I was Born the Unloved Twin
Every other Friday is pizza day at the camp's cafeteria.
A riot really did form on that day we first made pizza for Luka's impromptu going away pizza party. It was absolutely amazing.
To appease the angry crowd of unsatisfied diners who weren't able to get some pizza, we made it again the following week. As fun as it was, making pizza every week is too inconvenient, and I fear people will get bored. Now every other Friday is now pizza day.
Though it's not really called Friday here, in fact, there are no names for days of the week. It goes by numbers, which makes Friday the 6th.
That is a reasonable schedule to gather supplies and keep the regular cafeteria menu from changing too much. It's also a good practice rate for all the cooks and bakers.
Communication and rotation between the Ventrella kitchen staff and the cafeteria are better than ever. At this point, they're essentially the same shop but two different locations. We'll be able to double as a professional pizzeria in no time at all! Steady progress and stable successful results are more important.
From the results of the not so secret survey, I can conclude the top pizza doughs we will be focusing on. I wish to improve and finalize it down to an original and thin-crust version of two types of Pizzas. Both would be restaurant quality but are based on my memories of 'authentic' European style and the larger more shareable American styles.
Toppings are a story for another day- I don't know, whatever you guys want. Free choice is a thing. Eventually, I'm going to crave wild pizzas like California bbq, Japanese seafood cream, and all that but that's a topic for the future.
First I have to find those ingredients, shame.
Oh great, now I'm craving more things that don't exist in this world! There's definitely no Japanese food here! Even the rice is the wrong kind.
Well, back to the matter on hand for today. We have all the 'rejects' yeasts and doughs saved up. But just because they're not suitable for the final versions of pizza doesn't mean they're absolutely useless. I had them carefully sampled and saved away for reasons.
To make more types of bread!
Understandably, the world is just recovering after some very devastating times for humanity. Luxurious such as food culture and development have obviously been put on the back burner.
For the most part, people eat hard dark bread, usually made from various types of whole grains. Like the dinner rolls served in the cafeteria!
Nobles can afford the much more expensive processed white flour and thus eat 'white' bread. It's a social status thing. Such a pattern was common in every milled grain society prior to industrialization.
Funny how things reversed, I'm used to plain white wonder bread being cheap while whole-grain ones are 'artisanal' and much more expensive. Both are good but I do relish in eating these more 'artisanal' more commonly, it's healthier for you.
But in this world, they all taste the same! The same basic hard bread that you either eat fresh or soften with stew! I'm going insane in the mundaneness of it! I'm not used to such a static menu, as tasty as it is. I want variety.
My last talk with Amar also got me thinking about flat breads. Pita bread isn't hard to make, neither is naan. I also find myself craving savory Chinese pancakes or roti.
Then there are all the 'reject' yeasts with the potential to make some good sourdoughs. None of these things are particularly difficult to make!
I still don't get how such simple recipes aren't already widespread. Yet I can't really complain, I'm from a much different world. That's like a tourist coming in and complaining why things in a different place aren't like their home, absolutely unreasonable. I suppose the previous generations of rampant death and destruction really put a hamper on any sort of human progress.
Back to some lighter topic, say bread!
I get to visit my favorite ovens much more often now.
Lilyanne and I are visiting the camp at a much greater frequency than before, to the delight of grampa. Even if mother isn't too fond of our trips, she knows how beneficial it is for Lilyanne. While she's not at risk over any magical overdose with me around, the less pooled mana there is inside her the better for now. Besides the more Lilyanne practices 'charging' things, the better her foundations are for controlling her magic. She's too young to get it just yet.
Gable and uncle Geoff have also already assured mother of our safety, and so regular trips with grampa have been established. We even got to shake off the maids from accompanying us any further!
Lilyanne really is too small, she has no sense of control at all. More often than not my baby sister tends to magically zap herself empty and falls dead asleep promptly right after. She's not in any danger of depletion, not with her Dawn blessing doing whatever it is to make her a live battery. But she is a pretty hilarious sight when she passes out, not so much because of her.
