A/N: Written for the Valentine's Exchange at FMA Gift Exchange, for the prompt: Ling, "Happy yum-yum time."
The food here was so exotic. Ling had always liked to eat, but he was finding Amestrian food particularly enticing.
He started with a thick, green lentil stew with bits of cured meat stirred into it. It was salty and a bit bland, with meaty undercurrents. The texture was thick and satisfying, and the bits of meat were pleasant bursts of smoke and salt and flavor. Ling scraped the bowl with his spoon, and then dropped the spoon and proceeded to use a finger, licking the last drops off of the length of it. Nothing was quite as efficient at scraping a dish clean as a finger.
After the stew, he was served a whole chicken, sliced open at the spine and flattened and roasted until the skin was crisp and the meat was juicy. The outside had been basted in a spicy mustard sauce which lent a lovely tanginess to the meat. He tore the meat from the bones, licking the juices from his hands as they started to run down to his wrists.
Next to him, Lan Fan sighed. "Young lord, you'll make yourself sick," she told him, and politely wrested half the chicken from him.
Ling grinned around the thigh-bone in his mouth "I'll let you keep that as long as you eat with me," he said.
Lan Fan sighed again, but didn't argue. She slid her mask up and began carefully, cautiously stripping the meat. She must have been hungry, Ling thought. He smiled. Good. She should share a meal with him.
The next course was some sort of beef, cut thin and breaded in crumbs. It was tender, and the breading was crisp and salty and flavorful. Ling sighed, and cut his portion into wedges, dropping them into his mouth with his fingers and savoring the contrast of well-cooked flesh and crunchy breading.
Next to the beef was a pile of whitish, starchy paste. Ling was unsure of it, but he approached it in the spirit of adventure. He scooped up a glob in his fingers and put it in his mouth, neatly licking his fingers clean. He was pleased to find that it was savory and buttery and probably infused with cream, which was one of his favorite substances in the entire world. There were hints of garlic and black pepper. He scooped up a larger bite.
"Young Lord," Lan Fan chastised him, with a meaningful glance at the utensils and the napkins.
Ling broke into a smile. "Of course!" he said. He picked up the spoon, scooped up a large bite of the paste, and made to shove it into Lan Fan's mouth.
"Young Lord!" Lan Fan repeated, scandalized.
"It's good!" Ling argued. "Besides, shouldn't you be tasting what I eat anyway?" Which was a stupid argument, because if she had been acting as a taster she would have been eating before Ling, not after, and anyway, she was much too valuable a servant to risk like that. But it would probably get her to eat it, and Ling liked sharing tastes with other people. Particularly Lan Fan, when he could manage it, and particularly when she was hungry.
"Yes, Lord," Lan Fan said, and ate the bite. Her eyes didn't meet his, but he could tell by the tilt of her head that she was lying. He sighed.
There were sausages next, with mustard. After that, there were twisted bits of bread covered in large chunks of salt. They were pleasantly chewy and soft. There was a salad of pickled cabbage, which had a depth of flavor and sourness that reminded him of a soup he'd tasted once in one of the outlying provinces. When he coaxed her to try it, that was what Lan Fan liked the most.
"Amestrian food is strange," She commented evenly, her fork half out of the bowl, "But this is a little familiar."
There were sweets at the end. Ling picked up a little ball made of some sort of eggy, bouncy dough. When he bit into it, sweet cream squirted out onto his face.
"Young Lord!" Lan Fan cried, scandalized. She reached for a napkin.
"You worry too much!" Ling protested. "This is delicious." And before she could stop him, he scraped some of the cream off his cheek and popped it- and his finger- into her mouth.
Lan Fan recoiled, pulling her mask down and shaking her head. Ling sighed, smiling sadly. "It is delicious, isn't it?" he said.
"Yes, Lord," she said, softly.
"Lan Fan," he said, "Sit down. Eat some of these little fried mushrooms. They have cheese inside them! It's ingenious."
Cautiously, Lan Fan took a mushroom and retreated to the spot opposite him.
Ling speared a mushroom with his fork. "See?" he said. "Amestrian food is wonderful."
A door opened.
"GODDAMMIT LING!" a voice said. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING HERE?"
Ling made sure to grab the mushrooms on the way out.