Set phasers to yum: Star Trek’s food is analyzed in a new season of The Feast

Star Trek: The Original Series
Screenshot: Netflix
PodmassPodmassIn Podmass, The A.V. Club sifts through the ever-expanding world of podcasts and recommends the previous week’s best episodes. Have your own favorite? Let us know in the comments or at

All My Relations
Food Sovereignty: A Growing Movement

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Chances are very good that if you are reading this you are a person, and most likely a person who eats. This universal human experience is explored in a recent episode of All My Relations, a podcast about indigeneity in all its complexities with hosts Matika Wilbur (Swinomish and Tulalip) and Adrienne Keene (Cherokee Nation), indigenous feminists you should know if you don’t. Committed to representation work, Wilbur and Keene learn along with listeners, facilitating crucial conversations for Native Americans and visitors alike. Guest Valerie Segrest, of The Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, imparts the wisdom of incorporating traditional foods back into Native diets and explains how it can change physical and spiritual health for both individuals and communities. The small sustainable additions she suggests sound really attainable: drinking a life-changing nettle tea or making a rose-hip jam, really getting to know one plant. This accessible breakdown of how colonialism affects access to traditional foods and food security will have you rethink your whole relationship to what you eat and why. [Morgan McNaught]

Dare I Say
“We Could Go Back To A Time Where Thousands Of Women Die” / “I Always Ask ‘Boy, Girl, Or Trans’?”

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Bazaar’s newest podcast series, Dare I Say, highlights some of the most influential and important women of our time. Hosted by actor and model Olivia Wilde, each episode provides a platform for women to discuss a topic concerning American civil rights and modern feminist ideas. Last the podcast debuted with two informative episodes. The first, featuring Planned Parenthood’s new president, Dr. Leana Wen, and Roe V. Wade lawyer Sarah Weddington, has Wilde and company discussing the various threats presented to women’s healthcare in 2019 by the Trump administration regarding reproductive rights and how the Supreme Court polices women’s bodies. The second episode features actors Rosario Dawson and Laverne Cox speaking on the importance of intersectional feminism and how to combat anti-trans legislation. Both episodes avoid playing out as crash courses for their respective topics, choosing instead to drop facts about what jeopardizes women the most in America and how to play a part in fighting for women’s rights. Dare I Say wants listeners to fully understand: Despite the women who won yesterday, civil rights issues are still prevalent today. It’s when passivity is the norm that civil rights are threatened. [Kevin Cortez]

Don’t Interrupt Me, Por Favor
Art, Gun Violence, Identity, And Activism

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When Joaquin “Guac” Oliver was murdered during the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018, his father mourned a double loss. For Manuel Oliver, an artist and activist, the death of his son also represented the death of his American Dream. In this deeply moving conversation with hosts Guillermo Fesser, Lisa Button, and Nick Leiber, Oliver recounts the trauma of immigrating to the U.S. in search of safety and refuge only to arrive in a country plagued by gun violence, and describes his work creating Walls Of Demand, a nationwide art project protesting this epidemic. After the shootings, he says, “I just needed to do something, and the only thing that I could do was keep on using my art and just turn the message into something that will not only honor my son, but also fight gun violence and demand for real answers.” Interdisciplinary artist Julia Santos Solomon also discusses the personal creative process that drove her recent work on a mural reflecting the cultural diversity of its surrounding community, and inspires public conversations about identity, culture, and immigration—recurring themes on this bilingual podcast. [Sofia Barrett-Ibarria]

Everything Is Alive
Emmy, Pregnancy Test

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Emmy’s first memories take place in a Rite-Aid. Then, someone grabs her off the shelf and takes her home. Now, she says, she can only stay positive… or negative. All she knows is that, if everything goes according to plan, she’s going to get peed on. In Everything Is Alive, host Ian Chillag interviews innocuous, inanimate objects (an almost expired soda can, a balloon afraid to hit the ground, a lonely lamppost) with enough disarming earnestness to actually pull off such a tricky concept. Emmy, for instance, just wants to be included—in the choices people make, in all the family photos. Her results change people’s lives, after all, so why does she just get thrown away? It’s hard not to feel some kind of strange empathy for these objects. After all, their very raison d’être is their usefulness to the human beings who created them. If all these ontological truths seem a bit heavy, ultimately the playfulness that drives the conversations on Everything Is Alive reveals the show’s guiding principle: that meaning, in an absurd universe, is what we make it. As Louis, the can of soda, puts it: “It’s a gift to get to be anything at all.” [Amber Cortes]