No, the hilarious part is my ridiculous grampa. Instead of putting her to bed as a normal person would do, he straps her in a baby sling. Then he walks around like that for the rest of the time till she wakes up, oftentimes even after. It's something they both obviously enjoy.
What an idiotic pair of grandparent and grandchild.
During this time I'm free to run off and do whatever I please. Well...not exactly, but no one has stopped me yet so that's good enough for me. That and I refuse to be strapped like a baby monkey to the much bigger grampa monkey, I'm not even sleepy this early in the day!
I'm not saying the kitchens are the place you're most likely to find me but the garrison camp is just so large and there are so many departments.
It's a slightly better chance to guess I'd be there more often than not when I'm not getting my little butt whipped. Not literally.
Those things hurt I'm learning the hard way, but not that hard. I'm just really sore from Tamera's devil drills. Ow ow ow still sore, I better be a hella buff and strong kid after this
Didn't I say back to bread? Enough with unpleasant topics!
The marvelous super heated ovens behind the cafeteria that was so perfect for making pizza are also ideal for baking pita bread. Judging from the flour local to this region, it makes more sense to choose pita. I really am surprised this easy to make bread isn't already a thing in this area, it's much faster and more cost-effective to make compared to full on bread rolls.
But pita requires a real brick or similar oven to really get right. It's more than alright for the troops in camp but for everyone else outside or traveling, well there's the issue.
I wanted to figure out which sort of easy food staple I could introduce to the common people. Rice is alright but local taste mainly relies on wheat and bread. I highly doubt I can prevent the 'mini' famines to come but if I can increase people's preparedness and options, it could help.
The first wave of famine that I can recall came the harvest before Lilyanne's and mine's 2nd baptism. In this and nearby lands, children receive a second baptism at the age of 5. It is at this age that children are deemed closer to thinking working adults. They're no longer simple babies to be protected and are able to make their own choices, even seeking employment and apprenticeships. Yes, that means child labor is a thing here and yes it legally starts at age 5.
If it's any comfort to my modern sensibilities it's a limited system and you're not considered a legal adult until the age of 16. Which is still very much awful.
"Are you kneading the dough or beating it up?" deadpanned George, my most favored hands and feet.
"Hmmm, both! Yes, both works. I'm building my arm strength this way."
"Oh I see, in that case perhaps we should invite more troop members to be on mixing and kneading duty in here. Yes, just get everyone to beat bread for their arm muscle exercise."
"I was kidding!"
George is just joking but that actually doesn't sound like a very bad idea. Don't folks who misbehave get vegetable peeling duty and dish washing as punishments?
I see Mr. Boar twitch nearby, I think he's honestly considering it.
George is a young teen, on the cusp of legal adulthood around here. Getting out of the mansion's kitchens is good for him, even if it's just, oh say another different kitchen. Despite what the laws say here you are far from growing up! Expand your world young man!
Huh, I wonder if the raids crew take chefs with them?
"Meh, I'll take this over dish washing any day. Shit to scrub that gross shit." grumbles another young teen.
The boy named Yuna is not in any trouble right now, I just dragged him along with pita baking. That and I like his appearance and am using him to test my products. I don't have a guinea pig this pretty yet! Yuna may be a blond but his golden tanned skin and facial features, exotic to this land, makes him a whole new market in diversity.
I do realize it looks like I'm beginning to gather a teen harem of guinea pigs, after all, there's Abigail too. Teenagers are just the perfect test subject with their hormonal breakouts and such and now I have such a range.
Does Yuna get a choice in this? Kinda but absolutely not, I asked his squad leader and grampa. This grump cat guinea pig is one of mine now. It's fine, he barks more than he bites and he gets paid in his now favored shampoo bars and extra food. Teens sure are hungry creatures.
We just need to make the food now.
"Are we really not using any yeast starter in this?" questions George.
"Not in this one no, it's supposed to be fast and easier to prepare. "
He gives me a long and hard look even when he knows the correct answer with me. Is unleavened bread really that hard of a concept here? It should be even easier without yeast!
"Just get to cookin so I can eat already!" complains Yuna.
