(1311-07-04) An Introduction to Fried Potato Sticks
Summary: The much awaited (or dreaded) picnic.
RL Date: June 29, 2019 &…
Related: Name Dropping, The Virtues of a Linen Bag and How to Perform a d'Angeline Handshake
andre desarae 

Le Cascade

Taking a smaller path that splits from the main one, following it through the trees and down a small slope, and a person would find themselves in a large glade at the foot of a waterfall. Entering the glade is like stepping into another world; for no views of the city, or the sea that can be heard in the distance, are possible from here due to the trees that surround it. It's here that the river which has wound its way through the Eisandine fields, tumbles over a fifty foot cliff and into a pool at its base before continuing on its way. Over the centuries the rocks surrounding the pool have worn smooth, and the natural hollows and formations of which they comprise allow for sitting or bathing in the sparkling clear waters, or for stretching alongside the pool in the warmth of the Eisandine summers. Trees around the edge of the glade offer respite for those that prefer to seek shade when the sun is high, and one large flat rock that overhangs the pool is a popular spot from which to dive.

At some point in history, someone carved a small grotto into one of the rocks behind where the water cascades, and lovers will often place a devotion to Naamah here, asking her for blessings.%r

The thing about having people of importance as guests of the Sovereign Duchesse, is that it's generally wise to be cordial and accommodating towards them. Thus when André had expressed a desire to accompany Deserae on one of her rides, she'd felt obligated to acquiesce. She'd managed to sidestep the issue for several days, but with the dawning of yet another glorious Eisandine summer day, the burden of that duty is being finally shouldered. A short (and to the point) note had been sent to the suite of rooms which he'd been allocated within the palace, stating that she intended to ride out to La Cascade that morning.

Conversation had been pleasant enough, and there had even been a moment or two of levity between the young heirs as they'd wound their way on horseback through the countryside in the company of eight Mereliot guards, a cassiline, and a carriage containing two well-trained servants, a handmaid and a rather large picnic. La Cascade, when they arrive, is already getting busy, with families having travelled out from the city for exactly the same purpose as Desarae and André, though the Mereliot servants are quick to find the most perfect of spots where the ground is flat and the trees offer shade. They unpack the carriage and erect a canopied awning, beneath which they set tables and chairs upon which the picnic will, eventually be set.

Let's go for a picnic, she said. It would be fun, she said. She didn't say they would have a massive retinue following along. It took Andre a little while to get over the ceremony, but once he did, he found himself relaxing, asking her questions about the city and the sights they were riding past. The arrival at the beautiful water fall leads to a genuine "ooh!" of delight. Delight that grows when he watches two boys dive into the pool from above, creating a big splash. While he lets Desarae gets sorted, he talks to the servants, having a low argument about something he brought and which he clearly wants set up. A small yet sturdy cast iron pot, which will soon be installed over a little fire to better melt the fat within.

Desarae spends the first few minutes after they arrive, in talking with her cassiline and ensuring that the groom whom takes her horse from her is aware that Adagio is not to be fed oats whilst he relaxes, as they make him too headstrong. The horse has come along well since her rescuing of it from the butcher's knife: his temper sweet enough for Desarae to handle. That is, when not fed on oats. "And do you like it here then, my lord?" she asks of André, fingers threading the tiny buttons through their loops which hold her gloves securely at her wrists. "I used to hear all about wonderful days spent here when my brothers and sisters came to Marsilikos, though I wasn't able to join them back then." Though she notices the way in which he commandeers the servants with instructions on the pot, she doesn't mention it, but embraces another topic entirely. "Will you swim, do you think? I imagine you'll still need to keep out of the sun as much as you can, but a dip or two should be fine."

He's more a fresh light pink than lobster red now, with most of the burnt skin peeled off, replaced by very fresh skin. "Oh, I think a dip would be most excellent.", he assures her, "Would hate to miss it. We don't have this kind of impressive waterfalls at home." Well it isn't called the FLAT lands for nothing. "Would you like to go for a swim right now or spend a while recovering from the ride first?", he asks, casting an eye towards the servant tasked with dealing with his pot. That will take a while. "Do you come here often, Mylady?"

