Challenge #02368-F178: Culinary Explorers
An inter-species cooking class is very interesting to observe, and better to participate in. -- Anon Guest
Some people just never learn to cook. Why would they? Obtaining foodstuffs from vendors is easy and they then have more time to spend on other enjoyable pursuits. There are those who insist that cooking is a vital survival skill, and they are repeatedly ignored by those who plan on never having to survive like that. It is far cheaper, faster, and overall safer to have a food printer and never be concerned with all that fiddling about.
On the Edge, food printers are less available. People don't trust them as easily as they do in more 'civilised' space. So it is there that cooking classes are held for any level of understanding from 'What is cook?' through, 'I think I've got this!' to, 'Oh hey, there's a new ingredient, now what?' There, on the Edge, it is possible to learn the organic sources of all foods, learn how to prepare them, and learn how to do so safely.
Nevertheless, it has been determined that allowing anyone near open flames is an invitation for disaster. The Havenworlders don't like it when things go 'foomp' and the Humans like it uncomfortably too much. That sort of thing is reserved for restaurants run by trained professionals, that also have offensensitivity warnings clearly present on the entrances. Yes, even in the Edge territories, the lawless have figured out that some laws are just common flakking sense.
It is to one of these classes, the experimental cookery zone, that Hwell Barrow was bringing one of his latest finds. A lumpy fruit from a distant soil that scanned as edible, but it certainly wasn't tasty. If anyone could improve it for marketing, it was the Gyiiks who had a reputation for cooking anything, anywhere, anyhow. Food, at least for this particular portion of the Gyiikish peoples, was something of a religious experience. As it turned out, it could be a religious experience for those eating it as well.
The Master Chefs took a fruit each out of Hwell's stasis box, contemplating the whole thing in one hand as one of the remaining three dallied over their numerous tools. Another one picked up a hand-scanner and took a reading. The fruit had already passed customs and decontamination, but it never hurt anyone to be cautious.
Hwell watched in fascination as one Master Chef carefully dissected the fruit she had. Peel, pith, seed, and the surrounding flesh, all into separate portions. Each scanned separately. Each sampled for taste in long minutes, with palate cleansing in between. It was the air of concentration that fascinated. The meditative way that each part was tried and tested by different chemical processes. Frying, baking, sous vide... not a potential step was overlooked. Even dousing with ascetic acid. All were tested, and tasted. Some portions were set aside in various pickling brines, which would take some time to mature.
Smoke, interestingly, was the key. This particular fruit wasn't sweet, which most tongues accepted as the standard for fruiting plants. Instead, the flesh was savoury, with a bitter aftertaste that many would initially reject for being 'un-fruity'. However, with smokers working on both pith and flesh, and a dusting of zest, it became... differently tasty.
Hwell took the free sample that had passed the Master's personal approval, and reverentially tried a bite.
It was more than delicious. It was transformative. It was... "Oh sweet Powers that be," he breathed.
The Master smiled in acknowledgement of her skill. Her work was truly done.
 Those living within the Galactic Alliance believe that they are civilised because their food can be made to exacting standards whilst those on the Edges are barbarians who have to harvest directly from the source. Interestingly enough, Edge people believe they are the civilised ones for exactly the same reason.
 Unless, of course, you're an Anti-Lucker who frequently does cause harm to themselves and others by being cautious. Fortunately for the rest of society, these individuals are kept in far safer facilities as research continues to dampen their -ah- 'talents'.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / smuay]
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