Ah, teenagers really are so adorable with their hormones and emo phases.
The ovens are full baking pitas and some other leavened flat bread experiments. The dough without yeast that we're mixing right now is for grilling outside the ovens. They're supposed to be a fast easy to make bread you can cook on a pan or a hot plate. With this not only do I hope to spread another deterrent to future famine when there's not enough bread to go around, but it would make some convenient fresh food for the troops while they're on the road. Dried biscuits really get tiring I'm sure.
Some of the flat breads cook faster than others it's interesting to note.
I hold out plates to the finished ones and bring them to my taste tester. No, my main test tester is not me, though I will most certainly be stuffing my face without a doubt. I need an expert but local opinions here, not just things that cater to my own taste.
I'm too biased and from another world.
"Okay dig in!" I exclaim.
The youngest in the room, beside me, rips into the hot off the griddle roti without even a flinch. How? Monsters.
"The chewiness is really good. It's not the same but it is better than the 'pita' bread from before. I like this one a lot more."
"Well get ready to taste more pita then because they are different."
"Um okay, I guess."
"Thank you very much."
He gives a bashful little smile and it's not just me in the room blinking away the bright cuteness. With Amar's rating out of the way everyone can rip and try the finished unleavened roti bread. More 'roti' style flatbreads are already grilling while waiting for the ones in the oven.
"It's good but it's also really plain without anything to dip." piped up Amar, mouth still half full of roti.
"I forgot the dip!"
That's right, plain flat breads like pita are meant to be eaten with things. Well, any carb should be eaten with other things otherwise it gets boring. Umm there's always olive oil and vinegar? And can we get some cheese and stuff?
The boy looks around nervously. While I know he's not shy the sight of chefs and bakers surrounding a single kid notes out ready to write down his every word it a little intimidating. I mean I'm used to such behavior since that's what they do to me but right now Amar is center attention. He' the test taster and final judge of our flatbread experiments.
"No worries, just say anything you think."
"Ummm, it really is delicious...and everyone did a great job."
" Don't worry about hurting anyone's feelings Amar! We can't improve without an honest opinion!"
Even without me motioning everyone agrees though they don't back off from him any. Let's give the kid some breathing room.
"Just spit it out already, that's what I do." half mumbles and grumbles Yuna, though that's more due to him stuffing his face with roti than anything.
Dipping in a sauce of any kind really does accentuate the taste of fresh bread. I can taste the difference already with some simple garlic and anchovies mix.
Huh, the roti is more popular than pita. I didn't expect that Is it the oil the roti was grilled with to prevent sticking? Fried stuff does taste good.
"Okay then, if everyone is okay with that."
"We are! Be brutally honest! It's an insult to every chef here if you lie!"
"Okay, umm for the 'roti' , when you get it up it's usually not...plain. People back home would sprinkle it with stuff like seeds or paste-like sauce. Or they brush it with more seasoned oil while flipping and cooking."
"Do you brush and sprinkle seeds both sides?"
"Um sometimes, but not if you stuff it first. "
"Wait wait wiat you can stuff the dough beforehand?"
"With the herbs or with filling? Like a meat pie?"
"Um..er ...both? I mean there's herbed bread alone but why does the meat filing have no herbs? I always wondered about that. Wait I forgot, herbs are expensive here, nevermind."
"No no go on Amar, don't hold anything back. We can definetely use local herbs, no problem." I encourage.
Whatever place he's from seems to have a better market on seasoning. I can smell is now, land of cinnamon and people actually flavoring their food. I wonder if they have chili?
Seeing his more reserved nature the cooks are much softer with Amar than with me. With his shyness, they're even more encouraging and patient as they react and write down noted and potential cooking tips. They're actually treating him more like the baby here when I'm the younger one.
Well, not really since I'm well...me. It all works out!
"The 4th and 5th ovens are ready." shouts a kitchen hand a distance away.
"Great, bring a sample of each different type here. And start brushing more oil on the roti! Do we have roasted seeds?"
"Already on it my lady!"
