Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New Beginning 944

Norma had a pot of soup going: mostly turnips and tough frog meat, though they'd finally all figured out how to make it soft enough to pass for chicken. Ramona Raine, who had Cajun relatives, had even figured out that if you threw the fatty skins on a cookie sheet, they crisped up nice enough to snack on. The resulting fake pork rinds were hell on digestion but a huge relief nonetheless: it was better than burning it all with the rest of the remains. Better to keep that stench in the kitchen, where it could be managed.

It hadn't rained in three days. Norma thanked God and touched the ceramic four-leafed clover by her kitchen sink and prayed to both that it wouldn't rain for another three. Not until she canned all this soup.

Norma labeled the cans "Consommé." Strictly speaking, it wasn't consommé, but the European air was popular and the tourists were many ever since her small town had twinned itself with Elpòine in Burgundy. Her small shop guarded the only through-road and invariably this was where the lost would pause to get their bearings.

A knock at the door.

"Get that, Clyde!" Norma shouted as she gummed the last of the labels.

She heard hinges creak and the muffled pidgin of "Excusez-moi, can yoo tell mee ze way to--" cut off by a scream and a thud.

"Put the pot back on Norma," Clyde called to her, "and sharpen the knives. We got us another one o' them frogs."

Opening: 150.....Continuation: Anon.


Evil Editor said...

An opening of a work in progress that may not have progressed much beyond what's here, submitted when the queue was empty.

If I were spending large amounts of time in the kitchen, I don't think I would seek ways to keep the stench in the kitchen, not when the other remains are still going to be burned anyway.

Not clear why canning soup in the kitchen is problematic if it rains.

BuffySquirrel said...

Not very engaged with this I'm afraid 150. Is it post-apocalyptic? Frog and turnip soup. Ugh!

sarahhawthorne said...

I liked this. There's quite a bit of tension packed into a description of a recipe - implied food shortages, ominous rain. I would definitely read on.

vkw said...

I loved the continuation and I think this opening with the continuation would make a good - if not great - short story.

I also didn't know why canning soup in the kitchen could be troubled by the rain. Hmmm, maybe because . . . . no still don't get it. I'm still a lazy reader and I've used up my 30 seconds of attention.

May want to cut that or explain it but don't use up your reader's 30 seconds of concentraton until you are further into the book.


AlaskaRavenclaw said...

You'd want to use a pressure cooker for canning soup. Acidity's gonna be too low for your boiling water bath method.

Whether a pressure cooker is in any way affected by a drop in atmospheric pressure I don't know...

The post-apocalyptic vibe made me think of Hurricane Katrina, which is about as post-apocalyptic as this country has gotten lately. But really... would not read further. Am very fond of frogs. Alive.

khazar-khum said...

The continuation is screaming to be finished into a nifty little story.

Rachel6 said...

I feel like I should've seen that twist coming....hahaha, nice!

Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuation:

But on the other hand, a spot of rain might be nice. She'd used up the last of the fresh water in this soup, and now all they had were those damn rivers of blood.

Norma sighed and tried to convince herself she was cooking gourmet--frogs legs used to be a delicacy, didn't they?

But there was no time for sulking now. She had to finish this batch of soup, and then get to work on her recipes for gnat brittle and locust quiche....

--T.K. Marnell

Golfball said...

AKRClaw: Aha, I think you hit the nail on the head why damp weather would be a problem for canning soup.

A pressure cooker has a maximum pressure (and thus temperature) according to the air pressure differential between the inside of the cooker and the outside air pressure. So, a lower outside air pressure means a lower temperature inside the cooker, which means a longer cooking time. (And possibly issues with the canning, but I would think one could can soup other places besides the LA bayou.)

Golfball said...

In re: stench mgmt.

I think trying to contain stench in the kitchen (for better management) is due to some of the more fragrant types of cuisine, and not wanting to annoy the neighbors.

For example, chitterlings being prepared/cooked can be smelled (according to my mother) about 100-150 yards downwind. [She always knew when her grandfather was cooking a batch and the wind was just right.] Maybe the same thing is at play here?