Chapter 18: Food Prep and Battle Prep
Copyright© 2017 by Hunter Johnson
Prior to dinner, Jason went into the kitchen to spend time with Robert to discuss some menu ideas that he had in mind. He found Marie helping him, and he had a fine time enjoying their company. Linda and Andrea had been very busy working with their teams during the day. They had requested to be informed when Jason emerged. They then made their way to his canteen half an hour after he had provided his instructions and requested dishes to the chefs for an elaborate Thai feast.
After Jason left, Robert turned to Marie, “Jason’s extraordinarily dramatic impact on the ship has been stimulating in more ways than one. We have lots of interested eaters. It was a bit dead out there with our crew. I loved our time on Earth and its diverse and delicious food. I don’t know how I managed before chili and garlic.
“I’d have been happy to travel to some other parts of Earth to try other foods. I’ll definitely do it again. It provided us with opportunities that would rarely occur during our lifetime. Very few chefs would ever work with an entirely new cuisine from a planet that has not been influenced by the Empire. There were so many unique flavors and different food types from Earth. I’m surprised at how many different chili and curry flavors we have enjoyed! There are so many more foods to try next time and weird cooking methods. I can’t believe we are even using slow cooking methods. That slow cooked beef cheek was unbelievable last week.”
“Jason has a love of life and he’s so enthusiastic about our efforts. I really want to cook for him. I’ll take what I can get in bed, as well. It’s so strange how he’s a way about him that encourages both of us to cook special foods. Jason is happy to discuss at considerable detail a menu and what to serve to his guests. He often tests what he suggests and cooks it himself for us. I like having him chatting in the kitchen and found it amusing that he spent half an hour pounding the chilies for tonight. He says our machines don’t give the same result. That’s so weird. I’ve never experienced anyone in royalty who had such an interest in food. Most people who direct us are jaded and uninterested. They want something to impress but don’t know what,” said Marie.
“I have experienced so many people who demanded unachievable outcomes without the slightest concept of the needs of the guests, the food available and the choices that we could provide,” said Robert disgustedly. “He’s also such a decent guy, and without pretensions. He has a wicked sense of humor. Lauren was also really funny once we got to know her. She reminds me of the Empress, she has a real bite behind the charm.
“She said she had a fruit for me to taste, but I had to agree to eat it. I thought what the hell what do I’ve to lose. Well, it smelled like something disgusting. I put it down and tried to hide it. She said I agreed to eat it. I ate it thinking it was a nasty trick, but it was delicious! I brought along some of the disgusting smelling cheeses she found for me, for practical jokes. I’ve a few thousand of those bad smelling Jackfruit in stasis, too.”
Jason was interested in Robert and his assistant executive chef, Marie (who was a formidable chef herself) and her staff, the recipes she chose, and the food preferences of his prospective guests. He had a significant interest in wine, various microbrewery beers he had stored, and the ingredients including a vast variety of herbs and spices.
Robert came to understand that Jason had the same passion for his IT and for his increasing involvement in military strategy, as well as his devoted adherence to martial arts. He was in so many ways a formidable man. Robert also knew that Marie was secretly in love with Jason. The fact that he was also the father of her child accorded him a level of loyalty that she had not accorded to any other human being including her parents. Jason, for her, was the epitome of ‘hero.’ He was a man who paid her attention, and provided her with a passion for the future. There’s no doubt that she would have sacrificed herself for him many times over.
To prepare an extravagant Thai meal of considerable complexity was for Robert a joy and a privilege. He was many thousands of years older than Jason, and saw him as a son, a future devoted father to many, but intrinsically a decent human being who had done so much for people on the ship. Now Jason was doing the same for the clones. There was nothing that provided Robert and his assistant with more joy than making his guests appreciate Jason and his background. It was the smallest thing that they could do. Robert was very proud of Jason and thought that he would have a great future.
All of the kitchen staff enjoyed every minute that they spent together creating a feast of tastes and smells the likes of which his guests had never experienced. They picked every ingredient so it was fresh that day.
Food preparation had advanced enormously over the years. The techniques were those of a mature society that had investigated every method of cooking and preparation that was known and could still learn and evaluate new ways of doing things. They could bring out tastes that the chefs of the past would struggle to accomplish. They could create a presentation of each dish that would delight the eye and stimulate the palate; because they had the knowledge and technology to enhance every aspect of the food that could be done.
Jason related to each and every one of them as if they were his family or close friends. They felt that they owed him their loyalty. He had treated all of them with profound respect and admiration from the earliest encounters that he had had with them on his entry to the ship. They didn’t regard him in any way as a primitive. They saw him as an evolved, caring, and passionate human being who enjoyed life and love, and was enormously supportive of the people with whom he worked.
They could work within time constraints that most restaurants could never deliver. Food could be heated, cooled, removed from stasis, chopped, stirred, combined with other ingredients, fried, boiled, and grilled at a speed that could never be achieved with Earth technology. The kitchen AI was familiar with every recipe that Jason loved and could assist in its production at a speed that would be much envied in Perth, London, Bangkok, or even in New York City. Food preparation was done by kitchen drones at high speed under supervision of the kitchen AI who was a very friendly AI and also devoted to Jason.
The kitchen could easily produce a feast for thousands within hours. Less complicated meals could be produced within fifteen to twenty minutes. Meals were advertised through the interfaces for all the relevant senior personnel who were invited to Jason’s canteen. Robert gave them plenty of time to get there being aware that they were involved with tasks of some magnitude. Officers and crew did everything they could to attend a Jason extravaganza.
Working with the kitchen crew gave Jason enormous pleasure. He enjoyed the discussion with the chefs and kitchen staff, who by this time were intimately aware of not only his variety of foods; but also, all his wines, beers, sparkling wines as well as his broad selection of brandies, whiskeys, gins, vodkas, and liqueurs.
Jason made himself comfortable at the table with Linda on his right and Andrea on his left. Karen DuPree sat down next to Linda. Malone and Harris sat opposite him and were, as usual, grinning. Some of the clone senior staff joined them. At nearby tables sat a mixture of ship and clone origin officers. Jason welcomed them all to one of his favorite cuisines from Earth. Wines and beers were provided at each table. He explained the origin of both brewing methods on his planet, noting that both methods of brewing were available in different parts of the Empire. Jason with Robert’s help and Lauren’s extensive seemingly unlimited supplies, had established a microbrewery for beer on the ship, and his beer had been enormously popular with the ship’s crew. He had a vast supply of wines that would be unlikely to run out for the next century. The horticulture group were successfully growing grapes and following guidelines from Lauren were producing wine in both stainless-steel containers as well as a few thousand oak barrels that she and Robert acquired.
The technologies of brewing beers and wines were well-known in the Imperium. Each planet produced very different equivalents of grapes, grains, flavoring herbs and substances like hops. Jason knew that most of the intellectual resources available to the horticulturalists was being devoted to his activities, not because it was required; but because it was something new and stimulating, and they saw an opportunity to make their mark on the huge Empire. They hoped that Jason would return to take possession of his estates. Many had dreams of continuing to work for Jason and to make future business efforts a success in an Empire that was dedicated to excellence in many areas, but where food and drink had been neglected due to replicator usage. The Empire had become lazy with food as the replicator technology offered so much convenience.
At dinner Jason was in fine form, and waxed lyrically about each wine. He explained each to the entire canteen as well as offering an explanation and a description of the taste of each ale and beer. With considerable pleasure, he went into a brief description of Thai culture, the climate of Thailand, the chili’s and the huge emphasis on fresh food. He encouraged people to sample bits of each course, and to taste all the foods.