He had two small cups of soup. “It ox tail soup. It hasn’t been made out of the actual tail… we’ll replicated tail in years. It’s pseudo beef, slow roasted, or braised…” Calvin really didn’t know what recipe the computer followed. “The cut of meat historically had a lot of fat which breaks down and make the soup rich and meaty. Sometime people think its a very spicy beef stew.”
“It’s like you read my mind. We Slades are all about the beef stews,” she let out a laugh. “The difference between ours and yours is two things,” Vanessa stirred the soup as she talked. “The first is you can see the beef. We played a game called can you get to five and tried to count who got the most. Then we cited that whoever had the most was mom’s favorite.” The smile she wore was no longer flirty but that of someone remembering a happy memory. “The second is your food is tiny. Tiny food is fancy food and we didn’t have the credits for fancy.” Taking a bite she let her shoulders sad and let out a small groan chewing to savor the bite.
“Its not small because it’s fancy…” He didn’t know anyone who called ox tail soup fancy. “It more because of the number of courses. If I used full sized portions, you’d never get to the end… or you’d be so bloated you wouldn’t want to do anything after finishing but nap.” He left off the part where he didn’t want her to go right to sleep.
“Says the man who obviously did not grow up on potatoes and pasta,” she laughed. “I will grant you the idea of portion sizing being small so you can sample a lot however no one in the history or anyone ever plopped down a cereal-sized bowl of caviar and said here is your spoon.” Extravagant or exotic food was small because the ingredients were expensive. Too large of a portion took the cost out of reach. While Ox-tail soup might not be that exotic, for someone raised on chicken soup it was.
“Does your family like own a restaurant or something back home? So far both of these things are amazing.”
“No nothing like that,” Marius kind of had two families. “I just wanted to come up with something a little special and to put some thought into it. Its five courses from different parts of Earth. The fried tomatoes, is a North America thing, pork bellies, that’s Chinese, Ox tail soup is African. That leaves more than a few area for the main course and desert.”
“And a whole lot of pressure on me if I invite you for dinner,” she let out a laugh. “There are a lot of us which means a normal meal is like a holiday dinner and run with the precision of the Academy mess hall. With twelve of us, replicator credits didn’t go far so we cut back in logical ways. Pancakes are a staple for breakfast and there was always a pot of something on the stove. Oddly enough we eat a mack ton of seafood but it was because my Uncles were fishermen. So you said you put some thought into this…why,” she asked taking a bite of her soup. “What makes all of this special to Calvin Marius?”
Vanessa Slade CNS
“Now obviously there dozens of classical dishes from South America, but I took the easy way out and picked a Parilla, or steak house selection.” He stood and walked over to the replicator. Even before he reached it a large dish glowed into existence. The savory smells wafted to her before he was even able to pick it up.” The platter was covered with five selections. Each slightly different but all clearly beef. “This is Lomo, filet ojo de bife, rebeye; pulpon, rump; asado, short ribs, and finally morcilla.. which is blood sausages. Its pretty good, I like them better with eggs but you can have them with dinner as well.”
“And I have no idea what you just said,” she picked up a fork, “but I am going for this one.” Taking a bite of the filet ojo de bife she groaned. The juices and texture took her to a happy place as she closed her eyes and chewed very slowly savoring the bit. It was perfection in her mouth.
“Its Spanish names for cuts of beef. I’m sure the universal translator couldn’t understand my accent well enough to translate. In English that the rib eye. Everyone likes that cut of beef. People say the filet is better, and it certainly is softer more tender, but the rib eye - particularly the cap is fatty, juicy, and very beefy.” Which was pretty stupid to add. How could beef not be beefy… but whatever.
“Oh I am not wearing it,” she waved him off. “It was a safe bet you spoke English and it allows you to resort to another language without me knowing what you said. Everyone needs some privacy at times to vent. It also lets you learn other languages because if that little puppy breaks you are left with miming and no one likes mimes.” She let a playful shudder ripple down her body. Mimes were like spectral clowns to her. They weren’t funny, neither talked, but instead of being colorful, they reminded her of a ghost.
He smiled, “I excluded common dishes like Mollejas, which is the sweetbreads and chincjulin, intestines. they are a little more of an acquired taste.”
