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27 December 2017 @ 09:31 am
_Cooking Hot_ part 3  

I'd like to give an all-the-way vegan sauce a try. Surely there's a grocery in building two.


There were two groceries. One standard, one advertising "Real Food."

Ebsa stepped inside. Always hard to tell what people consider "real food." But the produce section was well stocked, and the meat department . . . a few nice steaks and fresh looking fish . . . "Emu?"

"It's very tasty." the butcher sounded exasperated. "People just won't try it. I have a hundred kilos back in the freezer. One only knows what I'm going to do with it all!"

"That's interesting." Ebsa eyed the meat on display. "And about five kilos defrosted? I'll take it all and experiment."

He added some fresh fruit and veggies, found almond milk, and headed back to building three.


"There you are!"

Ebsa looked around the crowded dinning room, but the comment wasn't aimed at him.

A middle age woman, looking cross. Trailing three sullen teenagers. Taking aim at Dr. Coffee—Ocfe Withione, one of the Archeologists he'd been marooned with.

Speaking too loudly. "I know I said I'd be your backup, but I really didn't expect any of them let alone all three to be expelled from that over priced boarding school! Honestly Coffee! It's high time you put some time and effort into your own children!"

All at a high volume.

"Expelled?" Coffee bent his gaze on the teenagers.

"You wouldn't even talk to us." The oldest by glowered.

"I was marooned for nearly six months. I've only been back for four days."

The youngest, a pudgy girl, stuck her lower lip out. "And you didn't bother to call us."

"I, uh . . . " Coffee trailed off. "I told you I would be Across, and might not have good comm connections. I . . . assumed everything was going all right. My email's got over six thousand new messages. You're right. I . . . ought to have called. Immediately."

Ebsa filled a plate for Dr. Itchy. "Ex-wife?"

"Ex-sister-in-law. His wife ran off with a politician, and when Coffee got huffy and asked for custody of the kids, she gave it to him. Everyone figured it was revenge, since she'd raised them to be rude spoiled little snots."

Itchy's wife Tieh nodded. "Since her new husband hasn't been able to get her pregnant, she avoids all mention of them, so as to not shame her rich catch."

"Oof! These Game Marriages are . . . "

"Ridiculous." Tieh grinned as she took her plate. "Not that we'd ever planned on having children, but we will raise her as well as we can."

"Or him" Itchy snickered.

"Whatever. We've got an appointment with the doctor here tomorrow." She shook her head. "You warned us, Paer warned us."

"And you didn't believe us. Nobody ever does." Ebsa flipped the steaks, then grabbed another stack of plates and started filling them.

For undersized customers. A tall skinny girl. "I'm a vegetarian. Vegan."

"Excellent. I'm testing a cashew milk based sauce." Ebsa loaded a plate with green beans carrots and broccoli, and got generous with the sauce.

Her little sister scowled at him. "I'm a carnivore."

"Ah, for you . . ."

Her eyes widened at the size of the steak.

"And . . . just in case some adult checks . . . a single braised green bean. And the sauce on the side, in case you're adventurous."

The older boy shrugged. "Whatever." He glanced toward his father and Aunt, both sitting, and by their expressions, not having a cozy chat.

"Eh. Parents. Grab a separate table and ignore them." Ebsa handed him a plate.

A slight stir . . . he glanced over. Ambassador Ashe, his current wife, Xaum. Two kids and two flunkies in tow. One of them the boor in the elevator.

Oy! I wasn't expecting boss types again! Is he trying to catch us at our worst or does he just like my cooking?

Ebsa ducked into the kitchenette and grabbed the top two linen table clothe, six linen napkins and four sets of flatware. Spotted two empty tables next to each other. No sweat for the experienced . . . Whip the table clothes across, shove the chairs out of the way, the tables together deal out napkins and flatware shove chairs, graciously hold a chair for the ambassador's wife and disappear.

"One! That's bloody inconvenient."

"Don't you have wait people?" The tall boy was back.

"Nah. We're field staff, we expect people to be more independent."

"Do you . . . pay waiters?"

"Right now?" Ebsa eyed him. "Yeah. Let me get a tray."

Six glasses, ice and water.

