Part of Starbase Bravo: Q3 2400

Hypothetical Comfort Food part 3

Starbase Bravo: Sector Lima-Violet, Deck 640 Refugee Centre
June 2400
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Dechraib shifted between the small stove where he was cooking something the humans called Tomato soup, something he had to admit he really liked, and a small PADD on the tabletop beside him. Picking up the PADD he reviewed the list of ingredients he pulled together to make something that resembled stewed Hlai’vnau from the Rel’enak region. He frowned as he looked over it. There were so many things that had been lost when Romulus was destroyed that they could never get back but this random task from the Starfleet counsellor had focused his mind to a degree he had not expected. The thought of being able to bring back such a traditional dish from a region that many Romulans missed deeply was a true pleasure. 

“Some of these are easy to find, Sweet Peppers from Earth should be an easy substitute,” he muttered to himself. Their Romulan equivalent should be common enough on any number of planets but not on the Bravo it seemed, well not until the seeds he planted grew. As he reviewed the list he lingered over the Hlai; “That will be the tricky one…” He had tried the Vulcan fowl that a restaurant on the station used for a similar dish and he had to admit it was good but the texture was off. “Maybe that Trill sabre beast?” he said aloud as he reached down and touched the communication setting and began to record a message on the PADD.

“Counsellor Weld? This is Dechraib. I think I have a list of ingredients. Do you want to meet?” Dechraib said and hit send.

 


 

At the appointed time, in between a couple of patient appointments, Elegy Weld strode into the makeshift kitchen.  The aroma of a tomato soup still lingered in the air.  “Jolan tru, Dechraib,” Elegy said, as he locked eyes with the Romulan chef.  “How’re you holding up today?” Elegy asked.  His words acknowledged the displaced refugee’s situation, but his tone was entirely hopeful.

“As best as can be Counsellor, thank you for asking,” Dechraib said with a nod. “I have the list of ingredients and most are readily available but there are a few, the obvious ones are the Hlai, the Romulan peppers, and several spices. I have ideas for a few of the replacements but if I had a Starfleet Counsellor with me I am sure I could sort them a lot easier. Shall I meet you at your office and we can discuss it?”

Nodding heavily, Elegy replied, “Yes, of course.  I’m excited to discuss it more, Dechraib.”  Elegy palmed the slim PADD from a holster on his hip and he swiped his fingers across the display.  Navigating the LCARS with a few taps, Elegy accessed the location of his office and the directions to get there.  Upon proffering the PADD to Dechraib, Elegy said, “This is where you’ll find me.”

Dechraih smiled as the directions appeared on the screen. “Thank you Counsellor Weld, I will be along shortly.” He said before terminating the call. He grabbed his satchel and a couple of things he might need and set off. He had to admit he was excited about recreating a dish for the first time in a while.

 


 

As Elegy took his first steps back towards the corridor, he lightly tapped his combadge.  “Weld to Oin’sun,” he said to open a comm channel with Cynndle.

Cynndle was just stretching after standing up from his console. He had spent too many hours sitting down during his shift. He was relieved to have his shift end and was about to turn to leave when his commbadge chimed, and Elegy’s voice came over it.  “Go for Oin’sun, I take it we have a list from Dechraih?”

Once he was in the relative privacy of the corridor, Elegy sighed heavily.  Almost immediately, he covered his mouth and hoped the sigh hadn’t been captured by his combadge.  “Not quite yet,” Elegy replied.  “His patrons come first and rightly so.  Dechiraib said he would meet me in my office shortly, if you’re free to join.  I figure you need this win as much as I do, just about now.”

“I can meet you there in 15, my shift just ended.” With that, he turned and left the auxiliary operations stations and headed to Elegy’s office.

 


 

“Come in,” Elegy said.  Waiting alone in his office, Elegy’s impatience was visibly palpable.  He was pacing from bulkhead to bulkhead, but he stopped and he took a deep breath as soon as he heard the door chime.  Elegy smoothed out his uniform jacket and turned to regard the opening doorway.

Cynndle turned just as the door opened and he faced Elegy. “Hey, how are things?” Cynndle said but before Elegy could answer a voice called out “Lieutenant,” and Dechiraib came down the corridor. 

