“What do you mean, you need two weeks’ notice for a whole pig? It’s a pig – you walk out and kill it, scald it, scrape it, and then it’s ready. A job of an afternoon at most.”
<incoherent noises on the other side of a phone>
“Well, what can you get me today? Something suitable for a feast.”
<more noises> I sighed, mentally readjusting my plans and recipes. I can do this.
“Fine, I’ll take four whole prime ribs, all the whole chickens you have, and the pork shoulders. I’ll send my sla-” I caught myself just in time, “assistant to pick them up. Two hours. Yes, thank you.”
I tapped the “end call” button, and sighed again. “Te Iuppiter dique omnes perdant,” I muttered, thinking of the butcher. May Jupiter and all the gods damn you. “The man is an outright thief.”
I had accepted that a good deal of the ingredients I needed either went extinct (naughty humans, overharvesting like that) or aren’t made anymore, but the thing that never failed to vex me was the difficulty in finding good meat and fish. I couldn’t find sturgeon for love nor money, and eels were exorbitantly priced. Bones, though, were still cheap by modern standards, and I had a pile of them roasting away in the lovely huge commercial ovens that I had demanded as my price from Zeus. If I was going to be something as mundane as an executive caterer, I was going to have the finest equipment to work with.
The kitchen was at least coming along. I had managed through dint of subtle bribes (dear Heph does love his berry tarts) to get my sound system set up through some minions of his, and he had worked through a couple of nights to get my cauldrons and gridirons finished. It was time to start working for real.
I knelt by the huge bronze brazier that I had preserved since the fall of the Roman Empire and took a deep breath before striking flint and steel. I had never truly let the fire go out, just moved it elsewhere.
A few tiny sparks fell into a tangle of greasy wool (I had gathered it from the thorn bushes where the sheep grazed on Mount Olympus) and smoked. I breathed out, channeling my divinity in a way that I hadn’t done for close to fifteen hundred years, and the smouldering specks burst into warm, golden flames, far bigger than a tiny twist of wool should be able to support.
Scooping up the nascent blaze into my bare hands, I brought the flames close to my face and breathed again. The yellow-gold flames twisted and spun around themselves, revealing a core of searing white-hot plasma. That would do nicely. I whispered a blessing over the little ball of sunlight in my hand, and gently laid it on its bed of olive wood gathered from the wild places of Mount Olympus. My fire was once again burning in the brazier of the gods, and I’m not going to lie, it felt amazing. I stood up and stretched for the first time in ages. It was good to have things as they should be.
When Hephaestus’ minions had set up my sound system for me, they had cleverly hidden the speakers in the high corners of the walls and in the floor as well, out of the way of everything. I pressed the button on the wall, and the drums began to play, shaking the floor like in the old festival days. I closed my eyes and felt the beats get into my blood. I picked up my knives and went to work.
Wicked-sharp steel slides cleanly through meat and fat, carving away the best pieces. The crack of a heavy blade cleaving a roasted bone, and the rich smell of roasted marrow fills the air. Herbs grace the breeze from the window, thrown open with a gesture, and leap into the bubbling cauldron. People were going to be hungry, in more ways than one, now that the divine fire was back, and the Hearthfire would be there to feed them.