2019-07-08 - The Bane of Hot Mustard


Ambrose fulfills his promise to bring dinner to the Embassy for Sif to enjoy. Sif, however, does not enjoy the hot mustard — poor Sif!!!

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Jul 8 03:29:32 2019
Location: Asgardian Embassy

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Theme Song



With the sun setting behind the Embassy, Sif is seated on the roof after an afternoon spent trying to grasp the skill that is 'roller skating'. She's put the skates away for today and is seated near the koi fountain, her mind occupied with contemplating where to acquire dinner. The Embassy's kitchen does try to keep up with the demands of the building's occupants, but it is very easy to overwhelm them with requests. Also, there are so many places to choose from in this Manhattan.

She takes a moment to start unbuckling the leather guards on her forearms and shins, as she'll need to change into more acceptable clothing should she decide to dine in a tavern.

"Yes, I'm here to visit the Lady Sif. This can't be an impossible thing to request of you, surely?" Ambrose does his best unamused look down his nose at the Einherjar on duty at the front desk of the Embassy. "Observe: I've even made a point of bringing along food. It is dinner time and she will no doubt be looking forwards to it."

A beat.

"…fine, I'll bloody sign in," the master-thief reneges and scrawls something illegible on the visitor's log. Placing the feather pen back into its ink-well with a piqued flourish, he then swans past the Einherjar and towards the stairwell.

The roof door opens and the Jackal peeks his head out, looking left and right. Espying Sif by the designer water-fountain, he slinks over and speaks up from behind her, sure to keep the width of the fountain between him and her.

"Milady Sif, a good evening to you." The gentleman-thief grins at her most charmingly, projecting guile as clear as day itself. "I was in the neighborhood for less-than-nefarious reasons and thought I might stop by with a share of my goods." The brown paper bag is lifted up. "I've Chinese food if you've never had the pleasure of it. Pork-fried rice, eggrolls, and chow-mein. It's not what it used to be in Shanghai, but I've learned to appreciate the near-authenticity that the family provides."

Clearly, Sif had not been expecting anyone, as Ambrose's arrival and calling out to her elicits a startle and hastily brandished knife. THEN she recognizes Ambrose and the fact that he's kept the koi fountain between them.

She lowers the knife and returns it to its sheath, then finishes remove the greave from her leg. "Well met, Ambrose. I apologize for my lack of appropriate attire, I was not forewarned that you would be visiting." She dusts off her hand and stands, wearing her usual sparring attire and sporting at least a couple of visible bruises on her upper arms from a few of her less successful skating attempts. They don't concern her, though, she's had worse from combat training and they'll be gone by morning.

"Ah…I see." Those cerulean-blue eyes drag up from the knife-sheath on her leg and flicker from the bruises on her arms to Sif's face. "Let us not stand on tradition this evening for dinner. I came assuming no formality, after all." He plucks at his polo shirt to make a point. Jeans and high-top sneakers complete his look while keeping him in-line with the young, hip generation of New York — all the better to blend in as the wolf in sheep's clothing.

Extending his free hand towards the nearby table, he then steps over to take up a chair at it. Out of the brown bag comes a number of white styrofoam with shorthand item descriptions written on them in blue pen. Ambrose fishes around for the set of forks and flattens the bag in order to set them both atop it, all the better for Sif to grab once she's settled.

After a little pause, the Jackal sighs. "It occurs to me that I did not bring drinks. Could I impose upon you for a glass of water, milady?"

Sif steps over as Ambrose explains and ahs with a nod. "You did offer to bring a meal. I have tried a meal similar to this before, but I am still very curious." She seems entirely okay with the rooftop table as a meal place, though when he asks about beverages, she nods. "Let me see what the kitchen has for beverages. I will be just a moment." She heads for the stairs promptly, clearly intending to run down to get the beverages herself. She's … barefoot.

If Ambrose does a little snooping while she's gone, he'll find her greaves and vambraces easily enough, as well as a pair of sturdy woolen socks (they might appear to be hand knitted) over near where she'd been sitting, as well as a larger than normal modern shoebox. Inside the shoebox are a pair of roller skates.

"Of course. Thank you, milady," Ambrose says as he inclines his head to her in an echo of courtly manners learned over a century ago. He waits until he can no longer hear any semblance of her presence in the stairwell before rising to his feet. Of course he snoops over to the far side of the fountain and lets out a thoughtful 'huh' upon recognizing the roller skates.

