Fateful Deliberations at Dex's Diner
by Susu, Wraith6, Rosie
But when you are Force-sensitive and exude the Force, it's hard to discuss anything in secret. And yet, some secrets needed to be kept, and fates of certain Jedi handled with great compassion and understanding -- most notably, Padawans who would not be continuing their training at the Temple.
It was usually very clear which Padawans would not become Apprentices. A harder question to answer is what to do with them? What would become of them? They had not lead normal lives -- they had nowhere to go and had spent their lives training to be Jedi. They needed to be eased back into normal society. In some cases, these Padawans could work at the Temple in some capacity. But who and how were delicate questions they needed to discuss and be absolutely clear about before calling those boys and girls before them.
For these discussions, council members drew straws. It was an onerous job, and no one relished the job. Understanding the importance of the decisions, Yoda and Mace Windu were always on this subcommittee; as the heads of the Jedi Council, the fate of all Jedi rested with them. This time around, Plo Koon and Ki Adi Mundi drew the short straws.
But where to have these discussions? Ysalamiri were not used to create a "un-Force bubble" (and they made most Jedi feel ill), but they needed a similar effect. But no fear, Mace Windu discovered the best place for secret discussions was out in the open -- at crowded, noisy, smoky Dexter Jettster's Diner. And the food was good and reliable, with more variety than available at the Temple. The senior Jedi considered it adequate compensation for the terrible task at hand.
Just as well the Padawans don't know about the venue. Imagine how they'd feel, knowing their fates may lie in the quality of the diner offerings!
Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs, No Compromises Needed
Mace Windu loved spaghetti and meatballs in a thin, flavorful sauce. But most diners added too much "filler" to the meatballs, and they were hard, shrunken stones. What worse, there would often be a big pile of spaghetti, a splash of too sweet, too thick canned tomato sauce and one or two bloated, bready meatballs. He ate it because he loved the idea of this homey dish, loved the textures and strands, but he dearly wished it could taste better! Can't someone find a way to combine the concept with flavor, without one compromising the other? To the rescue came Dexster, who had a famous sauce that he dumped into and onto everything, and it made everything taste good -- but he didn't use it on this dish. He said the meatballs were good enough on their own, and the secret is to use two different types of ground meat -- one for flavor, the other for texture. Windu always ordered this dish, and Dexster personally stacked his plate high with the big, cheese-stuffed meatballs for him. The cheese didn't ooze, but rather stretched, and the meatballs were so huge they could almost pass as a sort of rich, lucious, inverted cheeseburger if placed between two halves of a bun. He liked to use the meatballs as a metaphor for his decisions -- look at it from all points of view, be flexible, be generous, compromise -- if necessary -- and most of all, be good!
Pot Roast for the Gravy
Ki-Adi Mundi is of a species which births sons only one time out of twenty, and thus any male is obligated to maintain harems and to keep his women impregnated. Boys were valued, and the women who bore them were given higher status within the harem. The lower order women and servants would do the cleaning and cooking, but with so many children to look after, there was often little time for too many niceties. Thus when he was on Coruscant away from his large family, Ki-Adi enjoyed meals that looked like they took a lot of effort, even if they turned out to be stodgy.
None of his wives nor his father's wives made particularly good gravy, so he was amazed at the meaty sauce Dexster served up with a well-cooked slab of meat. Dex was happy to give him extra gravy, and laughed as he watched Yoda snitch the meat bits off Ki's plate. Ki-Adi never seemed to notice; even when Yoda was not there to claim his share, the Cerean Jedi often would leave the meat behind anyway, so much did Ki enjoy the gravy on it's own! Taking his cue from Mace Windu, he told the others that he should look beyond the obvious when evaluating Jedi, a delicious philosophy.
Pressed Chicken Loaf with Potential
Plo Koon's eyes and respiratory organs were adapted to a planet with low oxygen content, thus while on Coruscant, he was forced to wear a protective mask to prevent damage to the delicate tissues. To eat, he either had to sit in a low-oxygen chamber, or ingest liquids or soft solids that could fit through the feeding tube leading into his mask. Thus, he was often restricted to soups while on forays to places like Dex's Diner. But knowing Plo's limitations, Dex suggested this dish -- it's a "pressed loaf" made from chicken long-cooked in a broth so that it falls apart into small pieces, and even after it's formed (it's served cold), and it can be cut easily. Dex made sure the meat was chopped finely enough so it would fit through the feed tubes, but that it didn't feel or taste like baby-food style pabulum. Dexter also made sure to alter the spices a bit for Plo Koon's liking, which delighted the Jedi Master no end. (The dish can be bland, but truth to tell, if it's on the menu, you can't get it out of your mind, or your feed tubes!) From these efforts, Plo told the others that he will discern the unexpected, the potential, and the creativity of each Padawan under consideration and match those not destined for Knighthood for an appropriately creative future.
Remove the chicken, then pick off the meat. Discard the skin and bones. Finely chop the meat; use a food processor if you prefer. The result is a paste. Combine the meat with 1½ cups of strained, degreased broth, the crackers, and season to taste with salt and pepper. If you'd like, also add grated nutmeg, cumin, and/or hot sauce to taste.
Oil a loaf pan and firmly pack in the chicken. Cover and refrigerate till set -- this can take overnight. To serve, invert the loaf and cut into thick slices. If you wish, make into sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread. Serves 8.
Galaxy Black Bean Salsa with Cumin Vinaigrette
Yoda, honoring the Buddhist-style concept that all life is critical and blessed by the Force, usually ordered something vegetarian and a bit different. Dexter, anticipating the Grand Master's arrival, looked for interesting fare and found one at a space trader's convention (of all places)! It was a barbeque event, and the offerings had been pedestrian and normal, except for this "salsa" -- a combination of a bean salad and a chunky sauce. He brought it out to Yoda to sample, and the diminuitive creature poked at the purply black beans and told Ki-Adi Mundi, the youngest of them, to try it first. Putting a scant spoonful into this mouth, the Cerean's eyebrows went up and his eyes brightened; even before he could reach for a second spoonful, everyone else was digging in. Silence is said to be the greatest indication that the food is good! Yoda also appreciated the obvious philosophical significance -- the mix of all species, all seasoning and affecting each other to make a tasty whole -- that is the core of the Temple's teachings. When they decide which students would not be allowed to cross into the next step toward Knighthood, it will be done with insight and compassion, and for the benefit of the Galaxy.
Lemon Meringue Pie with Hidden Answers
Their meals done, and most of the decisions made, the Masters were surprised to receive slices of this pie -- on the house. It was an appropriate philosophical finish to their meeting: as bitter and sour as the decision could be, it needn't be a bad thing for the Padawans. With the right words, motivations and new opportunities, their lives could still be sweet and rich. Even so, it would be a blow to the young men and women, human and alien, who had to hear the words from the Council. Plo Koon lead the prayer, hoping that their choices -- like the meringue -- would be mitigated by creativity, sweetness and insight, even if the right answer was hidden from them.
In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cornstarch, then whisk in the water till the mixture is smooth, without lumps. Beat the egg yolks, then whisk into the water mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil over low to medium heat for a minute. Turn off the flame, and stir in the lemon zest, juice and butter.
Place the pie in the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes till it's golden brown -- it won't necessarily brown evenly. When done, cool on a wire rack and chill till ready to serve.
Makes 8 slices.
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