I hold the strong belief that there needs to be more Greece/Egypt/Turkey Mediterranean love. If no one else is willing, I'll supply it to the internet myself!
Disclaimer: I do not own Hetalia.
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Stuffed Grape Leaves
To be quite honest, Sadiq had absolutely no idea what he was doing here, sitting on the couch in Gupta Muhammad's living room, stuffing grape leaves…Yes, grape leaves. Stuffed grapes leaves. Dolmas, as he called them. They were delicious, yes, the best damn food in the world, possibly, but still the question bugged him, Why the hell was he sittin' in da middle of Egypt making dolmas when it was freakin' 1,000,000 degrees outside??But, even more annoying than the fact that Gupta had invited him over for no other reason than to seemingly sit and cook with him, was the fact that he'd also secretly invited him to join , you know who he is. The annoying guy who belonged on the other side of the Mediterranean playing with his stupid cats and napping or something else just as stupid.
"Thank you for inviting me, Gupta." Heracles said, looking up from the stuffed leaf he just finished wrapping. Sure, Heracles was also a bit confused by the randomness of this get together, which seemed to have the sole purpose of having the three nation-people make dolmades, but he didn't let himself get thrown off by it. Instead, he took another small scoop of his lamb filling and placed it inside a leaf, before tucking in the sides and rolling it up, adding the completed, raw dolmade to the pot with the others. The Egyptian looked up from his leaf at Heracles' 'thank you' and smiled, nodding a 'you're welcome' before adding more rice filling to his leaf.
"Whadda crap you think you're doin'?!" At Sadiq's sudden outburst, both Heracles and Gupta looked up, the former with a rare annoyed expression (rare, that is, except for when the Turkish man is around) and the latter with merely an eyebrow raised. "What kinda retarded dolma filling is 'at? It's like, all rice! Does that even have a taste, man??" Oh, so he was speaking to the simply gave him a look, before wordlessly turning away and getting back to work, which only made the Turk angrier. "Lay off, jerk. You're lucky he even invited trash like you over. And, retard, they're called dolmades, not dolma."
"Mahshi." In a voice so quiet and random it almost went unheard, the Egyptian spoke. Not that it even looked like he had; his amber eyes hadn't moved from the leaf he was currently wrapping in his hand, and when the two feuding nations looked up they saw that he was still in the same exact position he'd been in all along.
"Mahshi, eh? So that's what ya call it 'ere?" Sadiq repeated, and Gupta nodded. "Funny, you was part of the Ottoman Empire so long, and I still ain't used to your voice." The line had the desired affect, not on whom it spoken at, but who it was intended to bother. Heracles obviously looked a bit annoyed at the reminder of his "brother" being occupied by Sadiq.
"You know, I like your voice, Gupta. It's very familiar." The Greek smiled warmly, but Sadiq knew it was just his way of gaining the upper hand in what was turning into a fight over the Egyptian. So what if Egypt had been part of the Ottoman Empire; after all, Heracles and Gupta had grown up together in the days when their moms were powerhouses, and that bond hadn't completely faded away, even though their nations had grown course, Gupta might've been quiet, but he wasn't stupid; he looked up from his work and gave the arguing nations a look that clearly said 'Are you serious?'
Silence fell upon the living room for a moment, before Sadiq started again."An' you! How the hell you got a meat dolma without any nuts in it?"
The Greek man looked up from his dolmade, and gave the Turk an icy look."You know, dolmades did originate in Greece. So, I guess you're the one doing it wrong, bastard." Sadiq growled in annoyance at not having a comeback, and Heracles seemed silence that fell upon the trio once again was thick and tense. "So, mind telling' us just why we're sittin' here doin' woman's work, Gupta?" But this time when he spoke, it didn't sound like Sadiq was trying to start a fight; this time it was genuine curiosity.
As expected, Gupta didn't give an answer. Instead he turned his head up towards the ceiling and closed his eyes, allowing a smile to form on this face as he looked like he was pondering an answer. But Heracles and Sadiq knew him better than that, and so they gathered that he already had an answer, and that he wasn't about to tell them. The Turk scoffed, obviously annoyed at the Egyptian's mysterious demeanor. He could almost swear that the man took advantage of the fact that he was an enigma in most gatherings, and milked it for all it was worth. The brat wasn't like that when he was a kid, after all.
