Chaos in the Kitchen
Disclaimer: Both Middle-earth and the characters in this story belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. I'm just interfering with them, and am not being paid for doing so.
"But, Erestor, I cannot cook!" wailed Glorfindel the Younger from where he stood in the doorway to the kitchen, poised to run.
"We shall see about that," said Erestor grimly, rolling up his sleeves and scowling at the pots and pans with determination, possibly hoping they would cook and clean by themselves. "I expect you to help me as best you can. The whole thing is your fault, after all."
"It was not I who threw a book at Lord Elrond's head," Glorfindel protested with righteous indignation.
"But I was not aiming at Lord Elrond, my dear Lord Glorfindel," said Erestor with great sarcasm."It is your fault for ducking," he added.He looked grim and determined for a moment, but then his will melted into a less than resolute puddle, and he whimpered, "How are we going to do this? I have not tried to cook anything for years!"
"Let us face the inevitable," suggested Glorfindel. "We are both just a stitch away from here, to there," he finished, with an eloquent gesture towards a large cooking pot.
Erestor gulped, but mastered himself. "Here, you light the fire, and I shall boil the water," he commanded, stepping bravely into the breach.
"What are we going to cook?" asked Glorfindel curiously, searching for flint and steel.
"I do not know," said Erestor, his tone morose. "I think we will be forced to invent food as we go along."
Glorfindel knocked the flint against the steel with a skill that surpassed that of most Dwarves. The tinder in the cold stone fireplace exploded into life. Glorfindel dropped his tools, sucking burnt fingers ruefully. He had frequent problems involving fire.
Erestor dragged a pot of water towards the stove and placed it heavily on top."That went well," he said cheerlessly. "I think we should mash some potatoes."
"Potatoes?" asked Glorfindel. "Lord Elrond never eats potatoes at this time of year!"
"He shall eat them today," said Erestor firmly.
"Very well. I shall of course blame you if anything goes wrong," Glorfindel said truthfully, reaching for a peeling knife.
Erestor took each potato as Glorfindel peeled it, and tossed it into the big pot, finally shoving a large lid over the top. "What else do you want to cook?"
"I think there's some lembas in the pantry," Glorfindel remarked, opening the door and staring into the small room desperately.
"No," said Erestor. "I insist on making a decent dinner. Lembas is too unoriginal."
"And burnt potatoes are not?" asked Glorfindel.
Elrond was both happy and extremely uneasy. He was happy because he was being left alone for once, and uneasy for the same reason. He could hardly enjoy the book he was reading for fear that at any minute Imladris would blow up. He drank another cup of vanilla tea in one gulp and stared across the room with wide, worried eyes. This was not good for him. Stress could turn any Elf-lord into a sniveling wreck.
When his young adopted son, Estel, strolled through the room, Elrond practically leapt on him. "Have you seen your brothers recently?" he demanded.
"No," Estel replied. He had an innocent look on his face.
"Have you seen Lord Erestor and Lord Glorfindel recently?" Elrond asked, terror evident in his eyes.
Estel shrugged. "No."
"Please tell me if you see them," Elrond begged.
"Sure," Estel answered, and sauntered out of the room, whistling.
Elrond picked up the book again with trembling hands. Stress was not good for him at all.
Glorfindel was preparing bread. Erestor was mashing the half-cooked potatoes. They were both becoming more and more irritable as time progressed. As they became more and more irritable, they become more and more violent, and the cooking became more and more chaotic. For example, the potatoes had been mashed within an inch of their lives.
Glorfindel kneaded the bread with narrowed eyes, savagely wrenching at it from time to time. "Are you sure you got the recipe right?" he asked.
The mashed potatoes were resembling a creamy pulp. Erestor added some more milk and butter. "Yes," he growled.
"It is beginning to set like cement," said Glorfindel.
Erestor added a heaping spoonful of salt to his concoction before tasting it. He grimaced. "You must be kneading the dough incorrectly," he said. "I wonder if potato porridge is original enough for Lord Elrond..."
"It was not Lord Elrond who wanted an 'original' dinner," said Glorfindel. He pushed the dough into a pan and put it into the oven.
About thirty minutes later, Glorfindel and Erestor had passed the Violent Stage, and moved on to the Alcohol Stage. A bottle stood empty, and several wineglasses were lying around furtively in corners. Glorfindel was past caring what happened to Elrond's special dinner. Erestor was very swiftly coming to that point himself.
