All previous disclaimers apply.
Fast Fod Fiction: Seishun Gakuen
"Ah, Fuji, Momo! There you are. We were starting to worry a bit," was Oishi's greeting as Fuji Yumiko drove off from the café in town. Everyone else, including Horio, Kachiro and Katsuo – made personal assistants to Inui and therefore valid for invitations to dinner – was already there in several degrees of dressed formality.
At least no one was wearing a tie, noted Momo. Still, all of them were dressed more formally than they normally would because Ryuzaki-sensei had been kind enough to donate her lucky draw grand prize to the tennis team: a special certificate entitling them to one free meal for any amount of people at a particular restaurant downtown. A particular, expensive restaurant that required some dressing up. According to Oishi-fukubuchou, it would be a good opportunity to boost team camaraderie and morale. Therefore, here they all were.
"Sorry for making you wait," replied Fuji, looking over at everyone. "Ah, Ryuzaki and Osakada, don't you two look lovely tonight?"
Sakuno and Tomoka respectively blushed and cheerily thanked their senior for the compliment. Momoshiro made haste to second Fuji's observations, not-so-subtly nudging Ryoma to do the same. The latter merely muttered what sounded like a "mada mada" and seemed to miss the presence of his cap.
"Let's go," were the simple words of the captain, recognizing the beginnings of what would be a free-for-all teasing session since Eiji was opening his mouth to join in the cajoling and Tomoka was fawning over the non existent compliment Ryoma had just paid them. It would never end and they'd never get to eat.
It took a while but eventually Tezuka did get the message across to the maitre d' that a party of fourteen would require seating.
The man, accustomed to fur coated women and men who oozed the very air of money, eyed the entire group of young, rambunctious and not likely to have the air of money, teenagers dubiously.
Of course, there were certain exceptions to the rule, now that the maitre d' remembered just who had graced his restaurant the week before. But those exceptions were few and far between.
So until these young people could come up with some kind of reason for being here or some kind of proof that they were tied to the young (and fabulously rich) Atobe Keigo, he would have to handle the riff raff.
"You do realize, sir that this is a… uh… rather exclusive dining establishment."
Tezuka carefully measured the lifting of his eyebrow. "We have… this."
A piece of the, to the maitre d who eyed it with dismayed resignation, unfortunate paper that indeed confirmed they would be able to dine at the restaurant, for free no less, was held up.
"Ah, very well then. Right this way, ladies and gentlemen…"
As the maitre d' watched the fourteen teenagers tumble, scramble and basically surge their way inside, he sighed deeply. While it wasn't very likely, he prayed his shift would be over before they caused any chaos that might cost him his job.
"What's up with the multiple knives? Do they expect us to kill someone with these things?"
"Momo, please lower your voice…! And those are for different meats and fish. Eiji, before you ask, the forks serve the same purpose."
"I don't see the point of having so much stuff to use! It's just MEAT. You stick a fork in it, you cut it up with the knife, you pop it in your mouth! Simple stuff!"
"What was that, mamushi!?"
"BOOR, you idiot. BOOR."
"What's THAT supposed to mean!?"
"It means you don't have any proper dining table manners, dammit!"
"And I suppose you're Queen Elizabeth herself, ya great big know it all!?"
In addition to the appalled stares they were receiving from the other diners, both second years also got the full force of Tezuka-buchou's Patented Glare of Steel and Laser Beams Designed to Slice Titanium and Diamond. It was like pure magic – they sat down and shut up. Albeit trying to kill each other via respective glares of hatred and indignity but they were silent.
…for all of ten minutes, but then that's a different story.
Eiji looked glumly at the utensils that sat so innocently before him. He could have sworn he heard his crystal glass of pure Evian mineral water snicker mockingly in his face for his lack of experience around… "rich people eating patterns."
"Ne, Oishi… which fork am I supposed to use?"
"That one, Eiji," pointed out his doubles partner helpfully.
"But that's only if you're ordering red meat," pointed out Sakuno, just as equally eager to be helpful to her senpai. "If you're eating fish, then you use that one to the right."
Oishi nodded approvingly. "That's right. However, if you're eating vegetables, then it's okay to use the meat fork, I think. That one's for dessert, since it's smaller…"
The vice captain trailed off, noticing the very glazed over look in Eiji's eyes. "Uh… why don't you just use the meat fork for everything then? No one's going to scold you at this table if you use the wrong fork."
