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!
The cool season had finally arrived in Dunlago, the Land of the Free Races of the Desert and the Sea. The prevailing breeze ensured that one could enjoy a stroll outside along the wharves of the harbour in relative comfort, even in the middle of the day.
Most of the guests at the Blue Mermaid sat outside at tables lined on a platform along the street under a verandah, either to sip a strong coffee or to look and be looked at. Any citizen of note would have been considered uncouth or downright boring by the higher society of Dunlago if he or she did not make the point to patronize the most famed inn of the nation at least once a week.
Ekan had more practical considerations in mind. Mumtaz had come down from the Palace for his bi-weekly visit to the Black Dragon’s kitchen. His big friend was demonstrating the recipe of an unusual dish he had discovered during his long stay in Beaucastel.
Ekan was beating eggs in a bowl under the attentive eyes of Mumtaz, Naeem and the whole staff.
“Jonas, what do you call that dish?” the young chef queried.
“They call it an omelet in the south. First , you beat eggs, add salt and pepper and heat oil in a skillet. Count a tablespoon of oliva oil for each egg and wait until it is very hot. What we have here is a plain omelet, but the beauty of that recipe is that there are no limits to whatever you could combine with the eggs. Personally, I like it as simple as possible. A few freshly cut herbs should provide ample taste.”
He turned to the back door opened onto the large garden where a couple of children were busy helping Claudius the gardener.
“Mareeva! Matthieu! Bring us a few sprigs of thin leek, will you?”
The two children had come to Dunlago in the company of Ekan as the weather had turned cold with the approaching winter. Matthieu certainly did not complain to stay away from the castle and the impossibly crowded city of Beaucastel. It would have been perfect if Lieutenant Gratien de Salles-Lavauguyon and Firebrand, his outlandish female dwarf companion had not joined their party on Lady Geraldine de Blanchefleur’s orders. Whenever they could escape the clutches of their guardians, the two of them spent most of their time in Claudius’ company, in the kitchen, or playing with other children at the harbor or in the market.
They hurried inside with the herbs asked for by Mareeva’s father. They lingered to look, hoping for a tasty morsel.
Jonas chopped the leeks and included them in the eggs. He poured the mixture in the skillet and briskly stirred the whole with a fork. The whole population had adopted that kind of utensil in no time after some Elven merchants and diplomats had introduced them in the capital.
“The secret is to keep stirring them all the time, so that the hot oil nicely blends with the eggs until you obtain a light and fluffy omelet. If you just leave the eggs to fry on the oil, you will end up with a heavy and greasy piece of food impossible to present or taste properly!”
He expertly let the omelet slide from the skillet onto a plate and invited everyone to sample the treat.
There was enough for all to taste.
The two children already knew the dish but nonetheless savored it with delight.
Mumtaz was munching a second helping as he commented:
“I can see a lot of possibilities. Such food should please ladies in particular. Light but nourishing and delicious. Serve it with some salad in spicy dressing for our women, or with some stew and bread for our men. How do they serve it in Beaucastel?”
“They mostly eat it for breakfast with fried bacon and sausages on thick slices of grilled bread.”
“That could prove a good idea here, too! It could make for a hearty meal for those ravenous nobles of ours! Mumtaz mused aloud.
“We could adapt one of our traditional recipes by adding cooked vegetables cut in small cubes.” Naeem proposed. “If we fry it on a small fire instead, we should obtain some kind of soft hot pancacke. We could cut it in quarters before serving it along with some marinated fish and other garnish!”
“Good thinking, Naeem! I’ll tell you what: let us put our ideas into practice right away and offer the results to whoever happens to be sitting inside the tavern or under the verandah as a gracious service on the house! We shall be able to judge whether our customers will develop a taste for it or not!”
He turned to the children:
“You kids, come along with me! We need some more herbs!”
The three of them went out to join Claudius in the garden.
Mareeva was bent picking flat leaf parsley with Matthieu, when on an impulse; she lifted her head to watch her father.
Jonas’ imposing frame too was crouched over the neatly hoed lines of earth, a hand about to pick a sprig of leek, when his gesture stopped in midair. His eyes stared ahead of him.
Mareeva recognized the telltale signs.
Her fingers lightly tapped her friend’s arm:
The two children were two of the very few individuals privy to Ekan’s true secret nature.
The Black dragon that Dunlago people called Jonas was not speaking. In fact, he was listening.
Someone was trying to reach him in mindspeech.
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