"Thus, the cause of the bruises," he murmurs even as he turns to go back to the table and sit down once more. By the time Sif has returned, he's opened the majority of the containers and helped himself to portions of it by the forkful. He's currently leaning back in his chair with an eggroll half-eaten hovering over a small plastic container of what appears to be a form of yellow paste. He sniffs once and dips the eggroll in it again before glancing up over at Sif. "Ah, milady, wonderful. Here, do dip your eggroll in this. It heightens the natural tastes of the food itself." He pushes the container across the table at her with a fingertip.

It's Chinese hot mustard, of course.

Sif returns with three gallon jugs of water held in one hand and two plastic tumblers in the other. Setting the cups on the table she looks over the food offerings and promptly takes up an eggroll. "Ah, thank you, Ambrose. I do like these eggrolls, but I have not tried this paste before." And, not knowing any better, dips it square into the yellowy paste before taking a bite.

She chews twice, pauses, then starts coughing harshly as she turns away and spits out the half-chewed bite of mustard-laden eggroll.

Ambrose's eyes widen visibly. Reaching, he grabs a napkin and offers it out to the coughing woman across the table from him.

"I — I apologize, milady, I did not expect — I was not thinking. I am so very used to the mustard and its heat that I do not think twice of offering it. Here," and he quickly uncaps a gallon jug in order to pour her a hasty tumbler's worth of water. "Drink. Wash your mouth and spit, it will be better for it." Standing, he comes around the table to offer the cup to her and lingers, wincing. Oops.

Sif accepts the tumbler of water and does as instructed, revealing watering eyes and patches of red high on her pale cheeks. It takes the entire tumbler and half of a refill for her to recover sufficiently. "By the Nine… what manner of poison was that?" She eyes the hot mustard warily before looking at Ambrose without a hint of blame aimed at him.

She's totally blaming the mustard.

"I have had the misfortune of other foods that burned my mouth, but not in that manner. It was … unnatural. What IS that?"

Ambrose returns to his chair once he's certain that the five-alarm fire in Sif's mouth and nose has receded to more manageable levels. He pours himself his own glass of water and somehow manages not to spill as a slight laugh jounces the stream of falling liquid.

"It is called Chinese hot mustard. I believe they mix horseradish powder into something akin to a stone-ground mustard in order to get the zesty effect." Which is what he's calling the heat, apparently. "I've always had a love for it ever since discovering it in the…late 1960s, I believe." He sips deeply of his water before setting the cup aside. A fingertip hooks the hot mustard container back towards himself and he dips the remainder of his eggroll in the paste. "If you've no love of it, I shall endure the rest of it with much distress." By his tone, he's teasing — he really does enjoy the paste by how he sniffs to clear his nose and keeps chewing, smiling close-mouthed at Sif.

Horse radish. Sif has tasted other food named 'mustard', and none were nearly as painful, so she is guessing that that is the difference. Disgusting stuff, this horse radish. And of course, watching Ambrose eat the same mustard as if it were a mild sauce…

"I am not sure I will ever understand the Midgardian penchant for eating things that should not be palatable." She picks up the rest of her eggroll and eyes it for a moment before deciding it's not contaminated and taking another bite. "Also, why food items have to be created in colors that should never be considered edible."

She must have seen some snack of Darcy's.

Daubing at the corners of his mouth with his own napkin, Ambrose nods in understanding. "I've no fondness for the dyed foodstuff, but it is difficult to avoid at times. Though, if I've anything to recommend that does not contain any modicum of heat within them, they are jelly baby candies. If you've had the pleasure of jelly beans, they are similar yet softer — a creation of my own country from when I was young yet."

Assuming to take the container of chow-mein for himself, the Jackal spins up a large forkful before glancing back at Sif again. "You have no like for anything heated in spice, do you?" He sounds…almost musically thoughtful, as if an Aesir disliking any foodstuff was a novel concept to him.

Having finished her eggroll, Sif starts using her fingers to pluck pieces of pork out of the fried rice with the deft skill of much practice. "Mm. So far, that is true, yes. I have had several Midgardians suggest items they considered 'mild', but so far if any even mention the term spice they are painful to eat."

She considers the chow mein, and clearly is at a bit of a loss on how to eat THAT neatly. She could pick it up with her hand, of course, but that frequently seems unacceptable to Midgardians. A knife would be useless, and she's attempted to use those small white utensils before and invariably they snap in her hand before she can really use them.

