Cook's Holliday

From the Story Arc: New Years 2007

Previous Story in the Arc: The Long Way Home by Dr. Bella Dawn Parker (Monday, January 01, 2007)

(posted Tuesday, January 02, 2007)

Thea was almost entirely happy.

New Year's Eve, of course, had only seen people flitting in and out of HQ, as they stopped by going to and from other celebrations. That was why she had left out food that was perfectly good even if it had been standing for hours. It was hard to tell for certain who had been in and out, but the inroads on the snacks and sandwich makings showed that none of her efforts had been in vain.

But this was New Year's Day, and now people were gathering in earnest, and remaining. There was American football on the television set at one end, and a satellite feed from Moscow on the television set at the other end. The big New Year tree screened each from each. Thea had brought out the "real" food as she thought of it. There were such clever things that Petro had made for keeping the things that should be hot, hot, incorporating little force-fields so that the hot food did not dry out or the cold food get soggy. She had thought about keeping the Russian, Chinese and American foods separate, but then--

It occurred to her if she did that, everyone would pick up only that which was familiar. So she mingled it. She actually had two batches of Zach's fried chicken; one cold batch that she had made last night, and the hot batch she had started frying up as people arrived and kept replenishing.

Or actually, that Felix, the robot, kept replenishing. There was nothing particularly difficult about frying foods; the magic was all in the preparation beforehand. So Felix was in charge of standing over the fryers.

She knew that Commissar Bella would not come. So she had tricked her with some made-up story about a sudden need for paperwork regarding Untermensch. Petro had helped Waitron concoct official-looking documents and print them out. So now the Commissar was tucked up in a corner, filling out forms, with tiny plates at her elbow. Thea would periodically exchange them. "Is sometink Americans vould like?" "Is sauce too sharp?" "Is too much salt?" The first couple, the Commissar had barely tasted, but Thea had expected that. Now, as she tried to puzzle her way through the nonsense that Petro had concocted, she was absent-mindedly eating. A lovely mushroom blintz had vanished into her. A cup of good thick borscht that she could drink. A blini with sour cream and caviar rolled up in it. And the dimsum she had made to Sun Kai's recipe had been the most successful of all. She or Waitron or Sera had been leaving a single steamed bun or potsticker on a tiny plate beside her, and when it was gone, would return with another.

This made Thea very happy.

Overfilling her cup of happiness was watching everyone else fall upon her food like starving wolves. She had never seen Comrade Sofia look so contented, with her plate full of fish cakes...and then when the baked sturgeon had made it's appearance. Comrade Sasha, well it didn't seem to matter what was in front of him, so she simply plied him with fried chicken and stuffed celery sticks that he could wave about while he was arguing. Comrade Jason Collier even brightened a bit over the chicken and bisquits, and ventured to try blinis and mushroom dip, though he made a face over the herring salad. The football kept most of his attention, however. Commissar Murdock also used drumsticks to illustrate his points, so Thea made sure he had plenty. Madame Molotov, Comrade Bee, Alexei, Cerenje, Gremlin and Petro were waxing nostalgic over the Soviet broadcast, and vodka snacks were good for that, so Thea kept the table nearest them replenished. Comrade Vickie adventurously tried a taste of everything, and told Thea that the herring salad was outstanding. Friends from all over kept coming in. Even Comrade Pastor Savina turned up, to be plied with a plate of New Year's cake before it melted like the snows. By midafternoon the sturgeon was bones, the cake a memory, and the fare reduced to snacks. Thea was glowing with happiness.

When Alexei collected her to go home, he seemed a bit surprised. "You should be exhausted, belochka," he said. "Instead, you look like you have been three days at vacation dacha."

"Bah!" she replied cheerfully. "I am beink three days at vacation. Look!" She waved expansively at the room full of people who were in turn full of good food. "See how happy! Is makink me happy. No one fightink, only good arguments. Food is makink peace."

Alexei laughed. "Then maybe next time you go fighting Crey, take herring salad!"