"I'm afraid not. Not as much as I would like, at least," Desarae says, peeling her gloves from her hands and handing them to her maid. "I wasn't able to as a novice, and last year was, well…" There's the smallest lift of her now bared hands, her palms held uppermost in a gesture which is quite universal and known to all. "But yes. I will certainly swim, but not right now. I want to sit and recover for a minute, perhaps have a glass of wine and something to eat. We'll be here for a few hours, so there's really no rush." She unbuttons the raspberry silk of her riding jacket as she speaks, and allows her maid to ease it off her shoulders and carry it away. "I can't imagine a land so flat that you have no waterfalls. It sounds terribly dull."

Andre just nods diplomatically to the explanation, he probably heard her backstory by now from talkative people in town. He waits to see where she may go to sit down, so he can join her there, then chuckles at her last remark. "Oh, we do, just not such big ones. We have miles of rivers and canals though, that freeze in the winter, so you can race along them on ice skates. Does that not sound fun to you?", he asks hopefully, "In the summers the canals provide ample opportunity for swimming, boating and… well, we have a fun little competition, which I might introduce here during the Great Exhibition.", he adds, trying to look all mysterious.

"Could you fetch a blanket for us to sit upon please?" Desarae requests of her maid, "and ask one of the servants to have some wine brought over. The white one which I love so much, from the baronne de Salers' vineyards." And blanket quickly provided, she lowers herself to sit upon it, her face turned André's way as he explains about frozen rivers, ice skates and fun. "It's not something that I've ever tried myself, though I have heard of others that have. It tends to be too warm here in the south of Terre d'Ange for ice to ever get thick enough to walk upon, though I believe it has happened on occasion. I think I'd be too worried about falling through and freezing to death." Fingers twist a stray bit of hair from her cheek, and a small frown furrows her brow. "So you think that you'll still be here a few weeks from now to attend the exhibition? I'd have thought you'd be long gone back to your family by then."

"Oh, how sad.", Andre comments on the lack of frozen rivers in the south, but he's quick to smile again. "Perhaps some day you shall visit the Flatlands and I will be teaching you to skate along the canals. It will be fun and it's not difficult.", he assures her optimistically, "And you will not freeze, because skating will warm you up like a brisk walk." He settles down on the blanket, crosslegged, happy to accept a cup of refreshing white wine "Oh, yes, of course.", he assures her, "How could I miss it? I think I arrived just in time. I'm the right person to represent my country after all. The merchants had already sent for some things from home, but I've added a few more to the list." Clearly the young prince is not in a rush to go home.

Desarae's skirts spread around her on the blanket, the fabric thicker and heavier, and split down the front to reveal the doeskin pants that she wears beneath. Her feet tuck to one side and the glass of wine, once delivered, gets cradled in her fingers. "I don't think I'll be visiting your homeland any time soon." Her words are quietly spoken, and on the heel of them she takes a sip from her glass, the wine wetting her lips before a mouthful is taken. "I'm going to be very busy soon, and I may not even be in Marsilikos for the exhibition itself. I will be back and forth between here and Chavaise over the next few months." Her smile is bright. "But tell me, besides apples, what do you hope to bring over?"

"Oh?", Andre asks curiously, "But why would you want to miss the Exhibition? It will be the event of the year! There will be so many exciting things from all over the world, I can't WAIT to see and experience them all!" He does look and sound like a child before christmas, then chuckles. "Oh, apples are only the start. You will see. In fact, I have prepared a little surprise for you…" He turns to check on the servant and how the pot is doing. The man gives him a nod and Andre grins. "Excuse me for a moment, Mylady…!"

"Oh… I don't know," Desarae eventually concedes. "I mean, who knows where any of us will be come September." A sigh escapes her lips, and she distracts herself with the manipulation of buttons through keepers to loosen her skirts so they fall from her waist and fall to the blanket. She draws up her legs and presses the apex of her chin to her knees, her glass dangling from the tips of her fingers where held to one side. "Perhaps, living in Marsilikos as I do, I've become innured to the treasures that are offered by our neighbours and further afield. Emmadame, my aunt, has a vast collection in her home, and as you have probably seen, the palace is likewise filled with them. But a surprise, you say? How lovely." She draws a breath and says no more, though when Andre escapes to attend to his curious pot her eyes follow him, her curiousity somewhat piqued.

There's some fussing with the pot but with Andre's back to Desarae, she can't see what it is. It takes a few minutes and more fussing until he finally returns to her side, bearing a plate in one hand and a small bowl in the other. The bowl contains something white and creamy. The plate is covered in golden fried potatoe sticks. "This, Mylady, is a treasure from home, which you are hopefully not yet innured to.", he says and sets both down between them before taking his seat. "And trust me I'll be here in Marsilikos in September.", he assures her, his expression warm and excited.

