Andrut stared at the near perfect sphere of rice sitting in the clay bowl in front of him. Bright white, it stood in stark contrast to the deeper reds of the bowl and the dark brown of the bar counter. A little steam trickled from it into the air, and small clay saucers sat around the bowl holding an array of different sauces, dressings, and vegetables.
It had been a day or so since the Bard Pria Tama had come through, showing them all how to make a meal of the town’s windfall of rice. Rice, when you know how to cook it, seemed to Andrut a very flexible thing with a lot of possibilities. The Tabaxi pirate that was traveling with the Bard had shown them that, when she made a small dessert out of it.
Two elderly human sailors entered the bar. It was fairly empty, being it was early afternoon and most regulars were still out on the ocean fishing or working the docks. They both walked over and sat themselves down on stools opposite Andrut. He looked up from the food at them, his voice resounding with the depth of the sea,
Karl answered, an elegantly carved whalebone pipe jutting out like a lighthouse from a giant bushy beard of silver, “I reckon we’ll be having a pint, to start the afternoon.” He looked at the rice between them with eyes the color of the sea, “I’ll take a six copper meal atop that, though we can be convinced to go half if you want to use us to test this here northerner food.” He placed some coins on the counter.
Andrut laughed as he counted out the coins and handed a couple back before pouring their beer, “Fair enough. Help yourself to the rice and whatever else is there. Tell me what you like best.”
Dave was a bit younger than Karl, but not much. He had short hair and a well trimmed beard. They were a couple of old retired fishermen with little to do anymore now that their sons had taken over the family responsibilities. Lifelong friends, they now spent most of their time down at the Leaky Whale, reminiscing about the good old days, talking shop with Andrut, and offering advice to anyone who’d listen (and a few who wouldn’t) until their sons would come in and take them back to their respective homes for the evening.
Today was no different. All the news about the medusa, some jokes about the new stone bar decor, the pirates just leaving a heavily laden ship behind kept the conversation between the three of them quite animated. Andrut’s booming voice would echo out from wherever he happened to be in the building as he kept up with their chatter while cleaning or preparing for the evening rush. Karl and Dave tried a few different sauces, by pulling off chunks of sticky rice and rolling it up into bite size balls and dipping them into the various sauces. They settled on a beer cheese sauce as the preferred sauce. There was a minor discussion between them before they called Andrut over. Dave pulled out a couple more copper,
“You got any mutton around? We want to try something here, we’ll need it real thin, like almost…”, he looked around the counter before settling on the Tiefling himself, “Thin as your apron. Hell, if you got any sea veggies to go with, that’d probably be good too.”
Andrut cocked an eye, “Ain’t every day I hear you two requesting a thinner cut meat.” They laughed and shooed him towards the kitchen area.
In the kitchen there was a large grey chest, bolted firmly to the floor and wall. Blue runes flickered and danced across the top and sides, leaving a trail of frost behind them. The front had a small handle that connected to a circular rune in such a way as when Andrut walked over and turned the handle the magic of the rune went out, the dancing runes disappeared, and the top of the chest popped open with a frozen hiss. The interior walls of the chest were covered in a thick layer of frost. It was here Andrut kept most of his non-fish meats to prevent spoilage. He grabbed a decently sized chunk of mutton from there and tossed it onto a grill and covered it. When he closed the magical chest and returned the handle to its original position, the rune lit up and the various other runes resumed their dance across the surface.
A short period of time later he returned from the kitchen with a small plate of thin cooked mutton slices and sea veggies and set it in front of the two old men. They handed him another copper each for more beer, and as Andrut poured, they simultaneously explained and built their new food concoction. “Y’see Tiefling, the thing about mutton is it goes good with this here beer.” Karl said, “And this rice keeps its shape when dipped in this here beer cheese sauce. So,” he winked conspiratorially at Andrut, “Stands to reason that this here mutton goes together with this here cheese sauce, and that when you shape the rice in a long shape like this, you can drape the mutton over it like so, tie it all together with the veggies, and dip the thing in the sauce, take a bite, and then a swig.” Karl, finished up his sentence in that precise manner. Dave and Andrut waited expectantly for him to finish. He put down his pint with a grin, “Aye, that’s the stuff. Go ahead, try it yourself.”
This odd dish was quite the hit among the dockworkers and fishermen who arrived that evening, and its popularity quickly spread throughout the town, and led to more experiments with different kinds of meats and sauces, wrapped or tied with edible seaweed. The ‘Classic Slice on Rice with a Pint’ would continue to be Karl and Dave’s food of choice in the times to come, when they would pull up their seat at the bar and shoot the breeze with Andrut, until their sons would come to take them home.