If These Ovaries Could Talk
Race And Donor Choice

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Jaimie Kelton and Robin Hopkins are here to help! These women are dedicated to helping other lesbian couples navigate the amazing yet difficult world of conceiving a child in this modern landscape. This week, they invite listeners Tiffany and Carissa onto the show to help them talk through their choice of which race their child will be. Tiffany and Carissa are in an interracial relationship, and when it comes to what their child will identify with in the future, they are very stressed about what the future might hold. Not only do the women discuss the issue of colorism, particularly in the African-American community, but they also dive into the idea of class playing a huge role in how they are choosing to conceive. Luckily, both Jaimie and Robin offer very insightful takes on the matter. They stress the importance of having a community of like-minded and understanding members of the LGBTQ community to help raise their child and teach them their values. Whether you’re looking to conceive or just want to be an ally, this episode provides support for anyone looking to start a family their own way. [Vannessa Jackson]

Masala Jones

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What does it look like to try to become a famous porn star as an Indian-American man who dropped out of medical school? It looks like Samar Rajamouli becoming Masala Jones, naïvely entering a world that is as weird as it is unfortunately familiar. It looks like Samar trying to fix his parents’ crumbling marriage while keeping them from finding out about his career, like a constant battle of finding legitimacy when encountering derision against sex workers. In “Premature,” Samar has to juggle dinner with his parents and the racist, toxic scene added to his new movie role. It captures the podcast’s humor, sex positivity, and discussions about race and representation in a quick-witted cycle through Samar’s ongoing conversations and relationships as they all begin to intersect. The conversation with his parents is the centerpiece of the episode: brilliant, heart-wrenching, funny, and insightful. This is the emotional turning point for the season, one that brought some tears to my eyes and fire to my step, as Samar refuses to back down from what he feels is the right thing to do, even if it means his life is going to get more uncomfortable than it does on set. [Elena Fernández-Collins]

A Fine Mist With Thomas Middleditch

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Getting Thomas Middleditch as a guest is a feather in the cap of any improvised comedy podcast. The Silicon Valley star is an improv veteran and always manages to bring in the most absurd, outlandish characters that are often concealing some deeper darkness. His recent appearance on Mega—Campfire Media’s improvised satire podcast set in a fictional megachurch—is no exception. Hosts Holly Laurent and Greg Hess invite Middleditch in as Tim Middleman, an aged amateur airman and committed follower of Christ. Of course, being a man of faith hasn’t stopped Middleman from being a party to numerous gruesome murders, many of which involve people getting chopped up in airplane propellers or being devoured by packs of rabid dogs. While Middleditch’s dark absurdity is entertaining enough, hearing Laurent and Hess respond to it with unflinching positivity and quotes from scripture really takes it over the top. It’s also impressive how many real aeronautic specifics Middleditch—an amateur pilot in his own right—is able to reference throughout the episode. It adds an extra level of verisimilitude to an inherently ridiculous situation and almost makes you forget it’s all made up. Almost. [Dan Neilan]

No Bad Ideas
Netflix For Journalism (With Amanda McLoughlin)

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No Bad Ideas is a frenetic take on a writing podcast. Hosts Gabriel Urbina, [former Onion News Network employee] Sarah Shachat, and Zach Valenti, creators of landmark audio fiction podcast Wolf 359, take a bad idea from the internet, set a timer for half an hour, and challenge themselves to write a compelling narrative based on that bad idea before time runs out. This week, they’re joined by another podcaster extraordinaire: Amanda McLoughlin, co-host of Spirits, Join The Party, and Waystation, and one of the founders of the Multitude podcast collective. The episode’s bad idea is a story about the creator of the Trollface meme copyrighting his creation to monetize it, and the narrative they weave around the idea is wild and shockingly intriguing. Their banter while trying to turn the idea into some actual narrative structure is hilarious and invigorating, showing that in writing, the only real “bad idea” is not writing at all. The last half of the podcast is a discussion between the four hosts of the episode, focusing on monetization, having a day job, and a good dose of Walt Whitman appreciation. [Wil Williams]

The Feast
Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Tales From A Star Trek Speakeasy

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The third season of The Feast kicks off a couple centuries in the future, deep in space, to explore “the history of the future of food” in Star Trek. Food historian Laura Carlson interviews Glenn McDorman and Valerie Hoagland, hosts of the podcast Lower Decks, about the evolution of Star Trek’s treatment of food. From the colorful nutrient cubes at the start of The Original Series, to Picard’s replicator tea, to the cultural implications of Vulcan vegetarianism, McDorman and Hoagland explain how Star Trek has always used gastronomy both to build a compelling world and to answer pressing questions about society and consumption. While some nuances of the discussion might be lost on listeners whose Trek knowledge is less than encyclopedic, the episode is a charming and surprisingly engaging look at how culture, media, and the politics of eating invariably intertwine. Its combination of nerd kitsch and analysis makes it a well-balanced season opener. The episode even closes out with tips for listeners interested in making their own own Trek-inspired cocktails (and yes, one of them is bright Romulan blue). [Jade Matias Bell]