"Does the treasure have a name?" Desarae enquires, transferring her wine to her other hand, so she can filch a fried stick from the plate. She dunks it into the bowl, then with a scooping motion collects a little extra of the white and creamy substance and transfers it quickly up to her mouth, pausing only to blow on it to cool it a little. Bite. Chew. Her expression gives nothing away.

Andre shrugs. "We just call them fried potatoes.", he replies, watching her to see what she'll make of the Flatlandish speciality, "It's simple and filling and everyone loves it. There are plenty of variations, too.", he talks it up, "This is just a simple snack version. Along the coast people fry fish to go along with these. They're crazy for the combination in Alba."

"How strange," Desarae says, nonetheless helping herself to another of the sticks which likewise follows the fate of the first. Flatlands fare is apparently agreeable to her, and she licks creamy white sauce from her fingers once a third has been taken. "These aren't horrible," she allows with a crinkling of her nose. "Perhaps you could explain to our chef how they're made? Not sure I'd want them with fish, but then, as you say, the Albans are strange." And homage paid to her fingers, she takes another mouthful of her wine, and blinks at the brightness of the day as she refocuses her attention on the pool and the people within it. "They say that the Akkadians breed the finest horses of all, and that they are bringing some of those when they come. I would like to see them lay claim to that, however, when faced with those bred by House Charlot. Perhaps they will run races to settle the matter. What do you think?"

Andre is pleased by her reaction to the fried potatoe sticks and nibbles one only slowly, letting her have the bulk if she wishes. "I can tell him…. sometime…" He suddenly grins, eyes crinkling at the corners, "First we shall introduce them as a novelty at the Exhibition. And in fact I might open a stall then, to sell the to the public. I BET it will be popular!" As the focus shifts from potatos to horses, he nods. "I would love to see them race, too. I saw a few in Carthage and they are tiny. Hardly more than ponies.", he says a little dismissively, "But I hear they race camels, too. Now THAT would be a fine sight!"

Desarae does have another of the delightful fried sticks, though this she breaks in two so that two dollops of the dip might be loaded upon the ends. "Open a stall?" she enquires, pausing to ask the question before popping the potato into her mouth. "Not to run yourself, I hope. I mean…" and a laugh bubbles, despite herself. "… I cannot imagine a Prince standing and selling like some commoner merchant." She paints the picture with mirth, and it might in fact be the first time that Andre's seen her anything other than serious. "And as for the horses, I really don't know." She pauses for breath, though her mouth still quirks with a smile. "I have seen paintings of their horses, and they are beautiful indeed. The have dished faces and the manes and tails of silk that flow in the wind."

Andre seems quite pleased with her mirth and chuckles. "Oh, why not? Nobody here knows who I am, right?" He picks up another fried stick himself and becomes more serious again. "The Flatlands are a trading nation. Merchants and traders matter more than the old nobility. My father knows this. He knows we must be part of them and not stand apart. It's why he apprenticed me to a merchant house in the port, where I wrote shipping reports and bills like every clerk in the offer." He looks at her curiously: "Have you never pretended to be a commoner and mingled with thr egular people? It's amazing what you can learn!"

No, I have not," Desarae says, leaving the rest of the potato sticks for Andre, should he wish them. "Surely you know enough about d'Angeline culture by now to realise that, as a novice of a salon here in Marsilikos, I never set foot outside the walls without a guard and a chaperone? I wasn't free to come and go as I wished, and in any case, should something have pysically befallen me, then my life as a courtesan would have been over." A shake of her head. "I don't mind missing out on things which seem so commonplace to others, and my first few months since leaving the salon I was scared of every deep shadow and every strange face. So as you can see, I simply have not the desire for such things. But, I am now a little confused. What need is there for a prince to learn the composition of shipping reports and the making of bills. What use is that to you in ruling your people?"

Andre mhmms to her explanation, but lets it go, respecting it as it is. "I understand it must be a change, Mylady, but I hope that you will come to enjoy the world in all its different and fascinating aspects. And yes, knowing my way around bills and shipping lists matters to our people.", he adds, looking at her earnestly, "If two merchants argue about cargo or petition us for help because their ship sank with rare goods from Bhodistan, we need to know what they are talking about. We need to be able to assess their problem and rule accordingly. I love being in the port.", he adds brightly, "Once I helped loading a ship with cargo and went drinking with the other men afterwards and they had no idea who I was!" Clearly a source of pride for him.

Log ongoing…

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