Author: Frodo Baggins of Bag End (FBoBE/"Febobe")
Title: Bite Nor Sup
Pairing/Characters: Sam, Frodo. Brief references to other canon characters.
Warnings: Does heavy-on-the-food-descriptions count?
Summary: Along the Quest, Sam muses about matters of food and life. . .and, particularly, his master. Kind of bookverse, but could be read either way, I suppose.
BITE NOR SUP: Sam's Musings
Bree to Weathertop
The rations are fair scarce enough, and I know it's wearing on you. O'course, missing proper meals wears at any hobbit, as it does at all four of us, but I think it wears on you specially, what with the Ring and all. You need extra nourishment now, if anything, and instead you're shorted. Must be hard, having grown up the way you did, too. Even at our table, there was always food enough to go around, specially when it was just me and the Gaffer and Mari. But Mr. Bilbo always looked after you right proper, he did, once you came to Bag End, that much I know. I never saw you but you didn't have a penny in your pocket for sweets, and there's always a place in Hobbiton to buy 'em.
And I can't help wondering. . .
Since you came to live with him, is this the first thing that he ain't somehow been able to fix?
Yfelwyd - Weathertop to Rivendell
You won't eat near nothing, and it fair breaks my heart - only you'll swallow a little ginger tea for me, 'cause it warms you a little, I expect. I can't get you to eat a bite o'bread nor dried fruit, not even the apples, your favourites, and that worries me that you're a sight more sick than even Mr. Strider's letting on. All I can get you to take are those little sups of warm ginger tea, and the rest you won't touch, and I know that's only going to make you grow weaker, 'cause Mam always said if there was one thing an ailing body needed, it was good food and plenty of it, whatever they could keep down.
That's part of the problem, ain't it?
Out here in the Wild there's no place to fix nothing proper - no chicken broth, no mushroom soup, no soft-cooked eggs cracked over buttered toast pieces in a little bowl. I'll warrant something like that'd tempt you assuming we were back home and I could fix it for you.
But we're a long ways from home, Mr. Frodo.
I won't say but as it's a right fine sight to see you *eating* again, and eating proper - good hot chicken broth, and toasted white bread with a nice bit o'butter, and just a little dish o'stewed apple, and a proper coddled egg, with tea thinned out with milk and sweetened with sugar, just the way you like it. You're getting better, and no mistake. Best to eat up, now, and get strong.
That food'll make you better now, master. It will.
They want to make the Ringbearer happy.
So they serve you up rich mushroom soup, all nice and creamy, your favourite. . .roast chicken. . .mashed taters besides, with mushroom gravy to try and tempt your appetite. . .glazed carrots. . .more baked mushrooms than I've ever seen in my life. . .apple pie with a fine lattice top. . .cranberry-apple pie, hobbit-fashion, must've learnt that from old Mr. Bilbo. . .and a whole host of other things; those are just the ones I see you accept some of when they try to coax you into eating. It don't take so much these days as it did, but I can tell your heart's hurting; you move like some puppet with your strings being pulled, without no joy nor life in the movement.
All the same, I try and soothe another dish of mashed taters and mushroom gravy with carrots and mushrooms down you.
Goodness knows there's not nothing else I can do.
You don't eat as much as you should, not without my gentling you into it and coaxing and prodding like a mother with a stubborn child. But when I do, you'll eat up, make every last crumb vanish, not only the dried fruit that you eat without my pressing. I think you're worried; you seem anxious all the time. It's right hard to eat when you're that worried, specially about something so big. But you need to keep up your strength.
You've got to.
Master, you need to take some food.
The elves have nice enough stuff for us - it's not home, but it's nice - bread and wine and fruit, and a slice o'bread and some sups o'wine would do you a sight more good than sitting there staring out into the wood like you have for the past half hour steady now. There are apples, your favourite - you could try one o'those.
I miss him too. But. . .
Master, it weren't your fault.
