But here is my blogfeast Entry for Angela McCalister's feast fest hosted on the Jaded Love Junkie!
So head on over and read about food 'till it makes you ready for the holidays :D
I will try to offer a little context this time :P
The main character of this piece is Tati. She and her best friend ran away from their home village when attackers were sighted. Tati is trying to recruit the assistance of her king. But her people (the Maldians) are ethnic inhabitants of Meis. The attackers have ulterior motives for attacking the innocuous-seeming Maldians (as you can see by the Magic Tati uses, the applications in war are disastrous). Tati left before her 14th birthday (which would've included a feast) and where she would have had to make a decision between "Huntress" (which involved warrior training preserved through centuries) or cook. Clearly, she loves food. Food and meals, in her society, bind everyone. They are ritualized in a way the Meiseons simply don't...unless it is a meal of state. Tati wouldn't attend a meal of state at the moment.
So what's she doing? Found out by the mysterious Aloysia Rijnic, whom Tati knows little about right now, she is awaiting an audience with the Meiseon king. The three girls (Aloysia, Tati and Ahgothi) are staying in a Meiseon Inn. Ahgi and Tati are both experiencing a bit of culture-shock, but Tati reacts differently. Frustrated, lost, surrounded by a language she barely understands, Tati seizes on the fact that the serving girl doesn't know anything about food. She storms into the kitchen, determined to make her own meal. The Innkeeper finds her here, and that's where the excerpt starts:
“What is the meaning of this?!” said a new voice.
I did not look up but continued scrubbing.
“Where is my meal?” asked the new man, “What happened to the food?”
“I dumped it in fire,” I said, “It was no good.” I shook my head over the pot. “Give me what supply you have. I will make great meal here.”
“We do not have anything but the roughest of peasant fare. Birds and some berries, that’s the fanciest we have!” said the cook.
When I merely nodded, the Innkeeper stared and the cook started shouting, “You’re gonna steal my job! I’ve had this for years! You are not going to steal my job, you Carra-spawn!” He launched himself at me, holding the fire-iron. It took nothing to reach for the Green of the iron and yank the poor weapon from his grasp.
“Demon,” he hissed, as he came to a stop.
“I will make meal,” I told him gravely, and turned to the Innkeeper. “I ask no pay, this something I raised to do. I cook as long as I stay, I teach fat-man make meal and he can show me what Meis-food look like when not burnt.” I dumped the last of ash onto the fire. “And, if he pledge treat food with more respect I promise I make new pots and,” I waved at other metal cooking implements. “All I want is place sleep, and make food.”
“You’re not staying?” asked the cook.
“My home north, I not stay.”
The Innkeeper nodded, scowling. “As long as my patrons are fed,” he said, but studied me closely. “This will be strange food you make, girl.”
“I am woman,” I corrected. “I am fourteen.”
There was silence.
The serving girl edged into the kitchen again, watching all apprehensively and shifting from foot to foot as the silence smothered even her urgent words. Finally she did defy the quiet, but with the barest of whispers: “They want their food.”
I nodded. “Bring meat. Bring berries. Bring what other fare you have.”
All three stared at me. I felt their eyes, even as I poured water from a jug into the large pot. When the pot was half-full I turned to them. “I ready. Why stand so still? Need supply to make meal: meat and vegetable, herb and spice. Whatever you have, bring here.” They stared so I crossed my arms and glowered. “Now.”
I sighed and stood at the room’s center to inventory what I had to work with. There weren’t enough pots in this kitchen. There were only two stirring spoons. I needed all the implements of a Maldian meal-garden and would have to rely on my Green, if nothing else.
Green works as an extra sense. I can always feel the veins of metal in the ground below me, around me. I can sense them miles away. I can feel the center of the world melt and roil; Don-Yin’s heart is ever restless. So, when one uses the Green to do more than ‘feel’ one generally ‘pulls’ and ‘pushes.’ You can push so hard that friction and heat is created, and eventually the metal can reshape, just as it does in a forge. That is Green shaping. It was also the first lesson I learned from my older brother. So I did now, pulled and shaped until on the floor I had a vast supply of cooking utensils, bowls and plates and trays.
When the three returned laden with birds tied on strings, drying herbs and cooking wines and ales as well as a basket filled with various vegetables; they stopped in the doorway.
“May need more water,” I said.
The cook nodded, but his eyes were bulging. “I’ll get it.”
The Innkeeper dropped his load of birds and herbs. He stared at me a minute, pushed a hand through dark brown hair, muttered something and then left the kitchen. The serving girl followed quickly at his heels.
Naturally, when she finally serves up the meal and returns to the inn's dining room, she is greeted with applause. It's safe to say she and her friends get to stay for free.