Talking About Decorating Apples and Sausages
Apples cut into bunny rabbits and sausages cut into octopuses. You often hear about people who will make food to resemble animals, but when you’re talking about the guild’s most powerful swordswoman, Shirley the Demonic White Sword, things are a bit different.
According to legend, there was once a renowned saint who with their twin daggers was capable of purifying any and all kinds of poison, miasma, malicious intent and impurities. The blades of these knives could cut through any atrocious monster, and even when they became drenched with the poisonous blood of those it slew, the beautiful pale blades continued on without ever rusting or staining. At some point the blades inherited the purification properties characteristic of saints and became magic weapons.
How much of this legend is true……is hard to say after over a hundred years, but the blades themselves exist at the very least. They were found thrusted inside the statue of a demon located at the center of a dense forest before falling into Shirley’s possession.
With these two legendary daggers in her hands, Shirley closed her eyes, visualizing the result she was searching for, sharpening her wits, and pushing her body to the absolute limits. Her snow white hair was now floating in the wind from all the magic power currently blowing out from her body.
The twin daggers responded to the magic power of their wielder, emitting a pure white light. The purification effect that dispelled all uncleanliness from their blades. For the sword demon to be using such specialized blades, she must be dealing with a tremendously poisonous foe like a giant snake capable of wrapping its body around a mountain or some kind of versatile atrocity that wrapped itself in a thick miasma.
At least, that’s what a third party who only saw these blades as the sacred weapons of a legendary saint would think.
“Well then, let’s begin.”
However before her sat only a single cutting board. Standing by her side was Martha who had an apple in one hand and a whole sausage in the other. And unfortunately rather than a set of church-made sacred armor crafted specifically to protect against poison and miasma, she was equipped with a simple apron for the coming battle. Oh, she was also wearing her favorite bandanna to tie back her hair as well.
“If you would, Martha”
Martha threw the apple and sausage up into the air at the same time. The two ingredients flew in an arc overhead, and in the instant they both moved past Shirley’s face, her hands moved.
To an amateur it would look as if all she did was throw her hands into the air. In reality, she had produced a countless number of slashes with her two knives, cutting into the falling apple and sausage. And yet, there was no change in either ingredient.
Did she really cut them? Just as Martha was beginning to wonder that very question, the apple and sausage lightly landed on the cutting board and split apart.
The final product was certainly some food decorated as an animal. A classic finger food suitable for a lunchbox――――
“……it’s quite a bit different from the decorative food that I know about.”
“…….you think so?”
Absolutely. Martha reflexively sighed as she observed the two decorative snacks forged through transcendental technique using a pair of legendary daggers.
First off was the apple. This wasn’t some chopped apple where she snipped off a bit of the skin to make each slice resemble a pair of rabbit ears, but rather a full blown sculpture carved to faithfully reproduce an actual hare. She had managed to carve out two of them from a single apple.
Then there was the sausage. Like with the apple, this was not some something as simple as her cutting the tip of the sausage and then cooking it up, but instead a fully carved out octopus. From the shape of the head and eyes to the number of legs, the whole piece was strangely elaborate.
“So, was there any point to me throwing the apple and sausage for you?”
“It’s so I could faithfully replicate the backsides as well of course.”
Martha was so exasperated she couldn’t think of anything else to say. Taking a second look, she found that the rabbits even had pads on the bottom of their carefully carved out paws. It was a ton of extra effort spent in the completely wrong direction.
“There is so much for me to respond to……so what’s with that glowing knife?”
“Do you remember before when Grania visited the inn?”
The S-rank adventurer known as the Illusionary Butterfly who had helped Shirley identify the spell from the empire meant to kidnap Sophie and Tio. Besides being a descendant of Canary’s, she was also an archeologist.
“We happened to see each other about a month ago, and she told me about a wonderful pair of daggers she thought I might be interested in. The daggers are able to automatically clean themselves and anything they touch thus detoxifying and spoiled or unsanitary ingredients I cut with them. No matter what kind of ingredients I buy now, I can easily purify them as I chop them up, and they will be safe to serve to my daughters. …….Actually, I don’t really need them both, so would you like one?”
“No, I’m good.”
There’s absolutely no way a normal person would think to use a pair of twin daggers capable of purifying monsters as ordinary kitchen knives. That saint must be rolling in their grave right that moment.
“But if we’re talking about normal decorative apples and sausages, they’re not supposed to look like this.”
Sure, you could definitely see this as an exceptionally special meal, but they’re clearly beyond the level of what you would put inside a lunchbox. Martha couldn’t understand what Shirley was aiming for.
“……Sophie and Tio are both old enough to be attending school.”
“? And? What does that have to do with this?”
“So I want to make sure I look like a proper adult in front of their friends.”
Martha still didn’t quite get what Shirley was trying to say.
Sophie and Tio are both definitely momma’s girls. However, they only really ever act like it when they’re inside the inn and away from their friends.
You can still tell they yearn for their mother in their words and actions, but it isn’t as out in the open when they’re outside in the larger world. Sophie is especially obvious in this aspect. The proof would be the braid in her hair which is quickly becoming her trademark.