It's a good thing Amar is a growing boy with an appetite because he's literally going to have to eat some of every bread. And this is a lot we have baking and grilling here.
The life of a taste tester sure is tough but I think he'll live.
"The white one is really weird but the shape is familiar. I think it's baked right?"
"The lavash? How about the taste?"
"It's too...white? But it's not fluffy enough and it bites wrong."
"Hmmm needs a different flour then, everyone got that?"
"Um how many 'pitas' do I have to eat?"
The crowd of cooks and trainees continues their notes. Someone gets Amar another juice before he chokes on the sheer amount of bread that he's somehow downing. To be fair Yuna is thriving in the leftover carbs but he's a healthy preteen.
The tasting continues to the point I lose all track of time. I'm only shocked out of research and bread mode when I hear a familiar but out of place voice by the door.
"So this is where my mischievous little daughter has been missing her meals and running off to."
"Huh? Father? What are you doing here."
It's not unheard of for father to visit the Garrison grounds. He can wield a sword pretty decently and knows many of the older faces here. Though I know he prefers the expensive shotguns that seem absolutely primitive by my standards. He even showed up last Friday for pizza and enjoyed himself immensely.
It's just very odd for him to show up out of the blue, very out of character. Sure he's been taking a lot more time off from court but then shouldn't he be at home with mother? The funny thing is that he is dressed for court through his auburn hair and fancy clothes are slightly askew as if he rushed over here in a hurry.
"Can't a man check up on his darling little trouble making spawn?"
Well, that's one way of putting it. Rude but he's not wrong, I'm no Lilyanne. There's an odd bite to his words though. His mouth is smiling but his eyes sure aren't as he stares straight at ...slightly left of me?
It's just people tasting bread and taking notes around Amar though. Did father feel left out on the fun? He always did have a fascination for strange 'commoner' things. Is he interested in the flatbread? There's plenty to go around.
"Uh, sure? Is it time for me to go home or do you want some to try some flat bread too?"
I rip off a cooled down attempt at chapati bread and hold it out to him in a peace offering. I hope it's not really time to go yet.
With that, whatever strange tenseness seems to evaporate out of him. He perks up and when he makes his way over, takes over my seat and places me on his lap. He even eats the chapati directly from my hand like a petting zoo animal!
"Not bad, is that garlic baked on there? I still liked pizza better though."
But he eats the bread and is otherwise well behaved. As long as I feed it to him he eats it without any issue, really very obedient. If only he was like this all the time.
My father is a confusing man, I have figured out over time. Much much very much more complicated and difficult to figure out than in the last life. The previous Rosalia was either too afraid of him or desperate for his attention.
Meanwhile, I'm just always in some state of confusion about him.
Sometimes he seems mad, others time playful. This father has a whole range of emotions and expressions that makes him very human. Which shouldn't be as odd as it feels, dads are people too. Even if they're the father of a villainess. I suppose it's because I can judge from a better perspective and the fact we have an unintentionally closer relationship than the last time.
The strangest part is when he feels....like a dad? Like a plain old lame and very caring ...dad. It feels commonplace but it's not, not really. I'm far from home and this isn't 'my' dad, it's not even Rosalia's.
I can't ever recall him being like that, not in my memories, not even towards Lilyanne. It makes me wonder if maybe this father of mine is also a different soul. That or maybe the past Rosalia never really knew her parents, not as people at least...
I said no more unpleasant thoughts, not in front of the bread! No no no this is my happy place outside of Gable's Hobbit house, none of that nonsense allowed.
Father isn't causing any fuss as long as I don't make to move out of his lap and the cooks have calmed down from his sudden appearance. Fresh flatbread is still coming, my taste tester isn't full just yet and the kitchen hands have brought more dippable condiments to avoid getting tired of the taste. There's no issue to be had here. Back to what's really important!
In the end, layered roti grilled bread remains most popular but a few recipes of the high temperature baked pitas got rave reviews. There's also the plus that no one got food poisoning! That's a successful round of experiments in my book. Though no one seems to need dinner any more either.
It's another strange but productive day in this otherwise peaceful little life of mine. A tasty one too.