Dechiraib approached the door and stopped beside Cynndle who gave him a quick nod. He pulled out his PADD and gestured to it, “I think I know what is needed, though the protein will be a trick. I think the two of you can get it your access.”

“Oh?” Elegy asked, elongating the vowel.  Between his smirk and a raised eyebrow, it was obvious his interest was piqued.  Elegy clapped his hands together.  Tongue in cheek, he asked, “Exactly what vault would you have us break into?”

Dehiraib smiled, “I believe the humans call it Fort Knox?” he said with a pause then laughed. “Nothing like that, basically a few of the restaurants might have something that could work. Trill Sabre Beast, ideally spear hunted for example. There is an Andorian Ice dragon, a small hairy lizard thing that is meant to taste similar.” His face grew a bit of a frown. “I am pretty sure minced and reformed gagh could work if spiced a lot but I really don’t like cooking with it not the mention any Klingon would likely take offence to what I would do it…”

Elegy opened his mouth and closed it again.  He furrowed his brow, in consideration of the options, and he rubbed his hands together.  “Minced gagh sounds like we’re veering too far afield from the original request,” Elegy remarked.  “Sabre beast or ice dragon should be manageable, I imagine.  What do you think, lieutenant?” Elegy asked, looking at Cynndle.

Cynndle paused for a moment and thought about it, “We should be able to get sabre beast or ice dragon pretty easily. Between the restaurants, it shouldn’t be an issue. I have even heard that there is a proper butcher that opened up recently.”

Dehiraib nodded, glad to hear that, “As for the gagh, it could work but wouldn’t be the first. So where to now?”

Cynndle looked back at Elegy and shrugged, “I guess the butcher would be the most logical place to start but not sure if it would have these sorts of things. I know I have had grilled sabre beast at one of the restaurants on the promenade. We could start there also.”

Absolutely, the butcher is where we begin,” Elegy agreed.  “Beyond the meat, do you really think you have the right recipe, Dehiraib?  The one my… hypothetical patient was talking about?”

Dehiraib turned and looked at Elegy, “I have made this before and it will be as close to what you had described to me as possible given that some of the ingredients likely no longer exist. I believe your hypothetical patient will like it. ” With that, he smiled, “The butcher’s is a solid place. Lieutenant Oin’sun and Weld please lead the way.”

“Pleased to do so,” Elegy said.  There was more than a little skip to his step as he lead the way into the corridor.  As much as this mission veered beyond the bounds of his role as a counselor, there was a certain satisfaction in being able to replicate that feeling of home for someone who had lost everything.

A little while later they stepped out onto deck 335 into one of the commercial districts which were closely linked to the main promenade. “I believe the butcher’s shop is one section over.”

Leaving the turbolift behind, Elegy regarded Dehiraib to ask, “Forgive me for being nosy, but at what point did you decide to make food the spindle of your life?”

Cynnndle cocked his head to better hear Dehiraib’s response as he began to speak. “Hmm. Honestly, I haven’t thought about that in a long time. I don’t think there was anything else for me really. I grew up cooking with my mother and grandmother and after I served in the navy I didn’t really think about it. I started working at restaurants and opened my own a few years later.” 

Dehiraib continued to walk as he spoke, “There is just something about preparing food that people will enjoy. Though restaurants can be stressful the process of cooking I find relaxing.” A moment later they stepped into a large gallery and directly across from them stood a butcher shop. At its front was a large refrigerated display cabinet with various cuts of meat from animals from a dozen worlds. “Should be able to get what is needed here.”

Nodding at Dehiraib’s thoughtful words, Elegy followed him into the butcher shop.  “That sounds like a worthy way to spend a lifetime,” he said.  “Following your passions wherever they take you; finding calm in what you do.”

“Well put,” Dehiraib said, “Now, let’s see about getting what we need.” He walked across the gallery and into the butcher shop without waiting for a response. Upon entering he was greeted by an elderly Andorian man, “Welcome, what can I get for you?”

Dehiraib pursed his lips as he looked down at the selection of meats before him. “Too much to hope that you have Hlai?”

