Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food fit for a king

LT was very glad that fall was coming.  It was beautifully cool at night, and the days were pleasant, warm in the middle of the day without being hot and nice enough to sunbathe for prolonged periods of time in the morning and late afternoon.  Daddy had even raked together some nice piles of pine needles for him to lie in.  They smelled heavenly and were cozy to sleep in at night.  That was a big advantage to fur.  You could sleep on pine needles and enjoy their smell without being poked by them all the time.  Humans had to sleep on gigantic soft pillowy things that they then covered with soft cloth.  Their skin was so sensitive, and any little bit of fur they had did nothing to keep them warm or protect them.  Not for the first time he thanked the Great Cat that he had been made a cat.

Earlier today Fuzzy had been begging at the back door for the treats that the Daddy gave out.  Amazing.  This was the cat that didn’t want to have anything to do with them after that one Cat Club meeting, but when exposed to fancy treats he forgot all resentments and greeted them all happily.  He’d even been nice to Peep without being told, which was a first.  LT wasn’t sure that he should be jealous that Daddy gave treats to Fuzzy, worried that the treats would run out faster or happy that Fuzzy wasn’t picking on any of them.  He rolled around on his back in the pine needles, crushing a few to get extra pine scent and in the contentment brought about by the smell he decided to be happy about Fuzzy’s new behavior.  

He eased himself out of the needles and carefully stretched out all four legs.  His old bones really appreciated it when he babied them a little.  Long slow stretches – first the hind legs, one at a time, and then the front legs, also individually.  Then he arched his back and wiggled a bit to work the kinks out of his spine.  He also waggled his head a bit to loosen his neck and then bent his chin to his chest to finish the stretch.  Now he felt ready to do anything.  

LT considered for a minute and then took off like a shot across the yard, heading towards Carl’s truck, where Peep was sunning.  He hoped she was asleep, as this would be much more fun if she didn’t see him coming.  LT approached the truck from the back, jumped up on the sloped rear panel, which incidentally was covered in that nice rubbery covering that claws could get some purchase in.  He vaulted over Peep, who woke up with a start, and bounced off of several pieces of the tow truck’s machinery and ended up on top of the cab.  “King of the truck!” LT warbled.  “I am the King of the Truck and no one can challenge me!”  He then sat down, lifted a rear leg and proceeded to groom himself nonchalantly.  It didn’t look like it, but he was keeping a sharp eye on Peep, in case she decided to challenge his supremacy.  He almost hoped that she did, as he had some ideas on dodging to cause her either to fly over the top of the truck or skid across the cab roof and fall off the other side.  

Peep looked up sleepily at LT.  “Whaz going on, LT?  You can be King of the Truck if you like, as long as I can sleep here.  I prefer it down here where it’s not so slippery.”  

“Minion, yes, you may sleep in the lower parts of my domain, as long as you pay me tribute.”  LT had read an old book with Daddy recently, and some of the characters had talked like this.  He hadn’t realized he’d get to use this flowery language quite so soon.  What fun!

“Pay you tribute?  What’s tribute?  Mommy and Daddy pay the vet with pieces of paper and pay their bills with other kinds of paper.  Do you want me to bring you some paper?  I think I could find some old envelopes in the office trash basket.  Is that good enough?”  Peep was still mostly asleep, and didn’t realize that paper out of the trash might not be what he was looking for.

“Hush, varlet!  You offend our royal ears.  How dare you offer to honor me with garbage.  For that offense to our royal person your tribute is now doubled!  No, tripled.  You must bring me three delicacies to tempt my royal palate ‘ere you sleep on this royal truck again.  Now, off you go, knave.  Fulfill this quest and you will be honored above all cats!”  LT was really getting carried away, and almost asked Peep to bring him one of the couch pillows for his royal throne.  He would have done it, but was afraid that he might slide off the cab roof, and that would offend the royal dignity.  

Peep slunk off the truck and walked around to the back door where Rudy was sleeping.  “Rudy, did you just hear what LT said?  What in the world is he talking about?  What is a delicacy?  I know that a deli is a place that humans buy cut up meat to put on sandwiches.  Does he want me to find him some cut up meat?  I really don’t want to go all the way to Glory’s and try to steal some meat just to sleep on the truck.”