"The bread has become a little burnt," said Glorfindel lazily. He removed the remains of the loaf from the pan.
To this Erestor said, "Oh well," and downed another glass of wine.
"What do we have so far?" asked Glorfindel.
"Mashed potatoes and bread," replied Erestor.
"Sounds like a meal one would feed a prisioner, not an Elf-lord," said Glorfindel.
Elladan and Elrohir stood outside the kitchen, wracked with convulsions of laughter.
"They are completely destroying the kitchen!" sniggered Elrohir. "Did you hear that?"
Elladan nodded. "Very amusing to listen to them."
"It is rather mean of us, you know," said Elrohir.
"I thought it was a good idea!" Elladan retorted.
"To tell them that father wanted them to make dinner?" Elrohir snorted. "They cannot cook! Listen to what is happening in there."
Elladan did. He sighed, shaking his head. "Should we tell them that we were joking?"
Elrohir's eyes widened. "Telling them that at this stage could be fatal. Think of all the knives in there."
"What happens when they serve the dinner to father?" said Elladan. "They will find out then."
"By that point, we will have fled the country," Elrohir decided.
Lindir hurried by. "An important guest from the Havens just arrived," he announced. "His name is Lord Galdor. He is looking for you."
"Oh, no!" cried Elladan. "But..."
"He plans to eat dinner with your family," said Lindir.
"I am going to bake a cake for dessert, and then I am leaving," said Erestor. "I am sick of trying to make this meal. It is impossible! I cannot even cook! Elrond will have to take it or leave it, but this is the best we could do."
Glorfindel nodded. "We tried," he said simply.
"What if he gets angry?" Erestor whimpered to himself. "What if he relegates us to dish-washing duty?"
"He would not do that to us," said Glorfindel. "We will give him his fancy dinner, and then leave Imladris for a long holiday. How is that? Anyway, what could he do to us?"
"A lot," moaned Erestor. He buried his head in his hands miserably. Glorfindel reached into the oven to pull out his new loaf of bread. He hoped it had not been burned.
Unfortunately, the cloth Glorfindel was holding caught on fire. His eyes widened in horror. "Erestor, I have set your robe on fire."
Erestor leapt to his feet like a scalded cat, which was partway true. "What were you doing with it?" he demanded, trying to put out the flames with a bucket of water.
"I was using it to take my bread out of the oven," Glorfindel said, stamping furiously. The fire was only spreading.
"This is all your fault," repeated Erestor, tearing off a bit of his long robe. "You are always playing with fire!"
Glorfindel snorted, momentarily pausing his frenzied activity. "I like that! I do not play with fire."
"Then how come you are always setting things on fire? Please do not tell me it is always accidental."
"But it is!"
The fire burned away merrily.
Galdor of the Havens was a rather strange Elf, with long brown hair and soft brown eyes like a puppy's. He was well known for his impatience, frequent attacks of paranoia, and ability to pull outrageous faces. Elladan and Elrohir greeted him, wearing identical expressions of forced happiness.
"Oh, Galdor, how nice to see you," said Elrohir in an joyless monotone.
Galdor looked the twins up and down. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"We are fine," said Elladan quickly.
"Just a little worried," Elrohir added. The two glanced at each other.
"Worried? Why?" asked Galdor, brushing off his cloak with quick fingers. "Is that smoke?"
"Smoke?" cried the twins in unison.
"I think I smell smoke," Galdor said. "Coming from over there."
Elladan and Elrohir heaved sighs of relief. "Oh, that is just the servants making dinner," said Elladan. "We do not need to worry about them."
"Of course not," Elrohir agreed. "It is just dinner. Servants are expendable, of course. Ha ha."
"You set your food on fire here?" Galdor wondered aloud, before changing the subject with careless diplomacy. "How is your father?"
"He is well," chorused the twins.
The three Elves walked through Imladris, Elladan and Elrohir desperately conversational, and Galdor rather preoccupied.
Finally he halted. "I am sure I smell smoke," he said resolutely.
"It is not smoke," said Elladan. "We have nothing to worry about."
"I suppose not," Galdor replied doubtfully.
At that very inopportune moment, someone yelled, "Fire!"
