I woke up this morning thinking that root vegetables would be an interesting starting point for some flash fiction. It seemed like a good idea at the time anyway…..
Roots to Love
George was halfway through the hourly sweep of his section, surprised, as always, at how much produce ended up on the floor.
‘Excuse me. Are those yam or cassava? I’m never quite sure.’
George was on his knees, reaching under the display for an escaped turnip, but he could still tell that the woman was taller than him; and she was solid, in the way that well-nourished women were.
‘The ones on the left are the yams. Beautiful thinly sliced and fried.’
‘That sounds delicious.’
George stood up. She was about an inch taller.
‘But not as good as plantain.’
The woman scanned the shelves.
‘I don’t see any here.’
‘That,’ said George, ‘is because I bought the last of them yesterday.’
‘Shame. I’d like to have tried them.’
George replaced the turnip, checking the pile for stability.
‘I could make some for us, if you like.’
It took three months to work their way through the whole root vegetable section. Patricia insisted on their taking turns, although George preferred to be in charge of the hot oil.
‘It’s dangerous,’ he said, ‘for a beginner.’
The carrot was the surprise success, and they agreed that parsnip was both reliable and tasty; but the sweet potato was disappointing.
‘Pappy,’ said Patricia, ‘like cheap bread.’
They had just finished a second bowl of ‘Yukon Gold’ one evening, (“crispy yet predictable”), when Patricia suggested they lay off the fried food for a while. George wiped the bowl with his finger.
‘But what will we do instead?’
It was a sensible question to which neither George or Patricia had an answer.
George continued experimenting alone, tweaking his technique. Each vegetable, he found, had its particular thickness for the optimum fry. Only the oil was a constant; the temperature and brand never varied. The oil, he understood, acted as a conduit for the vegetables, transporting each to a higher plane of enjoyment.
Patricia hadn’t been back to the supermarket for a while, but appeared one Tuesday morning at George’s check out.
‘You’ve progressed from fruit and veg then?’
George glanced at the mountain of carrots making their way along the conveyor.
‘My manager said I’d be more comfortable here, sitting,’ said George. His swivel seat creaked in protest as he shifted position.
‘Good for you,’ said Patricia.
‘They’ll make you a lot of carrot chips,’ said George, ‘you’ll never get through all them on your own.’
‘These?’ said Patricia, laughing, ‘oh, we’re juicing them. You wouldn’t believe how many carrots it takes to make two glasses.’
‘Yes. Peter, that’s my partner; he just loves carrot juice.’
George pushed the carrots into the bagging area.
‘You said a relationship couldn’t be based on a mutual love of root vegetables.’
‘Yes. I wrote it down. On a ‘post-it’.’
‘I don’t remember.’ Patricia looked at the counter. ‘Don’t forget our celery. They taste great together; the celery gives the juice an edge.’
‘But celery isn’t a root vegetable.’
‘No George, it isn’t. But a varied diet is healthier.’ Patricia bagged her vegetables. ‘How much will that be please?’
© flyingscribbler 2013
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Did you catch my post about historical accuracy in weights and measures? Vital advice indeed for budding historical fiction writers.