?

Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile PenUltimate Productions Website Previous Previous Next Next
Poem: "The Epicurean Caravan" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "The Epicurean Caravan"

This poem came out of the April 16, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from whuffle.  It also fills the #5 Epicurean slot in the Rainbowfic Sunlight list.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to the series Path of the Paladins.




The Epicurean Caravan


People still tried.
No matter how bad things got,
somebody made an effort
to cling to the trappings of civilization.
It gave Shahana hope,
in a world with little of that left.

"Agreed," Shahana said,
shaking the spice merchant's brown hand.
"We will travel with you to the next town
in exchange for a share of your cargo."

"We're getting paid in spices?"
Ari said.  "What in the world
are we supposed to do with those?"

Shahana remembered
what it was to be a peasant girl
with no more knowledge of seasonings
than mouse garlic and wild thyme
and whatever else might come from
an herb garden or a trip in the woods.

"We can eat them.  We can trade them,"
Shahana explained.  "We can learn about them,
for the spice merchant is sure to know his wares
and how to use them all to best advantage."

So they did, for Navish devoted himself
to the epicurean philosophy of comfort,
not just for himself, but for everyone around him.

"I find awe and reverence in things of beauty,"
Navish explained.  "Pretty pictures, delicious flavors --
why are they in the world if not to inspire
our worship for those who made them?"
He stirred a pot of stew thick with peppercorns
and laurel leaves, onions and venison.
"The gods may not walk this world all the time,
but they've left us tools enough to do their work."

Shahana and Ari learned about
the earthy golden taste of saffron
and the peppery verve of redpetal
as they ate rice the color of sunlight.

They learned about star anise
and moon lavender, making cookies
in a lidded skillet nestled in the campfire coals
while Navish sang a song from his distant homeland.

"Did you know that you can stir your tea
with a stick of cinnamon, then dry the stick
and use it again tomorrow?" Navish asked
one morning as he made the tea.

"We do now," Ari said with a laugh,
and sure enough, it worked.
The smell of cinnamon in tea
would forever remind them of these mornings.

When a quartet of Gorrein's men
stopped the caravan to demand its goods,
Shahana and Ari faced them down.
"You will not take what does not belong to you,"
Shahana said to them, hand on her sword hilt.

"We will not leave empty-handed,"
their leader retorted, eyeing the caravan.

Navish eased the way with free samples,
plying the hungry mercenaries with
small packets of redpetal and moon lavender,
candied ginger and dried passionfruit.

"We could have stood them off,"
Ari said staunchly.

"Of course," said Navish,
"and if I'd been without you,
they might have taken everything.
This way, though, they may get a taste
for finer things in life than the point of a sword."

Ari could not argue with that,
and Shahana smiled
to see the girl thinking it over.

When they parted company with the caravan,
they took with them a small box of spices.
It was a good thing to have, for eating and trading;
Shahana and Ari were grateful for such bounty.

They took also their memories,
and small fragrant mementos
of the epicurean caravan.

Shahana kept a stick of cinnamon
long after it had done all it could for her tea,
folded into a scrap of fabric.
Ari retained a single star of anise
among her tiny collection of keepsakes,
threaded on a bit of yarn to make a necklace.

Sometimes, when the harsh world wore them down,
they would take out these touchstones
and remember the sweetness
of hope for better days.

* * *

Notes:

Navish has rather sneakily handed out free samples of spices with a calming quality.

Tags: , , , , , , ,
Current Mood: busy busy

10 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
From: siliconshaman Date: April 18th, 2013 10:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, food for thought. Note to self: In the advent of a complete collapse of civilisation, reserve a corner of garden to grow spices and herbs.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 19th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

So much of this setting is messed up, I wanted to show one of the bits that wasn't.

Also, spices can make even marginally edible food a lot more appealing.
From: siliconshaman Date: April 19th, 2013 09:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Hence the invention of curry...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 20th, 2013 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

From: technoshaman Date: April 23rd, 2013 04:43 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Oooers! Vanilla in the limeade! that should be interesting...

So what *was* he handing out? Lavender? mint? My usual sleep-concoction is lavender, chamomile, valerian, catnip... but the middle two I hadn't heard of as flavourings, though chamomile *tea* is very common...

ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 23rd, 2013 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> So what *was* he handing out? Lavender? mint? My usual sleep-concoction is lavender, chamomile, valerian, catnip... but the middle two I hadn't heard of as flavourings, though chamomile *tea* is very common... <<

Redpetal is a zippy spice particular to this setting; I was inspired by saffron (which is made from stamens) and dried red poppy petals. Moon lavender is a fantasy variation of lavender, and lavender is a soothing herb in general.

Ginger is listed as a warming, calming herb. Passionflower is another herbal sedative; the fruit has some of the same characteristics.

It's all less obvious than chamomile, which a lot of people would spot.
From: technoshaman Date: April 23rd, 2013 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

POPPIES! *laughter* Poppies will make them sleeeeeeep! *cackle*

Passionfruit, calming? Huh. Today I have learnt something.

Ginger and I are old friends... first put that to serious good use after a nasty bout of seasick... ginger ale and some crackers and a couple hours with a *steady* deck under my feet, and I was right as rain...
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: April 23rd, 2013 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>> POPPIES! *laughter* Poppies will make them sleeeeeeep! *cackle* <<

Redpetal is subtle, though. Most people are distracted by the peppery taste and think it's invigorating. What it actually does is shift the response threshold, making it less likely for people to bother doing something about whatever annoys them.

>>Passionfruit, calming? Huh. Today I have learnt something. <<

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2011/11/a-passion-fruit-a-day-makes-you-sleep-better/
http://twhite94.hubpages.com/hub/Why-Passion-Fruit
http://www.frutasdelmundo.inriodulce.com/Passionfruit.html

>>Ginger and I are old friends... first put that to serious good use after a nasty bout of seasick... ginger ale and some crackers and a couple hours with a *steady* deck under my feet, and I was right as rain...<<

I'm very fond of candied ginger. Okay, fond of ginger in any form really.

mdlbear From: mdlbear Date: January 13th, 2015 05:07 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

My favorite remedy for sore throat is ginger sliced very thin and steeped in hot water to make ginger tea. Add honey and a little lemon. Any filk con Colleen has worked at will have a ginger root on hand in the con suite.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 13th, 2015 09:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Lemon tea works very well too. That's what the activists I grew up with kept on hand for people who wore out their voices chanting.
10 comments or Leave a comment