The Emyn Muil
It's cold here, and dreary, gets right into your bones. What I wouldn't give to be back in the kitchen at Bagshot Row or up at Bag End making a great pot o'tater soup. But there ain't no kitchen here, nor no taters, come to that, and wishing don't do nobody no good nohow. Naught to make a fire with, naught to cook, not even grass!
What *will* do you good, Mr. Frodo, is some o'that what d'you call 'em, lembas. It's something to eat, at any rate, and I reckon there's a sight more good in it than we know. Take a wafer and eat up. 'Twill do you good.
Too thin and drawn, he is. Not right for a hobbit at all.
He oughta be tucked up in bed, with a proper breakfast on in the kitchen - thick slices of white bread toasted lightly just the way he likes them, buttered real nice, served up with marmalade in them little crystal dishes Mr. Bilbo had at Bag End that I always used to fix Mr. Frodo's first breakfast in after he was master. And eggs - scrambled up with butter, or made into an omelet, with plenty o'mushrooms cooked up in a skillet either way. Not to mention nice crispy bacon, fried done to a turn, and porridge, made real smooth with a dusting of cinnamon and brown sugar over top so's he'll eat it up.
Oh, he'll eat this up, I'm sure.
But it ain't proper.
Do you remember that last party Mam gave, Mr. Frodo? Roast chicken, all tender and juicy, baked with taters and carrots and mushrooms. . .and her special rolls, the tops brushed with a bit o'butter just so. . .and blackberry cobbler and apple cobbler, fruit bubbling out the sides and tops. She was so proud o'that party, wanted to invite the Master down for a proper dinner. And some gentlehobbits would've turned their noses up at that, but not you - you brought wine and complimented her on everything, and didn't turn down seconds, which would've been rude. And we all laughed and talked and had a grand old time - remember?
Mr. Frodo, I'd give anything to be back in Mam's kitchen with two platefuls of that food right now. One for each of us. I'll warrant you could eat her cobbler, as poorly as you're feeling. . .or some mushrooms, cooked up proper.
Just you keep choking down that waybread best ways you can. It'll get us where we need to go. I know it ain't Mam's cobbler, but it's the best I can do.
Mr. Frodo's favourite chicken and mushroom soup.
Green beans fresh from the garden, cooked with a nice bit o'ham or streaky bacon for flavour.
Eggs and bacon of a morning, fried so the eggs look like eyes and the bacon's nice and crispy.
Chicken and mushroom pie, with a nice golden crust.
Poor Mr. Frodo. He hasn't even got these things - the memories - to keep him. Whether it hurts or no, I'd rather remember. Gives me something pleasant to think on, leastways.
Fresh strawberries with cream.
Almost like after you woke in Rivendell, it is, broth and bread, and I never thought I'd be so pleased to see such a simple meal in all my days. But I'm right glad of it, for both our sakes, even though I don't half know whether to wolf it down or savour it nice and slow. I'd rather savour it nice and slow, I think. Always tastes better that way, and then you won't be sorry for it later, my Gaffer always said.
But watching you right near breaks my heart. You struggle for a moment to use your other hand, your poor injured hand still too hurt for even this task, until Gandalf gently reaches for you. You look as if you might go to tears as he sets you down in his great lap, pulling your meal closer, then spoons up a bit o'the broth and coaxes you with it.
That first mouthful is almost too much for me to watch, and I pretend I'm paying too much attention to tearing off a piece o'my own bread to watch. But the whole time I'm holding my breath. Holding my breath until you swallow and open your mouth for another bite.
I think it's water I'm a sight more glad to see than aught else, master, but I can't say as I'm sorry to see all that food. All the great feasts, and - best of all - them trays Strider - I mean King Elessar - has sent up in the mornings for first breakfast. It does my heart good, it does, to see you, eyes all heavy with sleep, spreading orange marmalade over thick slices of hot buttered toast, and eating segments o'them - oranges, they're called, just like the colour. Right pretty they are, and I think you could fair live on the juice the way you drink down every last sup in the mornings.
Makes my heart want to sing.