"Ah, yes, the term 'mild' is rather loosely applied to the various spices of this world." Ambrose keeps the container of chow-mein to himself for now and continues forking up mouthfuls of it between his thoughts. "There is, of course, no pressure whatsoever to attend upon anyone's suggestion to eating a food. Considering the natural variations of heat intensity within them and the recipes containing them, you've no real…basis of experience yet."

On a thought, he fishes out a pair of chopsticks within a red paper packaging from under the paper bag. "Oh, and here. If you don't wish to use a fork, try the chopsicks instead. Allow me." Setting them before Sif, he takes out the other pair and breaks them. Rubbing the splinters off of each stick on its mate, he then takes them up and holds them in his fingers. "See? They form a pincing apparatus in order to take up your food." Delicately, he picks a single noodle from the chow-mein and eats it.

That does make sense and Sif nods her acceptance of that information. "As many interpretations of spice as there are varieties of foods on this realm?" It's a logical conclusion. She has apparently just found herself in a place where food is not considered edible if it doesn't try to fight back. At least now with Ambrose's words, she can more confidently request foods that are not spicy, rather than merely that subjective 'mild'.

Then Ambrose is offering her a pair of sticks to eat with. She's seen most Midgardians in the taverns that sell egg rolls eating with these sticks, and simply did not comprehend them and was unsure of asking for assistance. She watches him pluck a single chow mein noodle, then picks up the pair he gave her, mimics rubbing them together without understanding why, and tries to hold them as Ambrose does.

She's no better at this than at the skating. Her attempts to control the sticks have her frowning faintly until one of them snaps in her hand and she curses faintly in a language that sounds like an ancient form of Norweigan or Icelandic.

"Yes, as many variations as there are foods. Simply request them without any heated or hot spices whatsoever as you can," he assures the Aesir warrior. Watching her struggle has him paused and the snap of the chopstick makes him blink. From what it appeared to his eyes, she was exerting rather minimal force and the stick is shy of broken in twain from this.

Another series of thoughts flitters behind his half-lidded eyes as he considers Sif. Then, setting down the chopsticks, he simply picks up a noodle in his fingers and eats it.

While it does grate on his long-ingrained manners drilled into him as both child and British upper-crust, it has a sense of…freedom to it. He smiles to himself and takes another long noodle before offering the chow-mein container towards Sif, as if to imply for her to take a long noodle of her own.

Sif is about to apologize to Ambrose and excuse herself to request the metal utensils from the kitchen when he sets his own sticks aside and picks up some noodles with his hand. She can only smile at his concession to the annoyance that is Midgardian eating utensils and reaches to claim a noddle herself.

She actually manages to eat said noodle neatly, clearly considering the flavor of sauce on it. "This is good," she declares. "I will have to reqest this again." She gets a more generous handful of noodles. "What is it called?"

Once she gets going, Sif can put away food at a pretty good pace.

The Aesir ends up with the noodle container slid before her. "It is called chow-mein. This is a vegetable variation, though it also comes with slices of different meats within it if you've the inclination," Ambrose explains even as he snags the container of pork-fried rice away from Sif in turn. He can't bring himself to try and eat fingerfuls of the rice, so the fork comes into play again. He treats it as no more interesting or more polite to do as such and doesn't flinch to see her eating the noodles by hand.

"Next I find the time to visit this place, I shall bring more types of Chinese food for you to sample. Mind, I will not be asking for them sans their spices, but I will keep all of them from containing the heat you dislike."

Sif starts making quick work of the chow mein, though she does occasionally reach across to pluck a piece of pork out of the rice. Wait, no, not occasionally. Every time she sees a piece of pork she's stealing it. "This cnow-mein is quite flavorful. I expect it would be even more so with roast boar and ox and tiny feathered risaedla."

His mention of spices and heat as separate entities has her pausing. "You use the term spice… is it different from the burning some foods exhibit?" It doesn't help that the only cooking she's ever done is roasting fresh-caught game over an open fire.

Ambrose pulls the fried rice closer to himself after the fourth theft of a slice of pork, miming aiming the fork at the Aesir in a bold move of possessiveness. "Milady, leave some for a starving man!" he says with a laugh and shake of his head.

"Spice is a flavor at base. A spice can be sweet or it can be hot. I would hazard it is differently than temperature, yes, which one would describe as hot. I could eat a poached egg off the iron skillet and it would burn my tongue. I could also sprinkle Tabasco sauce over it and it would burn my tongue because of the spices. It would be best if you ordered only those items without the descriptor of 'hot'," the Jackal reminds. "Of note on most menus are the small red pepper-like shapes next to the names of food that contain strong spices. Avoid those and you should be safe, I would think."