Taka-san looked as equally lost when the menus eventually arrived. While Horio instructed Ryoma, Katsuo and Kachiro in the ways of choosing the right food to eat at an exclusive Western restaurant that served purely French, Italian and German dishes, Tomoka loudly contesting everything he said and Sakuno busy trying to get her friend to turn down her volume, the apprentice sushi chef wished fervently for something familiar to jump out and save him from gastronomic hell.
"Uh… does anyone know how to order…?"
Just at that moment, Horio spoke up with such authority that it almost matched that of Momoshiro's when he first claimed doubles were his specialty.
"I'm telling you: you guys ought to follow my lead and order this… this…" there was a quick check of the menu. "As-car-got! I'm tellin' you: it's a French delicacy and it's a real CRIME if you guys don't get it while you're here!"
"But, Horio-kun-" began Kachiro rather tentatively.
Horio was not about to be put off. He proceeded to bulldoze over his peer's hesitant suggestions that perhaps he might not be all that correct since the guy couldn't even get a decent grade for English much less French. "Well, if you guys wanna miss out on something great, go ahead. I'M gonna order that is-carg-ot and have a good time. Don't come crying to me when you find your stuff doesn't taste half as delicious!"
Kachiro and Katsuo exchanged looks before glancing at Ryoma. Taka-san who had been listening with one ear, also glanced over at the young tennis player.
Ryoma merely looked up from where he'd been perusing the menu (and ignoring Horio), beckoned the waiter over and placed his order for a German sausage platter.
"I'll have what he's having," said Kachiro and Katsuo immediately.
"Make that four," said Taka-san quickly in relief.
Horio was mightily offended. Even more so when the girls decided to have the fettuccine and spaghetti instead of his recommendation.
"Chickens! You just don't know how to appreciate good food!" He turned imperiously to the waiter. "I'll have the… the… that French Essy thing!"
The waiter's pen hovered over his notepad. Having had several years' experience in the field of taking orders, his brain took a few seconds to process what this strange customer was attempting to order. "….does sir mean the escargot?"
"Yes! The ass-cart-go!"
The waiter duly noted the order, tuning out his ears to what he thought the customer might have said and the other restaurant patrons who knew English well, turning to glare disapprovingly at the very rude and obviously uncouth teenager.
When he reached Inui on the other hand, it was like a different yet more bizarre world. The waiter was questioned on the texture, cooking method, and nutrition information on the sole filet cooked in mushroom sauce. And whatever he was able to answer was all calmly taken down in a green notebook.
"Hmmm… there's a rough calculation of 75.3 satisfaction with this meal, compared to the 68.2 if I choose the roast canard. Yes, the sole filet it is."
"Very good, sir."
"Oh, and some blue cheese. For dessert."
Fuji looked up at that, looking straight at Inui who didn't give away any hint of what he was thinking.
The genius smiled. "I didn't know you liked blue cheese too, Inui. I was about to order that."
Now, the dim light of the restaurant seemed to gleam off the data man's glasses. "And now?"
"I think I might just go through with it." The smile widened. By an inch. "One can't have too much blue cheese after all."
Tezuka, who'd just finished ordering South German spatzle, gave both Inui and Fuji a warning look. He knew about the qualities of blue cheese. Both returned expressions of a poker face and a placid smile. The captain resigned himself to a small sigh, knowing full well that before the evening was through, they'd be banned from this restaurant for the rest of their lives.
He might as well have one last good meal before it happened.
"Um, I'll have the… this uh… this thing here."
The waiter looked over Eiji's shoulder at where he was pointing at the menu and promptly nodded, scribbling busily on his order taking pad. Oishi decided to go for the couscous and after he'd ordered, made sure everyone else had ordered too, he smiled and said yes, that would indeed be all. After a repetition of the orders that only the vice captain paid attention to, the waiter hurried off to the kitchen.
It was certainly an eclectic mix of orders…
There was as much peace as could be expected (Momo attempted to toss a bread roll at Ryoma, missed completely and instead it bounced off Tomoka on the nose. He was given a reprimanding look from Oishi who insisted food shouldn't be used in that manner and it could poke someone's eye out. "But it's a bread roll," repeated Momo in confusion) before the food arrived.
Fuji looked up from his ravioli and smiled widely. "Well done, Eiji. I think you ordered the goose foie gras."
Eiji stared at the dish in front of his eyes. "Goose? Fu-wa? Gra?"
"Goose foie gras. It's an expensive French gourmet treat."
