The House Special

The House SpecialImagine yourself entering a special restaurant. It is your first time here. You are handed a curious menu with a list of thousands of different ingredients. Many of the ingredients are very common, but some you are completely unfamiliar with. The waiter asks you to choose a list of ingredients and the master chef will use them all to make a special dish. You carefully pick out the ones that sound the most delicious and familiar to you. Since this is a special place, you don’t want a dish you can get at any other restaurant.

As you are sitting there salivating, the master chef comes out and tells you your list of ingredients won’t work. The tastes and textures won’t mesh well and you will likely be unsatisfied with the resulting meal. He says this based on years of experience and training. You tell him you know what you are doing, and later that night, after a disappointing few bites you leave the restaurant, vowing never to return. Your conclusion, the chef is awful and the restaurant will soon close. Yet, maybe it was your ignorance that caused the lackluster meal.

Now let’s go back to the start again. This time you notice some language on the menu, “House Special.” You ask the waiter for that. This basically means you are at the mercy of the chef to make you something that is delicious. With over 20 years of cooking experience, you hope he will deliver. The waiter returns with some questions about general preferences; meat or no meat, spicy or not, and whether you have any allergies. You can finish the story. Sometimes you can score a masterpiece, but sometimes you get something not to your liking.

We are in SE’s restaurant, waiting for our “House Special.” Our chef knows the general preferences of the meal based on our reactions and feedback regarding FFXI. We have been promised certain ingredients (flexible class system) and a lack of others (pvp focus). Many of us have been in this restaurant before, and it is unlikely the flavor will drastically change. There are certain ingredients that our chef prefers, and we know those will be consistent.

What we need to realize is that in this restaurant, the chef is the one with the grand plan for the meal. Many, including myself, may want to go back in the kitchen and tell the master chef to add more potatoes, or to make it a white sauce instead of red, or to add some chocolate, because chocolate is great. We can’t see the full picture though, and even the chef doesn’t know exactly how it will turn out. The base meal has been made, and the chef realizes it has so much potential, but it needs some fine tuning.

Now some are given the unique opportunity to dip their spoon in the sauce and give their initial reaction to the flavor. The chef may ask if it needs more salt, or a little more moisture, or if the texture is too soft or hard, but nothing major. This time around someone brought a spoon back to the main hall and showed us all what the meal will look like, but most of us still haven’t tasted anything which makes it harder. In the not to distant future, though, I am sure we will all get that chance. We just have to be patient and help when we are asked.

Ultimately we will decide whether the meal is palatable or not. Not everyone shares the same taste, and this restaurant, even with this chef’s credentials, won’t offer the best meal for everyone. Thankfully there are many restaurants, adapted to an innumerable variety of tastes. If one has enough money they can even open their own. All in all, the ingredients used are basically the same, it is just how it is prepared and served.

As for me though, I have been completely satisfied with SE’s buffet in the past and can’t wait to bite into this one.