"Aw, come on, you mean ta tell me tha' you invited us 'ere to sit around and make dolmas!"
"JUST SHUT UP DAM- ktch, uuhh- You tryin' ta kill me?!"
"If only." The Greek muttered, as Sadiq got over having a raw, empty grape leaf stuffed into his mouth by Gupta. He had to admit, though, it tasted pretty good, although he'd like some warning next time.
"Ya you little brat, you'd like that wouldn't ya? Well, it's gonna take a lot more than some grape leaves ta take down the great Me!"
Heracles had to try very, very hard to resist the urge to hit Sadiq in the face with a pot.
No, wait, he did try to hit the older nation with a pot, only to have Gupta grab his hand and give him a look that managed to convey 'I'd prefer if you didn't since I don't want blood on my floor.' Instead he settled for scowling and giving Sadiq the dirty eye before turning back to his work. If only Gupta hadn't been there…
Wait a minute. "Gupta, just how many mahshi are we making?" Heracles asked, trying out the Arabic word but finding it sounded weird on his tongue. Gupta, however smiled at his attempt, obviously pleased that his half/step/whatever-brother tried to use his language. Not many other nations even made the attempt.
The youngest nation present looked up from his work, gaze focused on the wall in what seemed to be concentration.
"Enough. Whatever's left over can be shared."
This answer caused both Heracles and Sadiq to give him odd looks, but it seemed as though they were getting closer to finding out why they were there. Maybe.
The trio continued to work in silence, although Gupta clearly noticed how Heracles and Sadiq kept giving each other dirty looks and cursing at one another under their breaths in hopes the Egyptian wouldn't hear (but he did), and how Sadiq nearly almost spit in Heracles' pot of ready-to-cook mahshi, except the Egyptian threw a leaf at his face before he could to let Sadiq know he was busted (he would have pinched the other man, only his hands were dirtied with rice and sauce and he didn't want an angry Turk after him too). He saw how Heracles accidentally on-purpose kicked Sadiq when he was stretching out his leg, and then claimed that his legs were cramping and that it wasn't his fault Sadiq was in the way (not that Gupta couldn't sympathize with the leg cramp; they had been sitting on the ground for an awfully long time).
It came as a surprise to the other nations when Gupta suddenly stood up, shaking his legs a bit to get the blood flowing in them again, and picked up his pot from the floor, and full five layers of rolled up leaves stacked in the medium sized pan, which was quite a lot. He gave the two seated nations another look, his eyes falling into their pots and finding them a bit emptier than his, no doubt because of their fighting, but still plenty full enough that they could get to cooking now. Motioning toward the kitchen with his head, he signaled for Heracles and Sadiq, both of whom pulled themselves up slowly and picked up their pots when they got the feeling back in their legs. He then led them into the kitchen, and all three pots were put on the stovetop to cook for… well, however long it took for the insides to get done. After all, each had it's own filling, and therefore a unique (albeit very close) cook time.
Gupta and Sadiq were currently sitting at the former's dining room table, waiting for the food to finish cooking. Heracles at fallen asleep sitting a few chairs away from them several minutes ago, and the Egyptian, believing that it couldn't be comfortable, ignored the Turk's scoffing ("Jus' ignore 'im, yanno? If tha' bastard can't stay awake it's his problem.") and carried the Greek over to sleep on the couch with a strength his thin body didn't seem like it could possess, also ignoring Sadiq's half-hearted requests to help him (only because he didn't want the Egyptian to get hurt, not because he gave a damn for the brat).
"Ya could'a jus' left him 'ere, yanno. Didn't hafta bother movin' him or nuthin." Gupta highly doubted that he could have just left the sleeping Greek at the table and expected nothing bad to happen to him, but wisely decided to keep this thought to himself. Instead he simply shrugged, and took a sip from his tea cup.
The Turk sighed a deep, heavy sigh, and mirrored the Egyptian's action, admitting to himself that the tea was very good. Sweeter than he was used to, but delicious nonetheless.
