NOTES: Written for the 'Food/Architecture' challenge on the LJ community sgaflashfic.
The Art Of Food
It started with the mashed potatoes.
These things always did.
Okay, so it started with mashed potatoes and a discussion about whether or not they could be used for artistic sculpture.
Sergeant Marianne Halding thought they could, and demonstrated with 'the Venus de Potato'. Dr. Brad Mallory promptly speared Venus through the rather flabby back and reclaimed his potatoes, much to the dismay of Sergeant Halding and the hilarity of the table.
Teyla was regarding the antics with complete mystification when Rodney glanced up see what the noise was about. He'd sat down to lunch but was soon engrossed in reading the power reports on their attempts to revive the chairs. Teyla didn't mind when he didn't talk to her, which made her the perfect lunch partner. She was a good lunch companion that way. Rodney could keep silent - or not, as he preferred - and didn't usually find himself either having to listen to her ramble the way he did with Sheppard, or having to answer questions all the time.
"What are they doing?"
Okay, so maybe he did have to answer some questions. But he could give brief answers and she'd go back to considering what he'd told her. "It looks like they're being silly."
He didn't need to look up to know that her eyes were upon him. "You have never made things out of your food?"
"No, because I eat it. That's what food is for."
"I have heard tell of cultures where the preparation of food is an art," Teyla said. "Not here in Pegasus, but from your world."
Rodney regarded the table of military personnel who were perhaps a minute away from a full-blown food-fight. All that needed to happen was for someone to fling the first forkful. "Yes, well, that's not art. That's just silliness." And to prove his point, he took a forkful of 'let's-pretend-it's-beef' stroganoff and ate it.
He returned to his notes, but was aware of the contemplative quality of Teyla's silence, even as he steadfastly ignored it.
Rodney sagged a little. Damn. He'd hoped to get through this paper tonight. "Sheppard, if you don't mind, Teyla and I are busy."
"Teyla and you are busy?" John had the audacity to sound surprised. "Teyla, are you busy."
"I am eating lunch with Dr. McKay," she replied. "I do not know if that counts."
Chair legs scraped against the floor as John dragged out the chair beside Rodney and plonked himself down in it. "Not when you've been staring at the next table over since I walked in the room. What's so interesting next door?" John craned his neck as he set out his things.
"They are using their food to create art," Teyla explained.
"Teyla, it's not 'art' by any stretch of the imagination," Rodney said with exasperation. "It's just...being silly."
"Just being silly?" John asked. "I take it you've never felt the joy that comes from the creation of a miniature Capitol Hill out of baked potatoes and beans?"
Teyla fought back a laugh. Rodney turned to John with a scowl. "As a matter of fact, no."
"Well, then, you're missing out," John deadpanned as he began scooping out his beans. The man ate his food backwards: the parts he didn't like first and the parts he liked last. Rodney had never bothered with that. "You know, you should try it."
"What? Building a Stargate out of mashed potatoes and green beans? No, thank you."
"At the least, you could try for a naquadah generator," John said, giving Teyla a wink.
"Sheppard, I'm not going to--" Rodney paused as there was a cheer from the next table over.
Dr. Mallory was putting the finishing touches on an Eiffel tower of mashed potatoes as Sergeant Halding took a toothpick and fashioned a little French flag out of a napkin and various juices to stick at the top.
Then they hummed the French national anthem, grinning like idiots. Rodney hadn't thought it was possible to hum with a French accent, but somehow Mallory managed it.
John nudged Rodney. "See? It's all in good fun."
"It's a waste of perfectly good food."
"Good. Fun." John emphasised.
Teyla had her elbow on the table and her hand over her mouth. Her eyes tilted with laughter as she looked from Rodney to John and back to Rodney again.
In the face of her mirth, Rodney felt distinctly put out.
"Right. Well, let's see you sacrifice your dinner to build something, then!"
"All right, then!" John stared down at his largest plate for a moment, then began rearranging the bits and pieces on the plate.
Rodney rolled his eyes at Teyla, who just smiled at him and leaned her head against her hand, the better to see what John was doing. Finding no sympathy there, he went back to reading his notes, checking the status of the 'artwork' every few paragraphs.
John was on a roll - especially since he had an audience. Out of the corner of his eye, Rodney saw the other man glancing at Teyla and grinning, looking surprisingly boyish as he did. He went back to his paperwork, shaking his head. Give a pilot an audience and they began grandstanding. It was all that ego.
The creation grew and spread, co-opting bits of carrot and a couple of beans as John rearranged chunks of not-beef and got gravy-dipped fingers which he licked without hesitation or shame. Then he took the small cup of extra gravy sauce and eased it carefully around the final structure.
Rodney stared at the miniature Atlantis floating in a sea of gravy on John's plate.
Teyla began to laugh, the echoes of her voice spreading through the room and drawing the attention of others to Sheppard's work. "Well done, Colonel."
"Thank you, Teyla." John turned to Rodney. "See? Art!"
Rodney glared. Okay, so the representation was pretty good. That didn't mean that it was art and he said as much when the people who'd wandered over to look went back to their chairs and tables, grinning away like idiots.
There was a second when John looked exasperated. Then he looked over at Teyla and shrugged. "Everyone's a critic."
He then picked up his fork.
"You're not going to eat it?"
"Do you have a suggestion for what I should do with it?"
Well, when put that way...
John dug into the southwestern 'arm' of the city and began telling Teyla about his other food sculpture exploits. Rodney sniffed and went back to his notes.
Sheppard could think what he liked about 'food sculpture'.
Rodney still thought it was silly.
- fin -