After the pots and pans for Nell materialize, I take out the kitchenware and put the little pouch in the replicator.
“Please analyze this stuff, Mittens.”
Several seconds pass.
“The powder is identified as compound C-24F-51.”
“C-24F-51? So it’s synthetic?”
Compound codes are centuries old, but there’s an old rumour codes shorter than 6 digits are guaranteed to be synthetic. People used to be superstitious about synthetic compounds and flocked to “natural” goods. Granted, with the developing technology of that time, any effects on the body would have to be observed with their long term effects on the body and the environment. Adding the placebo effect to it, and you’re guaranteed to have fuzzy results. So to make people worry less, people have stared giving all material compound numbers, starting with regular water, compound C-1E34-12. Or dihydrogenmonooxide as it’s called in its listing.
“It occurs naturally. But it is commonly synthetically produced. On Earth, it is used to treat narcolepsy, but unsavoury people might use it to incapacitate people.”
“That doesn’t sound like the effects that Rowan experienced.”
“I assume Amaugans react differently to the compound or the disinhibiting effect of the drug led to those effects. Or both.”
“I’m not planning on using it. Please dispose of it.”
The pouch and its content disintegrate. I believe Nell wanted to make something special with the boar meat. A third of the meat should be fine. I take the kitchenware for Nell and the boar meat and go back to the kitchen.
“I’ve brought the pots and pans,” I say as I’m entering the kitchen, “also I brought some of the boar meat. Rowan tells me you’re eager to make something different with it, something that takes more time to prepare.”
“Thanks,” Nell answers, “Rowan is right. I should thank you for letting me do that. It just occurred to me, I haven’t asked you for about it.
Before we start, we should make some plans for the next days. So how about tomorrow I bring some minced meat, so we try recreating that ‘Hamburger’ of yours? You can still try making this fried meat later.”
“That sounds like a plan.”
“Now, let’s marinate this boar meat!”
Nell cuts more Hau Onions and puts them into a pot. He hands me several jars to put into the pot. Even though he’s seizing the opportunity, he doesn’t forget he wants to teach me about cooking. I open the jars in turn, taste the contents and add salt, honey and some dried herbs inside them to the pot. I can’t tell what the herbs are. Their taste is very hard to explain.
“The herbs don’t add much taste,” Nell explains, “but they help with improving the taste of boar meat.”
So those herbs add umami flavour?
“For some kinds of meat you also need to add ingredients to deal with the bad taste that type of meat has.”
Nell observes me and directs me how much of the ingredients we use. The last ingredient we are yellow berries. They taste like lemons: very sour and yet refreshing. Nell stirs the mixture and puts it on the stove. As it begins sizzling he adds a cup of mead to the pot, stirs it again, and adds in some water.
“I don’t know how it works, but by putting meat to the mixture at this stage, you enhance the effect of the ingredients.”
Most flavour molecules are lipophilic. Alcohol can extract those from herbs and other ingredients, forcing these molecules into solution in water. As much as I want to tell him, I fear it will be too much to explain.
After waiting until it boils, he lets the broth shimmer for a few minutes and takes if off the stove.
“Now we wait for the broth to cool down, then we can let the meat soak in the cold for a day or two.”
We put the broth in multiple pots to help it cool down faster. After about half an hour, the broth has cooled enough to put the meat into it. Nell and Rowan help me carry the pots with the meat to the fridge in the shuttle.
“I can’t wait to try it,” Rowan says.
“Same with me, but it should soak at least a day,” Nell answers.
“Given we’re cooling it, it should soak for two days,” I add, “processes take longer if it’s cold.”
“I thought you didn’t know much about cooking,” Rowan says.
“That was just basic physics,” I answer
“Physics? What’s that?”
“That’s the knowledge about the laws of nature.”
“So the details of how to build an ice house…”
“Yes, it’s based on that as well.”
“You really sound like a noble when you say that,” Nell says, “but you still treat us equals.”
“Nobility is a concept my people have discarded. Is that going to be a problem?”
“No, it should be fine as long you’re not rude,” Nell answers.
“That’s good to hear.”
“Since we’re done for today, what are your plans for the evening?”
“I’m still exhausted, so I’m going to bed again.”
“I’m not sure about going to the pub…” Rowan answers.
“Speaking of that, what did you do with Nobu’s gift, Aster?” Nell asks.
“I analyzed it in the shuttle and have… erm… found use for it in the shuttle, all of it.”
It might be bad if I say I destroyed it, it was a gift after all, “I don’t have any intention of using that on Rowan, at least not without his consent.”
I turn to Rowan, “so if you really want it, the shuttle can make you some.”
“It’s better if you don’t use it,” Nell states, “it’s got its merits, sure, but it can also be addictive. And once that happens, you might as well work in a brothel for the rest of your life.”
Both Rowans and I gulp. As expected, that stuff is dangerous.