A moment passed away in silence, before Sadiq asked again. "So, why exactly did ya ask us ta come 'ere, Gupta?"
Sadiq could see the Egyptian smile into his teacup, a smile that seemed strange on his face, if only because it wasn't one he'd seen often. More often than not Gupta had a perfectly painted empty expression, so perfect that it had to be fake, or else there was a sharp sting in the way he looked at you that told you he was hurt because of you, and that he wanted nothing more than to see you leave his country. Sadly, that was a look Sadiq was very familiar with, and he couldn't help but remember those days when the three of them were children. Sadiq gave a heavy chuckle that seemed to be holding not so much happiness as it was reminiscence.
He looked over at his companion to see that the Egyptian was giving him a questioning look.
"I was jus' thinkin' about the days when we were kids. We fought a lot back then too, didn't we?" Gupta nodded, but he was still wearing that smile. Sadiq wondered what the hell it meant.
"'Course, ya used ta talk a lot more back then." Sadiq added, wearing a smirk. Gupta gave him a blank look, and then broke out into a far-too short laugh, which ended even before Sadiq had realized it'd happened.
"What's going on?" And suddenly the two seated nations looked up to find that Heracles was awake, and rubbing at his eye. He sat back down in his seat again, and took a sip from his tea cup, while was still warm.
"What da hell? Weren't you jus' sleepin'?"
Heracles glared at the masked face. "Couldn't sleep with you here."
"But- you was jus' sleepin' in 'ere, and Gupta had ta carry you out! Don't tell me you were awake that whole time an' you let him carry you!"
Heracles seemingly ignored the Turk, and turned to Gupta was a half-sheepish, half-surprised expression. "Sorry about that. Thank you." The Egyptian nodded and smiled, and all was forgiven again.
"Hey, remember tha' time when Gupta's cat bit ya? Tha' was a good day." Sadiq laughed, still apparently in a reminiscent mood.
"At least I didn't almost drown in the aqueduct in Rome."
"Yea? Well, at leas' I didn't almost pass out from heat stroke in Egypt!"
"Least I didn't get stuck in an urn!"
"At leas' I wasn't a mama's boy!!"
Heracles stood up so abruptly that the table shook and tea spilled out of all three cups. But he was so mad, he didn't even notice.
"Don't talk about my mother!"
Sadiq laughed at this blind rage, of only because he knew that even like this Heracles wasn't really going to do anything. He would have to raise the heat a little bit more for this to really get any fun.
But before the masked man could get another word into the argument, Gupta sent him a look so violent and dirty that for a moment Sadiq actually froze in place. Not that he would ever admit to it, of course, but it was a powerful enough glare that it made him reconsider; maybe he shouldn't do anything to upset his host, especially when his host could make a weapon out of anything (and Sadiq could personally vouch for this, and knew others who could too).
"Remember when I got lost in the woods?" The Egyptian then spoke, giving Heracles a softer look that managed to communicate 'Sadiq won't be continuing that last train of thought unless he wants to lose many things he holds of value, such as internal organs.'
"Ya', I remember. Your ma was ready ta beat Rome for losin' ya." Sadiq chuckled as the memory came back, and even Heracles couldn't hold back a smile as he remembered his aunt smacking Rome with a loaf of bread repeatedly while screaming at him for losing her only son. The Egyptian nodded, remembering the death grip of a hug he'd received when he'd finally found his way out as he wiped up the spilt tea. That had been only a few months before Ancient Egypt fell, he recalled, and tried not to dwell on the depressing fact as he took his seat once more.
"Remember how we never used to actually do our Latin work, but we'd pretend to when we knew Rome would check?"
Sadiq laughed. "Ya, Gupta'd write hieroglyphics all over his page, and you'd draw cats on yours."
"And you'd pinch my arm until it turned sore." Heracles scoffed, but it didn't seem like he was going to do anything about it. The smell of the cooking dolmades/dolma/mahshi was floating into the dining area where they were sitting, and it was starting to make the trio hungry.
"What about the time when Rome made us all participate in the Saturnalia? That was a pretty fun week, even though you were there."