This is more a matter of appearance than a symbol of parental separation of course. The girls are both trying to grow up in their own way. And Shirley knows enough to not try and get in the way of that.
…….it’s just, it made her a bit lonely to think about how only five years ago she was all her daughters would talk about to whoever would listen.
“So if their friends are going to see their lunchboxes and they’re all getting older, I have to make sure the lunchboxes they bring to the sports meet are even more extravagant than last year’s. I have to make it taste and look as delicious as possible so that my daughters won’t be embarrassed to show it off to anyone.”
“I understand the sentiment, but you are taking it in the completely wrong direction.”
That is why Shirley has prescribed Martha’s help and was currently practicing making her lunchboxes. As a side note, Martha’s husband, who was currently busy cooking up meals for the people staying in the inn, would take a look at her progress later on.
“Sophie and Tio have grown so much taller since this year began. Last year I decorated it just like you told me to, but I feel that kind of design would be too cutesy for how they are now……so I thought I would make their lunchboxes a bit more mature this year.”
“That’s really not the problem here……”
You often hear that food looks too good to eat, but why does that phrase seem so wrong when applied to the food here?
…….Obviously it’s because the food she made is way too lifelike.
“……is it really that awful?”
“It’s not so much awful as it is that nobody is going to want to eat this. I mean, you’ve shaved off all the skin from the apple, so you’ll have to stab it with a fork or toothpick to eat it right? And that’s sorta……”
You don’t need to be that elaborate in your cooking. Sure there are going to be those people out there who won’t mind it, but there are others out there who are going to hesitate to stab a fork into what looks like a real, living rabbit.
“And besides, these apples are way too big to fit in their lunchboxes.”
“So I should make them smaller?”
Shirley whipped out her knives again and immediately got to work on the rabbit shaped apples, making them look exactly the same as before albeit slightly smaller. A truly useless skill.
“And this sausage. Who in their right minds is going to put something that looks exactly like an octopus into a young girl’s lunchbox?”
“……I was really confident in this one though, and I thought my daughters would be really surprised and happy once they saw what I did.”
Look…….Shirley waved Martha over to the stove, setting the overly elaborate octopus-shaped sausage into a frying pan. The heat of the pan caused the meat and fat of the octopus to shrink, causing the octopus’s legs to writhe about as if it were truly alive. It was impossible for Martha to describe what she was really felling in that moment.
“See, not only does the food have a dynamic feel with the moving legs, but I even made it so that little suction cups will pop out.”
“So much effort in the wrong direction.”
A really, truly useless skill. Most people would chuck their lunchboxes if they found something like this in there.”
“Tell me, you’ve lived inland your entire life,, so why can you make such a detailed octopus in the first place? And from just a single sausage.”
Martha had married a cook, so she’s seen seafood several times in the past, but because of things like putrefaction, it is still an unfamiliar ingredient in inland areas like their little remote town.
Sure people have seen decorative sausages cut to look like an octopus before, but there are very few people who would have ever seen the real thing. Rumors say Canary is looking to develop a magic tool capable of freezing food while it is delivered over long distances, but a finished product is apparently still a long ways away.
“I took the dragon wagon out for a subjugation mission, and on my may back, I stopped by a port town once to memorize its appearance for future reference. …..although I suppose it was a wasted trip if it looks that awful.”
Even though Shirley herself probably wouldn’t say anything, Martha knew that what Shirley described as simply ‘visiting a port town to do some shopping’, was actually her venturing out to participate in a series of exhaustive battles that should leave one too tired to move and performing grand feats an ordinary person would barely be able to comprehend.
An army of thousands of ants each boasting a size as large as a bear.
A nine headed dragon whose deadly poisonous breath was capable of causing the land, sea, and air to rot.
Even a tremendous ghost ship filled to the brim with vengeful spirits that had landed off the ghost of a poor port town had met its demise at the end of this delicate body’s sword. And yet, Shirley would never boast about any of this.
……No, it would be better to say that she didn’t consider anything like that worth boasting about. For Shirley, Sophie and Tio were all she had to brag about.
Quite a bit of time had passed since Shirley had begun spending time with other adventurers at the guild, but that part of them that felt pride in what they accomplished had never brushed off on her. Slaying monsters has always been just a means to an end.
“So instead of focusing on decorations, I guess we should focus on the taste and look?”
“Yes, I think that would be for the best.”
Martha shook her head and sighed. With the exception of her cutting skills, Shirley was in no way a master of cooking, so she would oftentimes grab Martha and her husband’s advice. She would scribble down every word they said, and whenever she had a spare moment, she would enthusiastically hone her cooking skills for her daughters.
It might not look it from the outside, but Martha wasn’t even ten years older than Shirley. And yet, as the proprietress of an inn that caters almost exclusively to adventures, Shirley had become a sort of younger sister to her…….or possibly a daughter she can’t take her eyes off of.
“……? What’s wrong Martha?”
“It’s nothing. Rather, don’t put those in next to the bread. This isn’t like a normal meal, you have to think about where you arrange the food in the lunchbox――――”
It was hell outside the city. Yet somehow the city itself was strangely peaceful, and its citizens were able to go through their daily lives without incident.
Days like this continue to pass for a while……until the day of the sports meet had finally arrived.