Story for the Day: A Giant’s Delectation
A piece about Rautu's many dislikes and his one true love: dark chocolate
A Giant’s Delectation
Though many in Frewyn were disposed to pay tribute to the Den Asaan, acknowledging his gallant efforts to save the kingdom and honouring his general splendor, it was unknown to the denizens of the kingdom as to whether he had eaten and enjoyed their tribute or had merely cast it off with a laconic and diffident huff. Some conjectured that he accepted his gifts with a pout and a very good grace, but then was wont to give them away, the confirmation of this being a defined form betraying no distinctive hints of his having ate anything so agreeably unwholesome. His daily training must be owing to his excellent condition; he must exert himself if only to relish in all the pleasures of eating so much, that every arduous movement or strenuous exercise must have been done only for the object of being allowed by either his mate or his brother to devour everything with such alacrity. There were some suspicion as to whether Kai Linaa had anything to do with the business, as she was renowned for her Lucentian constitution and voracious appetite, but the Den Asaan's glorious want of generosity should never permit him to allow anyone to touch what was his.
That he admired every one of their gifts, this they knew, for though he appeared stern and disparaging, chary of every item and inspecting it with all due misgiving, that he regarded them at all rather than treated them with all the insult of indifference betrayed his secretive delight. He fussed, he flumped, he sniffed, he scrutinized. He sat at the table in the commons, making his careful examinations with furtive sanguinity. Was there chocolate inside, was it dark chocolate, how much butter was in the crust, was it a flake crust or a shortbread crust? were all questions that, though insignificant to most, were of the highest consequence in the giant's mind. His tolerance for fruits had grown over the years, but his apprehension of nuts, as their being seeds or possibly fruits as the deceptive almond had been revealed, had expatiated since his arrival in Frewyn. Abiding white chocolate, however, there he was immoveable, for the name itself was a gross misapprehension of what chocolate was; it was hardly chocolate at all: it was butter fat, the excess, the skim to be scraped off and thrown away, and yet here it was, rife with sugar and formed into bars, declaring itself eatable though hardly so, offending his sensibilities and affronting his appreciation for Frewyn’s cooking prowess and disgracing everyone who dared to make it. Diras Delights had ceased to make anything so indecorous and deceptive since his management of the place, and there he must be satisfied, but that the Marridon Chocolate Factory still would produce so mortifying an object, this he could not suffer. He must, however, leave the Marridonians to wallow in their culinary mistakes; they were known for their blunders at cookery, and as they never had time to glory under the happiness that an excellent meal provide, he could and must forgive their error. He should not eat it, and everyone else who should even venture to send him a slice of something so odious warranted due punishment. Gifts with white chocolate were returned with a solemn note of thanks, and those who dared to send anything so improprietous again saw their gift duly spurned. Such a horror and mockery of Frewyn’s cooking master was burned accordingly, and the pleasure the Den Asaan felt in watching the white mixture smolder and melt over the fire was all his placation and ease, smiling to himself, knowing that he was ridding Frewyn, a kingdom known for its confectionary conquest, of such an evil.
Baked Goods, though fairly tolerated on any account, had similar fates if made with anything disagreeable, but if the giant sought to remove it from his sight by way of a fire or of feeding it to the hounds in the Royal Hunting Grounds, here the commander must intrude and proclaim that Alasdair was in want of something to increase his contracted waistline. Certainly the sight of a foreign baked good must be irksome to Martje, who was forever making pies and cakes and seeing them vanish from the larder with gratified delectation, and therefore Rautu gave his rejected gifts over, happy in the prospect of Martje growing livid and Alasdair agitated by the sight of them.
