Story for the Day: Peanuts and Chocolate
Rautu is taking the failure of the peanut crop very seriously.
Rautu could rejoice in the failure of the fruit and vegetable crops. He was all private elation at the idea of being made to eat nothing but meat and baked goods every day. While everyone around the keep was grave and conferring and pondering, he was prancing along the battlements in high glee, deciding which of the wild beasts and foul would do for his dinner that evening. He might be prevailed upon to hunt enough to feed the entire keep. He began forming a schedule in his mind as he sulked down the stairs to the training yard: Gods Day could be pheasants, the next could be smoked meats, and the next could be brined slices, and the next could roasted boar, and the next could be marinated steaks of various elk, and the next could be baized lamb, and the last might be eggs or turkey merely to give him mate one day of reprieve from her duties at spicing. He saw this impending famine as no famine at all, for Frewyn could do very well without such odious articles as fruits and vegetables. The nutrition they supplied might be got elsewhere, and though beans and seeds might be wanting, fruits and vegetables could not really be missed. A diet of chicken, turkey, pigeon, lamb, and pork would be the very thing to save Frewyn from starvation. Bread could yet be baked though its production somewhat halved due to the sharing of grain with the stockmen’s herds and flocks, sugar and salt were not in shortage, and all the superior spices of basil, thyme, savoury, rosemary, and pepper were yet unharmed. There would be no starvation; there would only be a change for the better. Everything that was lacking in their diets might come from their trade with other nations; it was ridiculous to cause such commotion for a few orchards when there was food enough in the Dehir and Tuar just waiting to be hunted.
These cogitations furnished his mind until he reached the barracks whereupon stepping over the threshold he was suddenly struck with the idea that chocolate was produced from a bean and peanuts were legumes. This might have meant nothing on any other day, but while his thoughts were caught in a circular loop, he began to have some concerns with regard to the crops in Farriage. No report had reached the castle of how drastic the failure of their crops had been, but if the harvest of beans and legumes was anything akin to the ones in Tyfferim or Sethshire, his diet should also be compelled to change. He stood in a momentary panic: peanuts were the only and truly safe addition to chocolate; they were not in danger of being fruits in disguise as almonds had pretended to be, and they could not even be mistaken for capsules. Their pod, their secure little shell, proved them as legumes: safe to eat without fear of being poisoned. He loved roasted peanuts, especially when pulverized and salted and placed in the centre of dark chocolate. The two rich and distinct flavours complementing one another, the smoothness of the chocolate and the delicately salted savour dancing about together on his tongue, provided hours of endless delight to his particular palate, but when the notion of both these treats being endangered by the failed harvest finally prevailed him, he did not take a moment’s hesitation in acting to preserve his daily and most of the time hourly succor.
He fled the keep and hastened first toward the Lucentian café. He would have gone to Diras Delights first, but the café was closer and sold his favourite Lucentian chocolate: Risesas, the mellifluous blend of roasted and salted peanuts and the darkest chocolate, sat stacked in a pyramid just behind the counter. He roared for assistance, and when it was given him, he demanded that the whole shipment of these treats be packaged and given to him before he could exercise his right as a Frewyn commander and kill the attendant for refusing to serve him and thus starving him out of what must be his. The chocolates were packed, the money was thrown hastily across the counter, and the giant leapt toward Diras Delights, leaving the Lucentian attendants to count the remarkable amount of gold coins their ardent customer had left behind.
With wild eyes and panicking inhalations did Rautu throw open the door to his bakery, bowl over the customers in his path, and thunder to the counter. He had a moment’s alarm seize him: his eye fell everywhere yet could not find anything with chocolate or peanuts in the display or along the racks of the walls. He pounded his fist on the counter and bellowed, “Where are your peanut clusters?” while searching every face in the bakery for an explanation.
“Aye, Simae, Mr Den Asaan,” said Bestiegh as she came presently from the oven room. “I thought you was comin’ today, so’s to make sure no one what breathed on your trifles, I put them here aside for you.” She took a heavy package from the side rack and carried it to the counter only to have it snatched away by the giant’s eager hands.
Rautu inspected the package and found his precious peanut clusters perfectly shaped. She detected no finger marks and no breath impressions, which were all his concern now that is fear of the world going without peanuts and chocolate had been assuaged. He repacked the chocolates, and then with a suspicious eye said, “And your peanut buns?”
“Gods bless me, they ain’t even out of the oven,” she exclaimed, shaking her head and rolling up her sleeves. “You come so early this morning, I didn’t know you was in for the whole shoppe. Bless you, how you can eat. I would everybody had your stomach. I’ll have them for you in a trice.”
Her slow drawl and languid movements gave the Den Asaan some further agitation to feel, but once the peanut buns, sprinkles with roasted nuts and filled with ground peanut paste, were safely in his hands, he could be easy again until he was attacked by the notion of how many other places he had yet to visit.
He thought of going to the Marridon bakery, but as their quality was inferior to Frewyn articles and therefore nearly intolerable, he would not trouble himself to relieve them of all their lingering chocolate and peanuts. He would only go to the Marridon Chocolate Factory and demand that the entire stock of the shoppe be packed and packed and conveyed to the keep as soon as was possible. He paid the owner well for his forbearance and his services, commanded him to order more from Marridon this moment, and marched back to the keep, his arms full, his mind tranquilized, and his heart desperately pleased.