Abstinence and Fasting
by Susu, Runt, Rosie
The Jedi of Corellia, though closely allied with the Jedi who made their homes on Coruscant, had a rather different tradition. Despite their Core World geography, they behaved somewhat like an outpost; that is, they followed the philosophies of the mainline Jedi, but they deviated radically from some of the rules. For instance, they formed attachments of many kinds, including marriage and children; they tended to take their own children as apprentices; they worked in other fields -- being a Jedi was a "skill" to be used in that job. But most of all, they tended not to leave Corellia. It was believed that a Jedi Knight who left his or her sparkling green home would come to a bad end. This definition of "compassion" kept this sect of the Jedi truly separated.
But at intervals, the Jedi of Coruscant and Corellia would declare a "retreat period," where they would practice abstinence and fasting. They would meditate together, and subsist on exactly half the quantity of food they would normally eat. Sometimes, the two groups would simply meditate wherever they were, their concentration enhanced and punctuated by their physical hunger. Often, groups would visit one another and commune together, in the same time and space.
It was generally agreed that the hunger was important, and that senses and minds were sharper and more focussed in such a state. However, eating nothing was not a good idea. Rather than enhancing meditation, it detracted from it. Instead, the Jedi felt that the food eaten should be better than usual, for there would be less of it. It was a good contrast to have a simple but wonderful meal, adjacent to a physical fast.
Done right, of course, though the stomach may be yearning for it's meals, the mind and heart were free to roam ...
Tomato Corn Soup with Optional Crab or Shrimp
This soup tastes rich, and you won't even notice that you are fasting. The only problem the Jedi have is to make sure they keep to their small portions. It's very "more-ish" and you will end up eating too much of it before you know it!
This is a simple bread recipe with a lot of steps, but none of them are difficult. It's a very old-fashioned bread, requiring the formation of a "sponge" to prove the yeast. Perhaps this is a way to reduce the cost of ingredients wasted if the yeast didn't work? Even the Jedi cannot control yeast!
It's called a "hearthbread" because it could actually be cooked over a fire or grill, but it's much nicer baked in the oven. On earth, it's much like focaccia, or Italian flatbread. Feel free to embellish it with cheese, olives, other herbs, etc. Though the Jedi like an austere bread for their fasting days, you don't need to!
Add the olive oil to the dough-sponge and beat well with a spoon. Add the rest of the flour to form a sticky dough. Flour a board or counter and turn the dough out, and knead to form a smooth, elastic dough. Oil a bowl and place the dough ball in it, rolling it around to coat the dough with oil, too. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise till doubled, between one and two hours. (For best rising conditions, place in a warm, draft-free area; it should not be too hot, or the yeast will die.) Punch the dough down and turn out onto a board, then let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Pat out the dough to about half and inch thick (a bit more than a centimeter). Any shape is okay, as long as it fits on your baking sheet, so round or rectangular is fine. Place it on a greased (with olive oil) baking sheet and shove your fingers into the dough to make divots. Brush with olive oil, then sprinkle over with herbs. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for about an hour till puffy and doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 400°F/190°C and bake for about 30 minutes till golden brown. Lift up the loaf, then tap the underside -- it should sound hollow. A dull sound means the loaf has too much water in it, and bake it for another 10 minutes, then check again. When the loaf is done, place on a wire rack to cool and brush with olive oil to keep the top soft. If you prefer it hard and crusty, don't use the extra oil.
To serve, cut into wedges or blocks. Serves at least 8, depending how you cut the bread, and what else you are serving.
Austere Yet Lucious Berry Tart
This tarte is a wonderful way to end the fasting period. There are observed problems with breaking a fast too quickly or with rich foods, thus it's prescribed that after a period of austerity, a non-fatty sweet be served. This tarte may seem too simple to be "dessert," but it's actually a great luxury! You can't walk away from the oven once the tarte is put in there -- if the berries overcook, they will start exuding their juice and you'll just get a runny, soggy tarte. You only need the berries to warm through; by the way, you must serve this tarte immediately! Or, again, it will keep cooking and get all runny ... But it's completely worth it, and won't break your digestion after a fast!
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