"….expensive?" squeaked Eiji again, eyes going wider. "Goose? L, like the one in the English nursery rhymes?"
Fuji smiled. "Just try it, Eiji. I'm sure you'll enjoy it."
Hesitantly, and slowly, Eiji picked up a fork and poked it experimentally.
It didn't move. That was a good sign.
He cut a tiny bit out. Still not moving.
Eiji bravely took a bite and chewing with his eyes squeezed shut, found that the taste was… delicious. Very delicious in fact.
"Hey, this is good! It's real smooth and kinda just melts in your mouth…!"
With much gusto, Eiji dove into his meal with many comments on the excellent taste and how he'd never expected goose foie gras to taste so good (the fact that he'd never expected anything from it was irrelevant.)
At the other end of the table, where Katsuo and Kachiro were complimenting Ryoma on his choice of food (and thanking their lucky stars that they were wise enough to follow the tennis prince), and Taka-san was wondering if there could ever be a blend of sauerkraut sushi, Sakuno happened to look up from her spaghetti Bolognese.
"Oh, Horio-kun, your food hasn't come yet?"
Horio puffed up his chest. "Of course it hasn't. Is-cart-got takes a long time to prepare, don'tcha know? It's gonna taste like Heaven."
Tomoka just rolled her eyes since her mouth was full of fettuccine.
Just then, Momoshiro who'd taken a few bites already of his steak au poivre nodded in slow approval. "Yeah, this ain't bad, ain't bad at all… it's missing something though…" There were a few more seconds of thoughtful chewing before his mental light bulb shone with enlightenment. "Oh, I know! Waiter!"
A suited waiter duly sauntered over. "Yes sir?"
"Could I have some ketchup?"
The placid expression on the waiter's face froze. "…sir wants… ketchup."
Momoshiro nodded happily, blissfully ignorant of the grievous insult he'd just inflicted within a gourmet restaurant. And the appalled look on Oishi's face, the twitch of Tezuka's eyebrow and the mild frown of Inui. "Yeah, ketchup. Y'know, tomato sauce?"
The second year raised an eyebrow. "Ket-chup. To-ma-to sauce. Sauce that comes from squished tomatoes."
In a daze, the waiter nodded and headed to the kitchen. Behind him, Momoshiro looked confusedly at his companions. "What's with that guy? Anyone knows what ketchup is."
Oishi resisted palming his forehead. "Momo, you just insulted this restaurant. More specifically, the chefs."
Kaidoh glowered at his fellow second year, determined now to list Momoshiro Takeshi as the King of Morons Who Shouldn't Be Alive Due To Utter Stupidity in his personal inventory of people, as he took a spoonful of cream of mushroom soup. "Idiot."
"What?! I didn't say NOTHIN' about this restaurant! WHEN did I insult anyone?!" demanded Momoshiro indignantly.
"In a gourmet restaurant, if one orders ketchup or chili sauce, it's an insult to the chef because it implies that the chef is incapable of making the food taste excellent on its own without help from other foreign sauces," explained Inui, pushing his glasses upwards slightly. "In other words, it'd be like saying your Dunk Smash is good but not good enough to beat… oh say… Dan Taichi from Yamabuki. With all due respect to Dan-san."
There was a LONG, very long, silence. The kind where there is no dialogue, only the clinking of cutlery against porcelain plates.
Eventually, there was some response from a very pale Momoshiro.
While Momoshiro entertained thoughts of an irate chef wielding a cleaver, like that one in that western cartoon about a mermaid and her crab friend, Horio's meal had just arrived. On a silver tray with a gleaming silver cover.
Beaming insufferably smugly at his friends as the tray was set down, Horio looked down just as the domed cover was taken away.
And eyes that were already wide, became even wider. Perhaps not to the size of saucepans but considerably wide enough to make Taka-san, Kachiro and Katsuo feel even more grateful that they had followed Ryoma's choice of cuisine.
For there, swimming in sauce on a pristine white porcelain plate, were… shells. Snail shells.
"… wh… what… is this?" squeaked the One of Two Years Tennis Experience.
"Escargot, sir. As you ordered," informed the server ever so helpfully before walking away, job thought done.
"Oh, you and Eiji must share some kind of hidden taste for expensive food we never knew about, Horio," commented Fuji calmly as he delicately wiped his mouth. "Snails are just as much a delicacy as stuffed goose liver."
There were two simultaneous chokes.
"Stuffed goose liver?!"
Fuji practically beamed. "Both are regarded as the pinnacle of French cuisine, you know. I commend the two of you on your excellent taste."