The Andorian shook his head, “Sadly no, not since the unfortunate destruction of Romulus. Though I have heard that some breeders had some off-planet so it is out there but virtually impossible to find outside Romulan space.”

Dehiraib sighed, “Yeah, figured I would ask. How about Trill Sabre beast or Andorian Ice Dragon?”

The butcher nodded, “I have those, actually some arrived yesterday on my regular shipment. Any specific cut in mind?”

“The tenderloin of each would be best I think, a half kilo of each,” Dehiraib said as he turned to Cynndle and Elegy. “Once I have this I think I can get the peppers and spices from hydroponics.”

“Thank you again,” Elegy earnestly said.  He looked over at the refrigerated meat case in curiosity.  “This will mean so much for my hypothetical patient.”

The Andorian returned a few moments later with two packages wrapped in brown paper. “I hope these are to your liking, that will be 3 strips and 2 slips of latinum.” Dehiraib turned to look at Elegy, “I trust you can cover this? I am a refugee after all.”

Elegy promptly palmed his PADD and activated the holographic interface.  He tapped through the menu options to get to the banking service.  With a few more swipes a second holographic display appeared within the Andorian butcher’s grasp.  Elegy smiled sheepishly and shared an askew glance with Dehiraib.

“I hope that was a fair price,” Elegy said if tongue in cheek.  “I can’t profess to understand economics, but Starfleet has accounts for these types of interactions.”

Dehiraib shrugged and chuckled a little “As far as one can expect for fresh meat from various planets light years away on a space station near none of the planets.” He looked at Elegy’s face and added, “Yes it is a very good price actually, I would not have gotten it otherwise.” 

He turned to the Andorian and nodded, “Thank you. Once I get my feet back under me, if I remain on the station, I will be back. It is always rare to find such a good selection of meat and cuts.” To which the Andorian just smiled and returned to wiping the counter.

“I can head to hydroponics myself and get the remaining ingredients. I should have this ready for you in a few hours. Or would you like me to wait, say tomorrow?” Dehiraib asked.

Cynndle shrugged as he looked around the shop making a mental note to come back himself and pick up a few things. “That is up to Elegy, though I wouldn’t mind trying this dish when it is ready Dehiraib.”

“Let’s say tomorrow,” Elegy suggested.  “I’d like to prepare my patient.”

“Tomorrow then, best to have this in the afternoon,” Dehiraib stated.


After spending most of the following day prepping the dish Dehiraib was finally happy with what he had created. The two dishes in front of him tasted as close as he could reasonably expect for stewed Hlai’vnau. He had to admit the sabre beast was incredibly tender but the ice dragon’s flavour was slightly stronger. He packed up the dishes and headed towards Elegy’s office. 

Not long later he stood outside the door and pressed the buzzer. 

Waiting for him inside the office were nearly a dozen Romulans gathered with empty stomachs and big spoons.  As much as Elegy wanted to provide the satisfaction of Dehiraib’s old family delicacy to his grieving patient, he also had to protect her confidentiality.  With her permission, she had brought new friends and family she had made among the other Romulan refugees on the station.  It wouldn’t be long now before the Romulan transport ships took them away from Starbase Bravo.  Elegy stepped back from the group, giving them the first chance to enjoy the meal that had been lovingly prepared for them.

Dehiraib smiled as he entered the room when he saw so many other Romulans. Turning to Elegy he laughed, “Good thing I made far more than I thought was needed.” He then turned to the other Romulans, “I hope this does justice for a dish I know so many of you grew up with and love. Stewed Hlai’vnau can be done so many ways but I believe this is very close.” He unpacked the two large pots he had lugged up to Elegy’s office, setting them on the table. A few minutes later he was ready to dish them up. Grabbing the first partitioned bowl he ladled each of the stews before handing it to the first Romulan. “I hope you enjoy, the sabre beast is incredibly tender but the ice dragon’s flavour has a slightly stronger flavour. If you like you could also mix them together.”

Within moments the room was silent as everyone was happily eating the improvised stewed Hlai’vnau. Dehiraib happily watched each of them as they ate, silently impressed that he had been able to make the dish. Now that he had he was confident he could do it again and had already programmed it into the star bases replicators.