few episodes, most notably Tomorrow is Yesterday. In that episode, when the Air Force guard is aboard and stuck in the transporter room, Kyle asks him what he wants, and he ponders it a moment and replies “chicken soup.” Kyle flips through a few of those data tapes they have and puts one in the slot next to the food slot, and out pops chicken soup. “Isn’t it amazing they just happen to have exactly what you asked for?” That question was posed by Cdr. Riker in Encounter at Farpoint, when the “station” was able to convert energy into matter and created the exact fabric Dr. Crusher wanted. I find it terribly coincidental that the galley crew of the Enterprise just happens to have chicken soup on hand that day and can put it into the food slot in seconds for that guard. To me, that suggests replication. And, in other instances where they used the food slots, the crew got whatever they wanted. Of course, they could be making choices predetermined by what is on the menu that day, but that example from Tomorrow is Yesterday suggests otherwise, as the AF guard has no idea what’s on the menu. (unless Kyle gave him a menu while we weren’t looking, but I doubt that) Going back to Star Trek VI, the ship not only had a galley, but it had replicators as well. Now, I know that was the “budget” ST film and they used a lot of redressed TNG sets, but Kirk’s quarters had a replicator with dishes in it.
So, when the hell did this technology come about? Can we ignore Charlie X and part of what was done in Star Trek VI and simply say that they had replicators? I think there’s incredibly strong evidence to support this. Please, share your thoughts on this.