Eiji didn't have time to complete his expression of disgust as he shoved his chair back and sprinted for the men's restroom, perhaps beating even Kamio Akira's record. Horio looked limply at his meal of land snails and bemoaned his fate.
And while all that was going on, a chef of the restaurant, dressed in his white uniform and a tall hat, burst the double doors open, spluttering in Japanese with a heavy French accent. The waiters and assistant cooks tried to restrain him but a chef scorned was a chef on a mission: a mission to find his insulter and demand justice. If necessary, with a heavily applied rolling pin or a long, sharp bread knife.
The insulter he was looking for was currently hiding under the table, begging Taka-san and Sakuno not to say anything.
"VHERE IZ HE?! Vhere iz ze one who inzultz my cookeeng?!"
"Ahh, sir, forgive the interruption, but your orders of blue cheese are here…"
Inui took a whiff. Fuji took a whiff.
The entire table got a whiff.
"PHEW, Inui-senpai, what did you ORDER?!" exclaimed Tomoka in audible disgust. "It smells like that Chinese Smelly Tofu!!"
"Or like something that died in the smelly tofu," dryly commented Ryoma from his end of the table with a pinched nose and a frown.
"VHHAT!? Zomeone DAREZ to inzult ze culinary skeellz of Chef Von Pierre?!" The chef who now had murder most foul in his eyes, stormed coldly up to the offending table. "How dare you… you… uneducated CHEELDREN inzult me?! Out, I say! OUT of my restaurant!"
The German and Italian chefs were by his side, both doing their best to placate their very insulted colleague. "Von Pierre, please, calm down…"
"I VILL NOT CALM DOWN! CHEF VON PIERRE ZHALL NOT CALM DOWN UNTIL HE ZEEZ JUZTEECE DONE!!"
Tezuka calmly put his napkin down and despite the angry shouting that had now turned into complete French expletives, spoke to the waiter. "Please pack that escargot as quickly as you can. We are leaving since almost everyone has finished." He turned to the others. "Fuji, Inui, wrap up that cheese if you want. Oishi, get Eiji from the bathroom. Momoshiro, get out from under the table. Horio, you're on ball collecting duty for three weeks."
Those who were mentioned moved to their tasks. The others who were not, got out of their chairs and headed for the exits like they were in a fire drill exercise. There were no protests.
Except for Chef Von Pierre who demanded this uneducated child know his place and not talk out of turn to people who knew better.
Tezuka regarded the aggrieved chef with his Newly Patented Tezuka Kunimitsu Glare of Long Suffering Patience That Will Soon Snap If Some People Didn't Keep Quiet Soon And Then You Will Know Pain.
Chef Von Pierre shut up.
"Now this is a good place to eat. No crazy chefs, no snooty waiters, no strange food…"
Momoshiro breathed in deep, as if inhaling the good old reliable scent of fast food as they approached one of the more popular joints in Seishun.
"Just good old fashioned chicken and fries."
Everyone else somehow found it in themselves to agree. Fuji and Inui had to be sworn not to open up their serviette wrapped cheese before they went in.
And were met by an appalling scene of what had appeared to be a gastronomic catastrophe. Someone had apparently really not liked the food. They saw remnants of coleslaw, mashed potatoes, chicken… even burger buns and shreds of cabbage were all over the floor, tables, chairs and even splattered against the window. The staff was busy with mops, brooms and wet cloths, most with tired, resigned and irritated expressions on their faces.
The manager stepped up apologetically. "I'm terribly sorry but we're closed for the time being."
"…what happened?" asked Oishi concernedly.
There was a long sigh. "Some junior high kids started a food fight and before you knew it, the whole place is empty and a complete mess." He held up an envelope. "Although we did find some compensation after the entire thing ended… in any case, thank you for your would be-patronage."
"Ahhh, you're welcome. Good luck," replied Oishi before the entire team turned and walked away, wondering who those junior high school kids could have been.
And, to Tezuka's chagrin, they themselves had been extremely close to that kind of explosive situation.
He sighed. If he had to bet, Yukimura, Sanada, Tachibana… even Atobe wouldn't have this kind of problems.
Then again, thought Tezuka, he wasn't a betting man to begin with.
A/N:No offense meant to any formal restaurants or the French, whether chefs or not. This was all in the name of humour, and I know for a fact that there are plenty of nice French people and perfectly well mannered French chefs out there. Thus, I thank you for your good humour and your patience.