The Lanalax Corporation
Bass Buddies Ride Again

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The Lanalax Corporation is basically a choose-your-own-adventure game mixed with a Voight-Kampff test that inevitably ends in tragedy. It’s also hilarious. In each episode, comedians Pat Dean and Aaron Brooks guide a guest or each other through a what-if scenario about their future. It can begin as innocently as getting a free hamburger from a place called Tiddy Jims and end with a murder revenge plot in Pontiac, Michigan, orchestrated by a talking teddy bear. In between, they stack absurdity upon absurdity, and half the fun is listening to guests reacting to situations like being part of a middle school jazz band that only plays Rage Against The Machine covers. It’s the kind of podcast you just jump into because there are neither intros from the hosts, nor any explanation about the format of the show or who the guests are. There is no small talk or catching up; there is only the scenario and the decisions made within it. Not that it really matters what decisions the guests make, because they always end up dying and being ridiculed for being stupid enough to die. You have to laugh, though. They died. Those idiots. [Anthony D. Herrera]

To Live And Die In L.A.
Toxic Love

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Award-winning Rolling Stone journalist and bestselling author Neil Strauss continues his investigation into the still-open case of Adea Shabani. Her boyfriend, person of interest Chris Spotz, has been tracked down to a friend’s apartment, so Strauss stakes out the building. As he nervously waits for a chance to speak to Spotz, Strauss begins piecing together the fragments of the complicated relationship left behind in videos and screenshots. He discovers a chaotic story of young love that involved an affair, physical fights, threats to frame each other for murder, and more. Their love is perhaps best encapsulated by Chris himself, who after choking Adea and leaving her unconscious, texts, “If I came today and you were dead I was going to burn the motherfucker to the ground. That’s the kind of love we have.” This week’s episode has compelling narration that creates feelings of suspense and urgency. Listeners will feel as if they’re on the stakeout with Neil while they hear the gut-wrenching audio recorded during the aspiring actress’ final days. “Toxic Love” is only the fourth episode, but it solidifies To Live And Die In L.A. as the latest addictive true crime podcast. [Nichole Williams]

You Good? With Mike Brown
Still A Black Dude Ft. Mamoudou N’Diaye

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While there are many podcasts where mental health is the major topic of discussion, the recently launched You Good? is a show that reminds listeners that African-Americans have mental health issues, too. Comedian Mike Brown (formerly of The Comedy Outliers Podcast) interviews fellow comedians and friends of color not just about mental health, but other matters that pertain to being Black in America. The latest episode he did with comic/DJ/activist Mamoudou N’Diaye is a notable one, since the two men basically rap about how hard it is for African-American men to stay sane and grounded in a society that still views them as a threat. Using the Terry Crews sexual harassment scandal as a jumping-off point, they break down how Black men continually have to tread lightly, even when they’re around white (and Black) people who are clearly in the wrong. “Unfortunately,” says N’Diaye, “as a Black dude in the country, you don’t have the luxury of wilding out whenever you want.” For all those pale-skinned people who want to know just how difficult life is on the daily for your African-American brothas and sistas, You Good? is a good place to start. [Craig D. Lindsey]

Young House Love Has A Podcast
The Fascinating Ways Homes Differ Around The World

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Mailbag episodes are welcome aid for pressured hosts toiling in an industry beset with burnout, and they can provide an interesting turn of the mirror toward a niche show’s audience. Or they could be some boring-ass filler. Not so for this edition of a longtime home-improvement show hosted by a married pair of fixer-uppers, who request intel from listeners around the globe about local design quirks. From the “Pittsburgh potty” to Australians calling electrical outlets “power points,” do these fans deliver the memorable idiosyncrasies. Forget simple layout tweaks; many countries use entire rooms alien to the American condition. Saunas come standard in Finland, South Africans enjoy indoor barbecues called braais, and many Asian countries have elaborate entryways for guests to remove their shoes in comfort. A few regional hacks make so much sense it’s shocking they aren’t universal, like wall-mounted toilet bowls you can clean under, or a dish rack tucked inside a bottomless cupboard hung above the kitchen sink. Ultimately, what might divide human life the most is the way we launder garments; every country is partial to its own method. Leave it to the Australians to invent a drinking game with their clotheslines. [Zach Brooke]

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