When Ambrose pulls the rice further from her and (politely) complains about her stealing the meat from it, she finally relents with a small amused smile and focuses on the chow-mein, now plucking out the vegetables to eat the way she had been stealing the pork.

She listens attentively as he explains how spice flavoring is different from spice heat and how that is different from temperature heat. "I think it might be the Allspeak, but it seems that you use the word 'hot'," she says that in accented English, "to mean different things. Is this lack of specificity normal for Midgardian languages?" Then he goes on to describe how to identify the items on the menu likely to cause the unpleasant burning sensations. THAT is useful information, and something that will likely make her explorations far less unpleasant going forward.

"Thank you for bringing a meal, Ambrose. It is quite good."

"Yes, it is one of the pitfalls of the Midgardian English language in particular. Prepare yourself from homonyms," the master-thief adds with a snicker behind closed teeth and a fond sigh at the drastically-difficult language. "«If you find it easier, I can speak in another tongue entirely. However, if I remember correctly, your ability allows me to sound all but the same to you no matter which tongue I choose.»" Ambrose slipped into fluent Farsi for this particular run of words and eyes Sif curiously. Does it make a difference?

"You are quite welcome, milady Sif. I do follow through on my promises as I can. It is, after all, not only good business, but honorable manners." And how Kent would roll his eyes at the old eternal singsong about honor in the Jackal.

It's clear by Sif's reaction — or lack thereof — that she CAN'T tell he switched to Farsi and back. "No, the Allspeak makes ever Midgardian language the same to me. I think, if I pay close enough attention, I can tell when there are differences in the way someone forms words and sounds, but that is unreliable." Especially if someone isn't looking at her.

She finishes the chow-mein in short order and pushes the container aside. She's learned to not try to pick them up, as she's crushed more than one of these strangely delicate and noisy white containers in the past. She could very easily reach over and start in on that rice, but Ambrose is clearly still eating, and she's not about to steal from him again after he spoke up about it. "Good business? What manner of business would that be?"

Ambrose's face shifts through a series of expressions and lands eventually on a coy nonchalance at the question from the Aesir. "Duly noted," says he of the trick to AllSpeak. "That will make communication all the more clear with you." He then shifts in his seat as if he were getting more comfortable, though Sif might mark subtle nuances of alignment to get to his feet quickly.

"In my own case, 'good business' is following through on any promise. You see…I believe that anyone, man or woman, who gives their word in honesty must follow through upon their words with actions. If this is bringing dinner, then they must bring dinner. If this is, say, something less…scrupulous or…benign," he decides, his tone deliberately airy, "…then one must follow through on this as well. I do not level threats, you see. I give promises. It is a thing of honor, even unto a dual at dawn with pistols, daggers, or other weaponry at one's hands. It is a gentleman's honor, and a soldier's honor. Others have called it archaic, but it factors into my daily decisions without cease. Perhaps it limits me in ways, but I believe it also saved my life." He then laughs behind his teeth again, the sound curling in the back of his throat.

"That is a tale for another night, however," he says with a point of his fork at Sif.

Sif contemplates for a moment after Ambrose explains his personal definition of 'good business' then nods. "Your upholding of a promise given is the basis of what we Aesir consider honor. When I feel that someone is behaving honorably, it is because they are staying true to promises they made. Though I am not as certain about the… something less scrupulous or benign. The act itself might be considered dishonorable, even if were doing such out of your sense of honor. It is … more complicated on Midgard, it seems."

Taking a swig of water from her tumbler, she wipes her hands clean then claims the brown paper bag to start putting empty containers in, presumably to carry back downstairs. The extra water jugs will likely stay up here for anyone else choosing to do any sort of practice.

"You have supplied a meal that was most satisfying. I will reciprocate on our next meeting. Agreed?"

By the lift of Ambrose's eyebrows, he wasn't expecting a further invitation after basically admitting that he stuck to the honor of the thief's code. He salutes the Aesir warrior with his own glass of water, once more refilled from the gallon jug, and then shoots its contents with practiced, loose-jawed ease.

"Of course, milady Sif. I look forwards to our next tete-a-tete." Rising to his feet, he suggests a time and date along with an inquiring spread of hand before himself. "I shall contrive to be downstairs at this time without giving your Einherjar reason to squint in my direction." Before he departs, the Jackal gives Sif a deep and courtly bow, exercising every bit of muscle memory from the time of Queen Elizabeth and hobnobbing with the gentry.

"Adieu, milady," he murmurs before giving her a final charming smile and then excusing himself.

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