“Nah, a delicacy is just something that’s good to eat.  Maybe something a little bit fancier than usual.  It could just be the regular food with a garnish on it to make it look pretty.  That’s what they do on the cooking shows.  They make something that you or I would consider a raw hamburger, put a couple endive leaves next to it and call it ‘steak tartare’.  It’s still just a raw hamburger.  Hey, I have an idea.  Let’s root around in the kitchen and see if we can come up with some true ‘delicacies’ for old LT.

The two cats went inside and took stock of the food that was sitting around easily available.  There were some bananas well past their prime, a lovely bunch of grapes that the Daddy hadn’t quite managed to finish yet, some stale cake in covered pan and half a pot of coffee that had been left on too long.  Within minutes they had transformed the bananas into ‘banana blancmange with fine herbs’, the grapes into ‘grape kebabs’ and the some of the cake and coffee into ‘espresso gateau’.  They’d used plates from the counter, hastily licked clean to hold their delicacies.  Oh, this was going to be so much fun!

Peep went back out to where LT was sitting regally on the truck cab and said in a low hesitant voice, “King LT, I have prepared three delicacies in the kitchen for your delectatation.  No, sorry, delectation.  Sorry, that’s a difficult word.  But it means that they’re delicious and you should come and eat them.”  She bowed her head and waited for LT to jump down and join her.  

LT, feeling that he was at last being shown the deference he deserved as senior cat of the house, vaulted gracefully to the ground and led the way into the kitchen.   When he saw Rudy, his ego was so inflated that he didn’t even consider that they might be making a bit of fun at his expense.  “So, my minions, what have you prepared for me?  If your tidbits are to my liking I might consider allowing the two of you to join my royal court.”

Rudy had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.  “Oh, King of the Truck, we have created three brand new delicacies to tempt your tender palate.  First we have a banana blancmange with fine herbs.”  She pointed to the plate with a smooshy mass on it with sprinkles of something greenish on top.  LT didn’t know what a blancmange was, but knew from bananas and herbs.  So, it couldn’t be too bad.  He took a little taste and decided it tasted like almost rotten bananas and moss.  Not very good.  “Ah, quite an interesting dish, my subjects.  I mustn’t overeat on the first dish, so let us taste the others.”  Personally, he hoped the other two were better than the first.

Rudy presented the grape kebabs – grapes speared onto incense sticks that smelled really strong.  “Ah, what a novel presentation for grapes.  And what is the significance of the sticks?”  

“Oh, the sticks are frankincense, as that is a scent worthy of a true king.  We felt it would enhance your highness’ experience of the grapes and make grapes, a fruit for the masses suitable for royalty.”  Peep managed to say all this without busting out laughing.  LT sniffed them, and replied slowly, “Ah, yes, frankincense is suitable for a king, but I, uh, believe that it should be a finisher to any meal, so I will leave it for last.”  He was beginning to think that perhaps the two cats were having fun with him.  

Peep presented the last dish – espresso gateau.  “This is a carefully aged cake, with strong espresso as a glaze.  As in the carefully guarded recipe, the espresso is poured over the cake only moments before serving, so as to not compromise the crunchiness of the aged cake.  I hope that it is worthy of your royal highness.”  Both Rudy and Peep now bowed their heads low over their outstretched front paws.  In concert they said, “Is your highness satisfied?”  

LT looked at the three dishes, probably none of which were edible, and began to laugh.  “You two took my joke and turned it around on me, and did a better job than I did.  I was just going to make Peep catch me a mouse or two, but the two of you have made me these absolutely inedible things and dressed them up with names that make them sound like they should be served in the finest restaurants in Paris.  I have an idea.  Let’s leave these for Daddy.  Maybe he’ll think they’re from the Yarn Lady and try them.  That’ll be a joke on him.”

All three of them wandered back outside and climbed on the truck together.  LT and Rudy sunned on the cab roof and Peep returned to her favorite spot.  When Daddy came home and went in the house all three cats looked at each other and laughed, but decided they’d let him figure out the ‘delicacies’ on his own.   

Image courtesy of James LeVeque - http://www.flickr.com/photos/jleveque/1400305/

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