theonecalledwander ([personal profile] theonecalledwander) wrote2013-03-06 09:23 pm
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I’m expecting to be shown back downstairs, but it transpires that Bel has a separate kitchen in her upstairs quarters.

It’s built over the enormous oven. The stove appears to be custom made. It can be heated either from below, or using its own tinderbox. Her cookware is beaten copper, well-made and well-used. The spice racks were enough to make a dozen apothecaries hang up their pestles in shame.

As for food, her stores are somewhat more modest. There’s bread, of course, but that could probably go without saying. Rolls and loaves too hard to sell, but perfectly edible when you get past the crust. There is some dried wild rice, some hanging sausage and a bit of ham, some dried roots and mushrooms and a few reasonably fresh vegetables. When drying and curing are the primary means of preserving food and glass window panes are a luxury beyond the budget of most, it just doesn’t do to lay up food in huge amounts.

Not terribly surprising, I suppose. Space may be at a premium, but she lives alone, and clearly puts a lot of stake in culinary skills. She earns her metaphorical daily bread in providing the literal thing for others, of course, but I think it goes deeper than that. Food is important to her. There’s a deep connection there.

Her asking me to cook for her is a test, but more than that, it’s a way to get to know me in a hurry. If she were someone like Tyrol, I’d think she were trying to sort me into categories: man or woman, serving class or served… Bel’s mind is not trapped in such dichotomies. This is likely to be a qualitative judgment along multiple axes.

“Is there anything you’re saving for a special occasion?” I ask her.

“Use whatever strikes your fancy,” she says. “If we’re not killed or turned into vampires, we’ll call this a special occasion and I can restock for the next one.”