The Expanse, Amazon’s space-based, hard sci-fi series based on the novels by James S.A. Corey, is now back for its fifth and penultimate season. The first three episodes are available to stream right now, with new episodes arriving weekly through early February, if all goes according to plan. Those first three episodes gave us plenty of Inner-Belter drama, protomolecule problems, and solo adventures for Holden, Naomi, Amos, Alex, Bobbie, Drummer, Avasarala, and more (yeah, there’s a lot going on.) But what we didn’t see coming was a nod to the classic animated sitcom, The Simpsons.
Granted, it’s got nothing to do with the plot at all, and it’s not a pop culture reference from any of the characters; they’ve managed to keep that sense of separation intact. But for those of us who fondly remember the banner days of The Simpsons, and in particular Homer’s first trip to New York City, you’ll absolutely recognize the familiar call of the Khlav Kalash vendor.
First, before we get to The Expanse and how its brilliant writers room folded in a Simpsons icon, let’s revisit the Khlav Kalash vendor himself: Back in 1997, Homer visited The Big Apple and ran into all kinds of trouble. One notable side adventure found him grabbing a bite and a beverage (or 20) at a questionable food cart near the World Trade Center. You can watch the hilarious bit here:
Notably, as recapped by Eater (of all things) back in 2012, The Simpsons‘ long-running writers room opted to give the Khlav Kalash vendor not just a reprisal in a return trip to New York City, but a glow-up. What started with a food cart is now a 50,000-square foot Times Square restaurant featuring nothing but Khlav Kalash. And if The Expanse can be considered canon, it’s clear that the delicacy of unknown origin is still an Earthly delight in the far future.
Snappy bits of broken English dialogue like, “No pizza, only Khlav Kalash.” And, “No bowl; stick, stick,” still make me laugh to this day, more than 20 years later. The same can be said for at least one of the writers on The Expanse. The Easter egg pops up in Season 5, Episode 2 “The Churn” during Amos’ return to Earth to deal with a ghost from his past. We won’t go into plot details here, but The Simpsons nod brings a moment of laugh-out-loud levity to an otherwise heavy dramatic sequence. It’s hard not to smile as you hear the vendor belt out the said-same lines as his animated counterpart years ago.
It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, which is why we dropped a screengrab here for you to get a closer look. (We had a GIF here for your viewing pleasure but apparently such powerful meme technology is beyond our site’s limits at the moment.):
It doesn’t appear as if Amos stopped by for a stick of Khlav Kalash or a can of crab juice (or Mountain Dew, yuck), but he’s still got some business to attend to. Perhaps there’s still time to pay the friendly Simpsons vendor a visit. But if nothing else, it’s good to know that Khlav Kalash still exists, even in the far-flung future… even if the closed captions call it “crab goulash.”
Plus, Steve Yockey reveals the inspiration behind the show’s eye-catching opening credits.
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