This is a series of exerpts taken from The Life Of A Dragon to prove that gastronomy can be discreetly introduced in any story or novel, be it fiction or not!
Ekan and Mumtaz were busy experimenting in the kitchen of the Royal Palace in Dunlago.
They had just taken rolls out of the oven. Mumtaz had been requested small pastries for guests as light food to accompany coffee served in the afternoon. The Black Dragon had suggested the addition of cinnamon and raisins to the light soft bread.
His new friend was about to taste one of them, hot, as it was, when the black giant restrained him with a hand on his wrist.
“Wait. I brought something for you!”
An intrigued Palace Chef saw Ekan extract a jar from the basket he used to carry all his findings.
“Look at what is inside, and smell it!”
Mumtaz saw a viscous yellow liquid inside the jar. He brought his nose close.
“Umh… That seems very sweet. I can also smell something like flowers in it.”
“I knew you had a good nose! It is made from flowers by small insects called bees. Have you ever heard of honey?”
“Yes, but I’ve not had the chance to see or taste any. Where does it come from?”
“Shahzad obtained it from a Beaulieu trader in exchange for spices. Although you can find it in the wild inside the trunks of trees far south near the Fire Mountains, some farmers have found the way to domesticate the bees and produce honey in large quantities. It is very sweet indeed, but far healthier than any sugar you could find here. They even use it as medicine for throat sore and other ailments. This is how they use it on their bread over there!”
He demonstrated by pouring a small amount on top of one of the rolls. He twirled the pastry around to allow the honey to spread all over the surface. He the handed it to Mumtaz:
The Palace Chef sniffed the bread and the brought it to his mouth. He bit a large chunk of it and started masticating.
His eyes grew wide. He stretched his arm holding the half-eaten roll:
“Jonas, would you mind adding another little dollop of that stuff?”
“Of course I don’t! But this is as far as you go, or you’d end up gobbling the whole tray!”
He poured some more honey on the bread. Mumtaz unashamedly threw it inside his mouth and licked his fingers like a child not wanting to miss any tiny piece of a rare treat.
“Jonas, you had better urge Shahzad to acquire more of that treasure in large quantities! I can see all the gentry flocking to his shop, as soon as they get to know what honey tastes like! Can you think of any other uses, apart of topping rolls and cakes?”
“Many, actually. Any time you use sugar in sauces or drinks, you could replace it with honey, and you will find out that it is sweeter and healthier! Women would surely appreciate a dessert less fattening than some cakes I can see around!”
“Healthier? If I could support that notion, this would become a solid reason for starting a new trend of cooking, although we might have to face some resistance from the guild looking after the interests of the sugar cane growers!”
“I would not worry too much about the guild, as honey is a luxury, whereas cane sugar is a necessity. Now, the reason why honey is healthier comes from the fact that it has already been digested by the bees, thus getting rid of all impurities in the process. After all, honey is produced to serve as food for young bees!”
Mumtaz passed his hand over his pate with a dubious look.
“So we are eating something which has already been eaten?”
“Yes. But you worry too much. If you knew how much we need these little things called insects, I’m sure you would lose a lot of needed sleep, figuring out what we cannot do without them!”
Just at that moment, a servant from the Palace entered the kitchen.
“Good man Jonas, the King requests your presence urgently!”
Ekan could not suppress an exasperated grimace.
“Just when the fun had begun! Oh well, it cannot be helped! Mumtaz. Let’s top all those pastries first!”
Turning to the servant:
“Good man, would you mind waiting for us and bring that tray to the King before I join them?”
The two chefs hurried while the underling patiently stood waiting in the entrance.
Before Mumtaz could pass him the tray, Jonas picked one of the rolls and handed it to the man.
“Eat it right now, but don’t tell anyone!”
The servant gratefully accepted it and wolfed it down. He then took the tray, but his greedy eyes showed that the way to the Kings rooms would be a long one indeed.
Once he had left, Jonas turned to the other chef:
“Mumtaz, if you want to start a new trend or fashion, always begin at the bottom and make sure the so-called gentry finds themselves scrambling around in fear of losing face!”
The two men parted in laughter.
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