Milk Chocolate had an even more strenuous assessment to bear than many be conceived, for here there might be something salvageable from such deception. The name promised its being chocolate, and yet the blending of the two did not quite yield the result he should have expected. Semisweet was barely tolerable in small gradations, and therefore warranted at least a giving away if not a burning, but he had learned over the years to separate the wheat from the chaff, taking those milk chocolates made without the hindrances of caramel, nougat, nuts or fruits, and finding a time and place for them. They were kept as his most desperate pieces, to be eaten and savoured only when dark chocolate could not be got or when all the chocolate he had kept in various caches about the keep had done. He must then assemble these items in order of direness, ranging from the most horrid to the least deplorable, eating the former at only the most urgent of times and the latter as a mediator for the few minutes it should take him to walk from the commons to the bakery.
|Dark chocolate: check. Coconut: no.|
Dark chocolate was forever acceptable and encouraged, for even the worst of dark chocolates was better than the best of the milks. Baking chocolate, though hardly eatable for many, was kept as a great treasure to the giant: always in immense blocks, always bitter, always heavy and full of flavour, all the giant's succor was in so excellent and unexceptionable a treat. Dark chocolate, sprinkled and defiled by a few shreds of coconut, could be tolerated, but the same infused with deeply imbedded nuts was inexcusable. The mixture of dark chocolate and peanut, however, as Lucentia was famous for creating, must be forever his favourite, and while he had his suspicions about cashews and pistachios, their flavour exquisite but their veracity as nuts and not seeds wanting, he must confess that these were nearly as superior as his great friend the peanut. Seeds, however large or small, were not to be endured, and were therefore expectorated into the fire with all due promptness. Fruits, however, were observed as a tarnishing of dark chocolate: they might be eatable as garnishing, for they could be then removed and given to his mate, but any berries or dried slices of anything promising wholesomeness attached to his chocolate with any degree of permanency was immediately rejected. A garnishing of something resembling a citrus flavour may be sometimes acceptable, but anything by way of a filling or even a crème was unpardonable.
The maker of these travesties must be given all the penance that such a disgrace to chocolate could merit. Those Frewyns who were in the secret of the giant's greatest love should never venture to send him anything so objectionable, but those who were not occasioned all the punishment that such an offense deserved. He marked the direction of the sender and trudged to the given address, with his sword in one hand and defiled chocolate in the other. Heads turned, eyes peered, minds inquired, and whispers followed as was requisite for his appearance. He would give Frewyn something to discuss, and those who gave so vile a tribute were cowering before the menacing beast, begging for their lives and thanking him for being forbearing enough to break their doors instead of their necks.
He was a kind despot, however; he could forgive these little oversights, as the gesture was well-meant, but a correction must be made, a new chocolate must be sent, and then all should be forgiven. They were highly gratified for the giant's overwhelming munificence, thanking him for his mercy and for teaching them how to make the best of the cool evening gales, the giant took his leave, humphing and stamping his way back to the keep, fully expecting to see the mistake rectified, and awaiting his new chocolate with unmitigated complacence.
These little slights and reconciliations provided excellent diversion for the nearby taverns, which in the summer months were wont to open their terraces. The sight of the giant trundling down from the keep always warranted interest: bets must be made, the names of the offenders must be conjectured, injuries must be contrived, and insults must be imagined, and upon the whole, those in the secret of Frewyn's giant's affection triumphed in seeing a newcomer to the capital err when wishing to pay his respects.
Rautu was become a great favourite with the kingdom’s denizens; with the understanding of how his vexations were so easily appeased, and that he should never harm those who were not in the wrong, his temper was now delightful regale. After a punishment had been granted, those at the taverns invited him over to share in their meat and cold pies, relishing his wary glares, enjoying his brooding scowl, laughing at his flouts, and delighting in all his little cultural differences. They played at cards with him, offered him drinks, and would not allow him to leave their tables unless he had grown disgruntled at least once. The giant bore their hardy natures well, and though he may have sat with sullen affection, he left their company with the notion that he enjoyed Frewyn, its customs, and its people very well. They were openhanded, vivacious, thoughtful, hardworking, and though a little misguided at times with regard to their Mivaala, they were a people admirable enough to rival his own, full of friendliness and joke, frolicsome and magnanimous, and though he came to glower, to accuse, to demand, and to fault, he left their tables with a mindful aspect, a downcast eye, and a half smile wreathing his lips, blanketed with a few crumbs for his troubles and furnished with a few chocolate stains for his pleasures, his heart gladdened by their valiant efforts and indefatigable willingness to glorify and appease.