"I told you," said Galdor, no longer so diplomatic now that he had been proved correct.
The three Elves dashed down the hall, eventually reaching the kitchen door.
"Are you going in there?" asked Elladan hopelessly.
Elrohir shook his head.
"What will we do?" cried Elladan.
Elrohir made a quick decision. He locked the door and turned to Galdor. "It was nothing. Just a false alarm."
Someone was trying to kick the door down. Elrohir leaned against it nonchalantly. Galdor raised one eyebrow doubtfully.
"This happens all the time, really," said Elrohir.
"Someone locked the door!" cried Glorfindel, choking on the smoke. Erestor was still stamping. The fire was quite small, but still very inconvenient.
Erestor accidentally knocked Glorfindel's pan of bread into the blaze. It went up with a whoosh. Erestor leapt back. "I never knew bread was that flammable!"
"Only mine is," Glorfindel remarked dryly. "Shall we escape through the window?"
"We have to put this fire out first," Erestor said.
"At any cost?" Glorfindel asked.
Erestor nodded wanly.
Glorfindel sighed. "Then there is only one thing I can think to do."
Before Erestor could stop his friend, Glorfindel tipped the entire pot of liquid potatoes onto the fire. With a fizzle, the blaze went out.
"Why did you do that?" Erestor shouted. "That would have made some perfectly decent creamy potato soup!"
Glorfindel shrugged. "You said to put it out at any cost."
Erestor groaned. "Now what?"
"We could serve salad!" said Glorfindel happily. "All Elves like salad."
"Good idea," congratulated the advisor. "We could put in cheese and nuts and tomatoes."
Filled with joy, Erestor took a step towards the counter, slipped on the soup, and fell headlong out the window.
"Erestor?" asked Glorfindel, leaning out and looking down.
"I suppose I can pick the tomatoes," said Erestor, from where he sat in the vegetable patch.
Galdor pressed his pointy ear to the thick wooden kitchen door. "Are you sure they are all right? I can hear a lot of yelling."
"That is normal," said Elladan. "Very normal. And I cannot smell smoke any more."
"They will be fine." Elrohir smiled, his eyes filled with relief.
Elrond, Estel, Elladan, Elrohir, and Galdor sat around the table that evening. They were talking. Elrond was happy, because despite rumors of a fire, nothing serious had happened. Estel was hungry and bored. Elladan and Elrohir were worried. Galdor was becoming impatient.
"I am sorry, Lord Galdor," Elrond apologized. "I do not know where our chef has gone. Our dinner should arrive in a moment."
Even as he spoke, the door slammed open. Glorfindel and Erestor entered, looking rather burnt around the edges. They bore between them a huge cauldron of salad. All sorts of vegetables had been flung into it, as well as some nuts and berries and little pieces of cheese. Glorfindel served the startled Elves rapidly while Erestor lugged the pot around after him.
"What is this?" asked Elrond in horror.
"A caterpillar," Estel replied, pulling it from Elrond's portion. "I shall name it, 'Frond', after the salad."
" I meant, why are you two serving dinner?" asked Elrond faintly.
"Did you not ask for a special dinner?" asked Erestor, mortified.
"No." Elrond shook his head. "Who told you that?"
"El--" Erestor froze, shooting the twins such a deadly glare that they nearly wilted in terror.
"What?" wailed Glorfindel. "I wasted my entire afternoon trying to cook dinner that Lord Elrond did not even want?"
Galdor chuckled as he rooted through his 'salad', pulling out questionable bits of three leafed shrubbery. "Is this poison ivy?"
Glorfindel snatched it away quickly. "Of course not! Well, maybe..." His voice trailed away, and finally he simply chucked the leaves out the window. "We found it in the garden."
Erestor was still glaring at the twins. Suddenly he emptied the pot of salad over their heads.
Estel glanced up from where he was playing with Frond. "What did you do that for, Lord 'Restor?"
Glorfindel grabbed Erestor's hand and yanked him out of the room. "Sorry about that!" he yelled over his shoulder. "Enjoy your dinner!"
Galdor tumbled out of his seat, chortling merrily.
Elladan and Elrohir quickly evacuated the room, bits of leaves in their hair.
Elrond sighed, but a smile was beginning to creep across his face. "Actually," he said, around bursts of laughter, "this salad is quite good!"