Dad and Momma looked at each other.
"I thought I heard one," said Momma. "But I didn't pay it much attention."
"We're too used to noises like that back on Earth," said Dad. He dished out tonight's experiment. Food prepared from the surrounding jungle, according to directions given to them by the analysis machine. The rest of the experiment centred around making such food palatable to the settler's tongues.
Each household in WiWazheer tested a different plant product. The neighbours across the street were trying a fruit, Susan heard.
They got colonial greens.
Susan prodded the dark olive leaves in the vague hope that her fork was a magic wand that would turn the sad heap into something palatable.
"It smells like spinach and brussel sprouts," she opined. It was hard to not whine.
"Try some anyway," said Momma. "For all you know, it tastes like strawberries."
"Mmm, new food," said Dad, and stuck a huge forkful in his mouth.
The face he made was hilarious. The fact that she would soon be making a similar face was not. Susan had to wonder if this was how all food got sorted. Once upon a time, someone had to figure out that something new was edible. Then they had to make it tasty.
Susan tried a significantly smaller portion of her colonial greens.
This stuff may be a lost cause.
There was not enough cheese sauce in the universe.
"Steamed is out," agreed Dad.
Momma didn't seem to mind it at all. She snagged the steamed colonial greens off her and Dad and yummed them all down. "I don't know why you're complaining," she said. "These are lovely."
Dad shared a Look with Susan. She could almost read the words hiding behind his eyes. They said, There is something seriously wrong with this picture.
"Maybe Momma should go see the doctor, tomorrow," Susan suggested.
"Pfft," said Momma. "You're both being drama queens." She scraped up the last fragments and chased the horror-juice around with a little bit of bread. "Is there any more?"
"I could fry some," Dad offered. "See if it's any better fried."
"Steam a serving or two while you're at it?" asked Momma. "Just in case it doesn't go down well."
Susan sneaked off with her reader at the earliest opportunity. In her opinion, there was only one thing worse than eating colonial greens, and that was having to watch, and smell, someone else eating the horrid stuff. Also in her opinion, the only thing that could improve them was a direct nuclear strike.
She'd already pushed through boiled, steamed and fried colonial greens. She still had to survive them casseroled, roasted, dried and raw.
Well, if she had kids, she knew what she was going to threaten them with if they were naughty.
Colonial greens. Bluh.
Susan brushed her teeth twice to chase the taste from her memory before she tucked herself in with her e-reader. Jules Verne was hilarious in retrospect. And reading of steampunk sci-fi was a welcome change from the science reality of her life.