Instantly her eyes opened and she stopped chewing. A long stare passed between them. Raising a hand to her mouth she covered it as she spoke still holding the bite between her teeth. “You um said Excluded right. See I was just having a culinary orgasm,” she swirled at her lips, “and my brain turns into a goldfish during one so I need to make sure,” she began to chew the bite as if it is were a cross between tar and peanut sticking to her teeth and the roof of her mouth. Swallowing the bite she took a long drink of her beverage. “That was EX and not In.”
“Yes, EX cluded.” Marius shook his head, “I always wondered why people cared so much about those things.” For the most part organs didn’t really taste that great because they weren’t muscle and the did things that made them tough or bitter. “You know you eat intestines all the time when you have sausages… right.”
“Okay,” she gave him a playful look. “I am going in again,” she speared another piece of meat and placed it on her plate. While she might be acting like she was on Galactic Survivor and debating each bite of food she sampled at times, Vanessa was enjoying every moment of this.
“So you deftly avoided my question about why the food you picked was important to you and while informative, responded by just reading the menu. So,” she cut another bite of food, “you either want to impress me..which you have but don’t need to,” she popped the bite in her mouth nodding at how much she liked it, “you took dinner dating advice from Lt. Bobby ‘the boink her’ Zellers which is always a bad move or this means something to you.” Cutting another bite of meat she ate it and looked at the plate for another selection. It was amazing and so far she loved it all not yet finding a favorite. Vanessa had given him several outs for replies and would take any of them.
Vanessa “going to avoid any dessert that looks like a sweet bread” Slade CNS
“No, they really aren’t important to me,” He thought he kind of explained it. “I was..” he smiled, “trying to put in some effort and I decided that I should give you a tour of Earth and I picked a dish from different regions.” He paused, “Well not Australia, they are only famous for shrimp.”
“So you are trying to put in some effort but not look like you are trying to put in some effort,” she smiled back at him. Leaning in she wiggled her finger for him to lean in also. “Noted and so far breakfast is looking more and more like a sure thing.” Vanessa leaned back and continued to eat as she deftly changed the topic. Calvin was a big boy and an intelligent one. She was not going to explain or connect any dots, especially after last night.
“Oh, I’m not trying to hide it. I absolutely want you to see the effort and feel completely beholden to me and if you don’t, I at least want the guilt.” Men have gotten pretty far using guilt. He leaned forward as he spoke.
“Oh there will be no guilt tomorrow. That is the sign of a good date. When you wake up and your first thought isn’t coffee but good god what was I thinking last night yet still have that nagging feeling in the back of your head that says is it too early to ask about dinner again? I will save you the trouble. It is not.” Vanessa winked at him before sitting back in her seat.
“So where is the most exciting place you have ever been to?” There was no point in worrying about getting too personal with her questions on some level. Calvin and she had skipped a lot of conversational steps last night. The whole tell me about yourself might seem trite but whatever this dinner lead to, she did find him interesting on a lot of levels.
Vanessa Slade CNS
“Well once on Galnondon Core my marine detachment and I had to repel a Cardassian-Breen incursion on that death sentence of a planet. They were trying to cut off the Romulans from the Federation or visa versa. Between random mortar shells and wondering when your nervous system was going to break down from the electromagnetic storms I would call that a pretty exciting place.” He looked at her, he didn’t think that was exactly what she was looking for, but it was never a bad idea to remind you date of the fact you were a war hero.
“So that means if we survive whatever this is between us for longer than a week fling I plan the weekenders and you plan all the rescues?” Her smile was wide and happy filling her face. “I promise you will only have to knock out the two or three blokes at the beach bar trying to pick me up as I saunter up to the bar getting us drinks if I plan it.” Her comment was tongue in cheek but Vanessa had seen him at the gym. She also saw him on the bridge. The two sides seemed to be in total contrast to each other. Calvin was built like a tank and could probably put a Klingon through a bulkhead if he was motivated enough. He was also very reserved and tended to be rather laconic when on duty. This did not mean however Vanessa was not curious or turned on by his story.
Vanessa Slade CNS
“You have a very glamorized view of rescues and bar fights.” Calvin didn’t much like getting punched.
“I’ve done the drunken bar customer thing. It doesn’t happen nearly as often as you might think. Once you get away from the 20 year olds. For some reason 20 somethings don’t understand pain, but you get punched in the face a few times your don’t try to do it too often in your 30s.” He glanced at her, “although I’ve seen attractive women and alcohol can lead those ‘misunderstandings.’“
“I’ve also been fairly fortunate, a few kind words and most people back down.” His ‘luck’ probably extended from the fact that he was over six feet tall and built from a block of pure muscle.
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