DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht. This is in answer to a challenge on the Trek Tales site where Spock has to eat something with his hands... This is in direct reference to something mentioned on Enterprise in the premiere episode.

When in Rome


"Spock, try some of these," Nyota Uhura offered and handed her superior officer a plate of pickle spears. Spock pricked it with a fork and placed it on his plate. He liked pickles immensely. He would eat that after he had finished with the cole slaw. The idea to have an old-fashioned picnic in the park had not been favorable with him, but he was reconsidering his preconceived notions of the event. There had been an abundance of food that was not from the ship's computers. He did not wish to admit it, and if he were directly asked, he would deny it, but he preferred hand prepared food to the reconstituted rations the computer offered. Chewing a mouth full of slaw and swallowing, he asked, "Who prepared the cole slaw?"

Nyota mused a moment and finally had to look at the list of contributions. "C. Chapel. In fact, she's made everything you have on your plate including the pickles. She's been working on this stuff for a week now."

Spock could tell. She had provided nearly the entire buffet of vegetarian dishes. His own contribution had been rather paltry; he had provided paper plates. Still, they had been on the list of items needed and he was not able to deliver any of the foods requested. He didn't even know what succotash was or hominy grits, but he was certain that McCoy had something to do with those requests. Across from him, Uhura picked up another piece of the 'real' chicken that had been demanded. He found the act distasteful. Humans seemed to relish eating with their hands. On Vulcan it was considered in extremely bad taste to pick up food to eat with the hands. Preparation was different. It was necessary to touch food in order to cook it, but it was never considered appropriate to touch it afterwards before it was consumed.

"Mr. Spock, are you enjoying your ... lunch?" came a voice from behind. He turned to see Christine Chapel with another platter to add to the table. Her blue eyes sparkled in the summer sunlight.

"Indeed, it is exceptionally well prepared," he managed between forkfuls of bean salad and spinach casserole. He was apparently enjoying everything to the point of over consumption. She noted this. "Mr. Spock you'd better slow down or you'll burst."

"Vulcans can consume much larger quantities of food than humans within a short period of time. It will not have an ill-effect," he stated confidently.

The blonde nurse smiled a little warily. "Well, whatever you say. But, you are signed up for the corn eating contest. You might want to save what extra space you have for that."

Spock was confused. "Signed up for a contest?"

"Yeah, you agreed to enter the corn on the cob eating contest last week when we had a sheet going around. You are competing against Engineering Chief Petrie," Uhura reminded.

The Vulcan sat in silence for a moment, poked the pickle spear and bit into it. "These are not from a jar?"

"Nope, old family recipe," Christine nodded and leaned across him to reach the catsup. "Excuse me."

She started to leave that section of the table. Uhura stopped her. "Sit here. It's the best spot in the house."

"Yes, the food is convenient."

The nurse chuckled. "Oh all right. So, how's the chicken? Burnell was busy half the morning trying to get all those fryers cut up."

Nyota relished every bite of the succulent meat. "This is sooo good. Mr. Spock, it really is a shame that you don't eat meat. You'll never know what you miss."

"I assure you lieutenants that while I do not eat meat, I do appreciate all of the food that has been prepared for this event. I believe you are responsible for most of those," he said and nodded his thanks to Christine.

She smiled, "Well, I just like to cook that's all. I am pleased that you like the selections."

* * *

The afternoon passed quickly with the entire ship's complement, or at least all those who had wished to attend, milling about the park and the lake. The day had been planned out to include both lunch and supper and to have booths and contests set up to raise money for various charities and causes. Halfway through the afternoon was the corn eating contest. Commander Spock was led to the table that was set up for the event. Captain Kirk would be officiating this one. "Spock, you're just in time."

Spock wondered how he ever allowed himself to be talked into an eating contest. Still, he was not overly full and he did like corn. Looking at the plates that were being brought out steaming hot and stacked full, he was curious. He had never seen it prepared in this manner before. It was still fully connected to the cob. "Excuse me, Captain, this corn has not been correctly prepared," he pointed out.

"What, of course it has. Spock, don't tell me you've never eaten corn on the cob before? This is the only way to eat it. You'll love it, believe me," Jim Kirk assured with a grin and a slap on the back. It was times like these that he could let that usual no-touch rule between he and his first officer to drop.

Leonard McCoy was grinning like a Cheshire cat. "Son, you've never had corn till it's been cooked on the cob just drippin' with butter and salt and pepper to taste. My mama always said I looked like one big butter kid when I'd get done there'd be so much of it dripping off my hands."

Hands..."You do not mean to tell me that I will be required to eat it with my bare hands?"

"Of course, how else?" the two chorused.

"But it is inappropriate..." he began and trailed off at their bemused looks. He was torn between completing a task that he had promised to do and his stature in Vulcan cultural taboos. The taboos won out. "I regret gentlemen that I cannot do this."

"But Spock, you're entered and the only other contestant. A lot of people have bet money on the outcome and that money is going to go to an orphanage on Deneb III. You wouldn't want to deprive those poor waifs of three square meals a day, would you?" Jim Kirk asked, shocked to see his first officer try to back out of a commitment.

"No, I will recompense whatever would have been the winnings," he decided.

"Come on Spock, it's just a contest. Consider it a sporting event and that you are simply following the rules," Leonard McCoy tried.

Spock thought about it. There were no other Vulcans present, it would not effect his place in their society, but it would injure his own reputation aboard ship if he did not do as he had agreed. His duty to his ship was above his cultural taboos. "I shall do as I promised."

"Good, then let's get started. If you two gentlemen will take your places..." They both had the option of sitting or standing, they chose to sit at first. Plates with hot corn was placed in front of them as well as spigots of butter and herb shakers. They would be allowed to dress their corn before digging into them. Spock chose to douse his with butter, no salt or other herbs. After this was done, the time was counted down. A crowd began cheering them on. Spock found the corn to be quite tasty although he was unused to this slippery sensation. He'd had to watch Petrie for a moment to see just how he was supposed to commence eating the corn in the first place. One cob, two, three, soon he had a dozen corn cobs cleaned and sitting next to his plate. A new platter of hot corn was brought forward. Petrie was beginning to breath a little hard. He was a large man who had no trouble with the task, but Spock was a stiff competitor. Already he was an entire corn cob ahead of the engineer. Finally, after much egging on and an almost pained expression, he had to stop with fifteen ears of corn. Spock was still eating. The bell sounded and Spock stopped. He was glad of it too. He was beginning to feel ill. "The winner... Commander Spock."

A cheer went through part of the crowd, and the rest, the majority who had bet against him, groaned. All of their winnings would go to the orphans on Deneb III. Dripping with butter and with niblets plastered all over his face, he tried to figure out how to clean himself up without moving. He was certain if he moved he would burst. McCoy sensed his problem. "Something wrong Spock?"

"I am unable to move and I am beginning to congeal," he muttered.

Christine Chapel appeared beside McCoy with a wet towel. "Here, Mr. Spock, you might want to clean up."

"Thank you, nurse. Also, is there anything you could give me for my stomach? I seem to have over eaten..."