One of the most endearing features of the Futurama series is the thoroughly lived-in, familiar nature of the universe in which the characters dwell. It comes fully fleshed out, with cereals like Bachelor Chow, interplanetary fast-food franchises like Fishy Joe’s, billion-dollar soda companies like Slurm, and even soap operas like “Single Female Lawyer” that are pirated in distant galaxies.
In addition, the universe of Futurama comes with its own celebrities. And, perhaps none is so memorable as Elzar, a Neptunian celebrity chef with very questionable morals, and multifaceted cooking skills. Even when he’s swindling the crew of the Planet Express out of $1,200, Elzar is putting his talents on display by preparing meals for several humans, a Decapodian, and a robot.
With that in mind, we’re going to evaluate some of the on-screen dishes Elzar prepared. Perhaps we’ll find some real-life substitutions so you can replicate the high-end Neptunian restaurant experience.
Right off the bat, Elzar appears to possess a mastery of the basics. When the usually poor Zoidberg gets his hands on $300 for the first time in his life and materializes at Elzar’s New New York restaurant, Elzar presents him with a standard foie gras and caviar. Zoidberg asks Elzar why he served the garbage parts of the animals since he preferred the full goose or fish. Elzar insists that this is what rich people prefer the liver and the eggs.
When Fry inadvertently stands up Leela for her birthday, she orders Elzar’s Lobster Pileup, leaving him with an astronomical bill. The dish is simply a gargantuan serving of lobsters, which would undoubtedly cost a pretty penny at any high-end restaurant. As the setup for a rather lewd joke, Elzar serves Plant Express’ Jamaican accountant a mountainous helping of jerked chicken. The point? To confirm that there was no “meat” that Elzar couldn’t “jerk.”
Another customary dish Elzar produces is the Hard Boiled Carp, which is listed as a special. The only odd thing about the presentation is that Elzar serves the fish with an apple stuffed in its mouth. Also, when Bender shows up at Elzar’s restaurant to feed one dozen recently-adopted orphans, Elzar shows off the quality of his children’s menu by serving them pigeon in the form of his Children’s Spicy Squab.
At Elzar’s Las Vegas restaurant – which is co-owned by the Wong family – Elzar suggests the group order the grizzly bear dipped in cornmeal. Since several legitimate steak recipes require the use of cornmeal, this dish isn’t unreasonable. However, the means with which Elzar is able to convince the table to order the dish are highly dubious. Before ordering the grizzly, Amy Wong unexpectedly asked to know the grizzly’s name. When Elzar replied that the bear’s name was “Jo Jo,” Amy became excited and replied “Oooo! I’ll have him!”
While advising Bender on what ingredients to use for a first-prize-worthy sausage in the 31st century, Elzar steers Bender away from conventional meats like pork. He recommends preposterous ingredients like “the choicest cuts of hummingbird,” or a rack of angel’s wings which can be ground into Heavenwurst. Elzar then reveals he intends to craft pork sausage, using a special pork aged in an Egyptian sarcophagus for 3,000 years.
Late in the series, Elzar asks the Planet Express crew to deliver his special, Nitroglycerine Souffle to Mrs. Astor, a woman so wealthy that she would only take her nitroglycerine medication in souffle form. So, Elzar carefully applies the liquid nitroglycerine to the surface of the souffle with an eye dropper.
He also supplies Fry and Leela with a meal of boiled mutant ants involving ants so large they resembled lobsters. While this meal may seem like alien cuisine, ants are frequently consumed as food on nearly every continent. The only irregularity in this scene is the ants’ monstrous size.
Our real picks for Earth Food
- Foie Gras: Fond Restaurant in Philadelphia, PA
- Pork Sausage: Alimentari at Left Bank in Raleigh, NC
- Lobster: Eventide Oyster Co. in Portland, ME and Boston, MA
- Cod: Terra Luna in North Truro, MA
- Quail (in lieu of pigeon): The Grey in Savannah, GA
- Soufflé: Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, LA
Elzar doesn’t shy away from serving his customers the native dishes of his home planet, Neptune. The two clear blue-planet dishes he offers up are his Neptune-style Gumbo, and his Neptunian Slug Fricassee. The latter dish is the most challenging to create because it involves the strangulation of a fresh slug before mixing in a genetically modified eggplant. The already-massive slug grows to a ludicrous size before baring its teeth, attempting to fend off strangulation. Expecting this, Elzar came prepared with cast-iron cookware with which to pummel the Neptunian slug.
To appease world-famous television host Morbo, Elzar prepares what he terms as an Unnameable Horror from Beyond, with Mango Chutney. He never explains what’s in the dish aside from the chutney, but removing the lid from the pot unleashes sufficient electromagnetic radiation to expose Morbo’s skull. It’s highly unlikely that a human could survive a bite of this dish, no matter how much mango it contains.
Our Real Picks for Alien Cuisine
Elzar’s mastery of food extends to cuisine consumed by robots. During his bilking of the Planet Express Crew, he presents Bender with a special Sterno Nicoise – a consumable food somehow contained within a flaming Sterno cup. The dish was so good that even Fry finds it to be tasty even after it severely burns his mouth. Frankly, we’re not sure how the dish could possibly have been imbued with the essence of nicoise, which involves olives, tomatoes and anchovies. But, Elzar has his ways.
Sadly, we never get to view several of the nonsensical nightly specials posted on the sign outside of Elzar’s restaurant. The viewers have to use their imagination for these dishes. The dishes include the Leg of Salmon, Cream of Nothing, Fillet of Skeleton, and the horrific-sounding Fish ‘n’ Chimps, which suggests that Elzar serves his customers some fried-and-breaded chimpanzee meat right alongside the customary cod. Then again, the eating practices of New New York’s residents are shocking by our 21st-century sensibilities. The crew of the Planet Express once consumed an entire dolphin, with Professor Farnsworth personally requesting to be served the speech center of the dolphin’s brain.
As a nod of appeasement to millions of Star Wars fans who loathed the controversial Jar Jar Binks character, the Elzar’s restaurant once featured Jar Jar Tartare, suggesting that Elzar (or someone close to him) murdered, cooked and served the buffoonish Gungan to his customers.
For all of his ethical faults, Elzar never failed to serve up at least one relatable food item. For the final episode in the series, he offers a giant, living clam that holds the engagement ring Fry presents to Leela. Futurama fans waited for this moment for the show’s entire run. And, everyone’s favorite purple, four-armed Neptunian chef made the moment memorable.
Our real picks for Robot Food
- Niçoise: Rue Cler in Durham, NC
- Bone Marrow: Soul Gastrolounge in Charlotte, NC
- Fish & Chips: The CODfather, Proper Fish & Chips in Charleston, SC
- Tartare: Jolie Restaurant in Raleigh, NC
- Clams: Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough in Noank, CT
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