I was thinking about food replicators and thought to myself that, in reality, ordering food from a replicator would be a horrible experience - particularly if you were behind someone at the replicator who simply couldn't make a decision.
Much like Tom Paris' "tomato soup" exchange in Caretaker
, you couldn't just walk up to a replicator and say "I'll have a ham sandwich and some chips." Too many variables. What kind of bread? What kind of ham? Musturd? Cheese? (What kind?) American "chips" or British? (Again, what kind?) Plus if you were ordering food
you would have
to have some kind of visual interface to preview your meal choice one would think.
I see the way around it is perhaps crew members would have to set up their "favorite" foods in advance, so that when Janeway orders coffee or Dax orders raktajino or pudding, the replicator knows exactly what variables they prefer, in terms of temperature, how strong, etc. If they set up their favorites in their quarters, the interface might also sport a screen for ease of use, much like the "replication center" on the Enterprise
in Data's Day
Tom Paris got the runaround about the soup because it was his first time to Voyager, and as an observer might not have technically even been officially part of the crew. I imagine that for subsequent visits to the mess hall, Paris could simply just say "tomato soup" and get it the way he prefers, while another crew member like say, Chell, could order it the very same way and get his "Bolian style with rice" without needing to specify.
There might also be "generic" meal choices, like when Sisko orders "Entree number 103" in Blaze of Glory
, which was familiar enough to Eddington that he could identify it by number and contents.