"Napkin over your arm, hold the tray with your fingers spread for stability, right hand free to serve . . . or grab the tray if it's tipsy."

And off he went.

Should have made him wash his hands!

Ebsa tossed more steaks on his little grill, loaded plates, fixed six salads and sent them back with the boy.

"What's your name? I'm Ebsa."

"Call me Epic. They asked about wine?"

"Umm, I think there's one in the fridge . . . I'll bring it out."

Flip steaks, load plates, a few special requests, but most of the people just grabbed the plates as fast as he loaded them . . . He left the grill bare and grabbed the Riesling.

"Fruitier than is proper for a salad, but crisp and complex." Ebsa grinned. "Also the only white on hand. I have a rather interesting red blend on hand as well."

Ashe sighed. "We'll have the white now and the red with those steaks I see you're serving."

Ebsa wielded his corkscrew, poured for the ambassador, received a nod and filled the adults glasses.

Then back to the grill to do something about the line that was backing up.

Good thing the supplies I ordered six months ago were delivered here yesterday. Along with a note that it was bad form to hog a freezer box for so long.

He whittled down the line, sent Epic out with hastily defrosted rolls and butter, "Collect any salad dishes they're finished with." Then he loaded six plates and escorted them out, carrying two and taking the rest from Epic's tray.

Madam Xaum eyed the plate. "Is this what you will be preparing for the Fair?"

"I haven't settled on a menu yet. I'm testing this sauce—it's vegan, and served over vegetable would be so much more elegant than tofu."

"Indeed. Now the visual impact . . . "

Ebsa winced. "Unfortunately for a mass event, paper plates will be . . . "

"No. Just . . . no!" She pulled out a minicomp. "I was thinking something like these."

Tiny souvenir plates, with a rearing golden unicorn on white china.

"Twelve centimeters across? That's the right size, and very impressive, but between the tight time frame and the budget . . . "

Nose up. "We will not be cheap."

The ambassador looked resigned but nodded. "Souvenirs are good."

"I'll have an itemized list and projected costs for you in the morning, sir." Ebsa ignored snickers from the next table.

:: Suck up! ::

:: Shut up, Yowza, or I'll stop feeding you. ::

Ebsa turned to find Epic coming up behind him. Napkin over the arm cradling the red wine.

The kid catches on fast!

Walking back, he eyed the kid. "Did you actually eat?"

"Yeah, real fast, to get away from my sisters."

"So how old are you, and what level did you get expelled from?"

"Seventeen. Senior year. My aunt says I've screwed up any hope of college, but why should I try? With so little from my dad, there's no way I can afford college."

"Huh. Yeah, I suppose his going on a multi-year dig was very wise of him, but he probably had planned to be in touch and visit regularly."

"Oh? He sent an email and some pix once in three months. Then you all got marooned. Not that I noticed any difference."

"And they're talking about three months here, just to be sure of no contamination. I wonder if we have a high school here? You know, I think Disco has a small school. I wonder if you could get into it?" Ebsa eyed the boy. "Because 'moved to Embassy World and attended school with students from multiple worlds' sounds pretty good on a college application. And if you can't get scholarships, you might think about the Directorate School."

"You like working for them?" the boy looked around the kitchen.

"Oh yeah. Mind you, in three months cooking ought to go back to being a hobby. Fun, but not the career I'm interested in."


They looked around. Dr. Coffee grinned. "Ebsa's the hero of the Project. Now, I've managed to get a double sized squishy out where they've decided to put us for now. Let's go check it out."

Ebsa checked his wallet and slipped the kid a cash card. "Thanks. I needed the help."

cnmckenney on December 27th, 2017 03:59 pm (UTC)
Bind not the mouths of the kine
And there goes Ebsa, spreading cheer and revolution wherever he goes.
(Anonymous) on December 27th, 2017 07:00 pm (UTC)
Almond or Cashew?
Ebsa bought Almond milk, but made a Cashew milk based sauce? Just one more nit.
And a HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours.
Joe Wojo Jrwojorider on December 28th, 2017 08:41 am (UTC)
enjoying this!~
Minor typo "oldest by" speaking of boys, first one is identified as oldest then tall boy. Are they the same one? Had to check thrice. Could be Epic. :)