"Same goes for you." Just then, the smell of the food became too much to ignore, apparently, as the Turk's stomach growled.
The Egyptian looked up at the clock on the wall. 45 minutes had passed; most likely, the food was done. He got up from his chair, and the other 2 men followed suit, going to check on their own pots as only they could be trusted to do.
Within 5 minutes, they were sitting at the dining table once again, this time with three platters of stuffed grape leaves, fully cooked and still steaming, in the middle of the table.
"Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem" Both Sadiq and Gupta murmured under their breaths, and three nations began to eat.
In Gupta's mind, there was one exceptionally amazing thing about the fact that all three nations had one variation of the same thing. Aside from the fact that it was cultural diffusion at it's best, and that he was more than grateful to Heracles for inventing the dish in the first place and then sharing it, was the fact that in the end all three variations looked the same. The green, finger shaped food did not betray it's contents, be it meat, rice, or nuts, and so it was easy for the Egyptian to sneak some Greek dolmades onto Sadiq's plate, and some Turkish dolmas onto Heracles' without either man noticing anything was wrong.
He watched carefully, amber eyes darting from man to man as he chewed his food, waiting for the reaction when Sadiq found that his next dolma was full of lamb, or when Heracles found nuts in his next dolmade. And, Gupta had to admit, neither of them let him down; both of them were initially surprised at what they'd just eaten, but Gupta could also tell from centuries of people-watching that they were also impressed, and if it wasn't the facial expressions that told him they liked what they'd tasted from each other, it was the fact that they'd both subtly taken more of each other's food when they thought no one was looking.
They ate until they were full, each taking from the other's and his own food until they could eat no more. Gupta complimented both Heracles and Sadiq on the tastiness of their variations, and in exchange they had both praised his cooking as well (though, Gupta smiled again when they showed indifference to each other, claiming it was hard to eat with the other's horrendous dish on the table).
"What's so damn funny, Gupta, tha's got you smiling' like tha'?"
The Egyptian simply shook his head as he packed the leftovers into food storage containers; he wondered what Feliciano, Lovino, Antonio and the others would think of the food, and realized that while they might love the taste, they would never be able to understand all that went into it, and the sentiment that was behind it all. The Egyptian smiled when he turned around to discover Heracles and Sadiq fighting over control of the sink as they tried to wash the dishes; it looked to him as though he had succeeded.
Because it may not have been very traditional, but he'd always thought of them as his family.
(1) Dolmades/Dolma/Mahshi - The Greek, Turkish, and Arabic words for "stuffed grape leaves" respectively. While the filling may vary from region to region within a country, I used the general consensus for each country as obtained through online cookbooks and wikipedia. Heracles' dolmades have lamb inside, Sadiq's dolmas contains rice and nuts, and Gupta's mahshi are filled with just rice (with spices and herbs for all three, of course, as Mediterranean cooking often has).
(2) "Funny, you was part of the Ottoman Empire so long, and I still ain't used to your voice." - Egypt was taken over by the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and their control over Egypt ended in 1805 with the rule of King Muhammad Ali over Egypt, although the Ottoman's didn't acknowledge that Egypt was free from their rule just then.
(3) Saturnalia - The biggest holiday of Ancient Rome, celebrated between December 17th and December 23rd in honor of the god Saturn. More information here: http:// en. wikipedia. org/ wiki/ Saturnalia (without spaces, please)
(4) Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem - "In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful". A prayer that Muslims recite before they eat, it felt appropriate to include as Egypt and Turkey are both Muslim-majority nations, with over 90% of both populations Muslim.
The idea for this fic came, not too surprisingly, when I was making stuffed grape leaves (mahshi) with my mom last week. The way I see it, we're told that Gupta is family oriented, so I'd imagine he'd want to spend time with his family, and that his family would be the people he grew up with. Hence, Greece and Turkey, even if they refuse to get along.
Reviews make me happier than favorites, so if you liked this fic, please tell me!! And if you didn't, you can tell me that too. Also, I'd like to put in a special thank you to SmrtyPantz for all her amazing work beta-ing this fic and supporting me throughout it. Thank you so much!!! If anyone is a fan of England, please go check out her story "Arthur's Phases"!!