An Unexpected Feast
2009 Award Category: Genres: Humor: Aragorn or Legolas - First Place
Story Type: Story ✧ Length: Short Story
Rating: General ✧ Reason for Rating: N/A
Summary: Thorongil learned many things in his travels, not least of which was to eat what was placed before him. And hope not to die in the attempt.
Reviewed by: Thundera Tiger ✧ Score: 9
I have been there! I have been exactly where Aragorn is! And I have experienced exactly what he has experienced, though for me, it came in a different order. At the conclusion of a full meal, I bit into something (to this day, I don't know what it was) that blew the top of my head off and caused me to immediately down several full glasses of water and probably a quart of ice cream. Aragorn has my sympathies, but at the same time, I have to praise Cairistiona for so accurately and adeptly describing the scene. It was enough to get my memories working so that I could relive my own experience. And Aragorn is a much better sport than I, because I don't think I'd have the guts to make a return trip. To top off some fine descriptive work, I also have to praise Cairistiona for extremely clever writing. The turns of phrase and the dry humor that subtly lace the whole story really made for an enjoyable experience. I love the description of Aragorn's initial chopstick attempts and how his food made a show of ["escaping across the table in a bid for freedom"]. The patience of his hosts (mixed with stifled hilarity) was fun to watch, and at length, Aragorn does pull off a few successes. A fantastic tale. Wonderfully done!
Reviewed by: Aeärwen ✧ Score: 5
I'm still giggling at Thorongil's reaction to the food he was served - and at the restraint of the fellow feaster sitting near him at this table. The description of the food is done just right - enough to make even an adventurous Western reader sit up and go Ewww but not enough to turn the stomach. I agree with Thorongil about much of the offerings, however: I don't like food that looks back at me either, for the most part. The denoument of this story, however, is what really set me to cackling. Thorongil is certainly a braver person than I would be, because there's no way in all of Eä that anybody would ever be able to convince me to try that stuff. Nicely done, Cairistiona!
Reviewed by: Dreamdeer ✧ Score: 5
(Whoops--I thought I reviewed this before, but apparently I didn't push the right buttons or something to save it!) This is certainly one of the most lighthearted pieces that Cairistiona has come up with, and quite enjoyable as a standalone work. She has captured, quite vividly, and on all sensory levels, Aragorn's predicaments, in a setting all too often neglected from his long life's adventures, as customs and courtesy careen into a headlong collision. Travelers will especially appreciate this one, as well as anyone who has struggled manfully (or womanfully) to rise above culture shock in the name of good manners. Read it with good appetite, and enjoy the show!
Reviewed by: Raksha the Demon ✧ Score: 5
Anyone who has tried unfamiliar dishes at the homes of new friends can appreciate Thorongil's ordeal here; as the good Captain tries manfully to cope with cuisine that is very strange to him without insulting his hosts. Cairistiona's descriptions are marvelous; and I really like how Aragorn is characterized here - not perfect, he can't quite bring himself to eat some of the more unusual items (I can't blame him), but he does resolve to try harder in the future. The bit with the spices, and poor Aragorn mentally rhapsodizing over the qualities of rice, is wonderful.
Reviewed by: Dwimordene ✧ Score: 5
This is one aspect of the head of state position that would probably make me think twice if ever I came to think that such a position were in the least desirable! I'm terrible at controlling my expression or forcing myself to eat things that present too strongly as unappetizing. I imagine that Aragorn's hosts might very well come to appreciate him for more than his entertainment value if he manages to eat the maodan (this sounds rather like a Filipino delicacy that I've been careful to bypass) - he might not have truly been instrumental in the fight, but if he manages that, that's got to testify to fortitude!
Reviewed by: Celeritas ✧ Score: 4
What a riot this culture clash is! Language barriers, plus different eating utensils, plus sheer and utter ignorance of the food (I never know whether to laugh or cringe in sympathy when I get to the part about the wasabi) mean that the usually adventurous Aragorn is rather in above his head. The graciousness of the hosts, however, once they realize he is a foreigner, is quite nice and Im sure improved his opinion of the people considerably. :)
Reviewed by: Virtuella ✧ Score: 4
Oh, well, Aragorn would find out later that there would be another Eye to be feared even more - or maybe not? Maybe the horrors of Mordor are nothing compared to that of bizarre and cruel cuisine. This amusing story reminded me of a couple of Terry Pratchett characters - Sam Vimes being put to the test by his D'reg hosts in Klatch and Rincewind with his cravings for plain potatoes. Thanks for the chuckle!
Reviewed by: Larner ✧ Score: 4
For he who would in the end become King of Gondor and Arnor reunited and who must needs earn the respect and acceptance of many folk, learning to eat what others consume that one's own culture finds repulsive is a necessity. A delightfully humorous look at the more difficult problems faced by those who seek to truly experience the ways of others! A small but significant triumph, my friend.
Reviewed by: Inzilbeth ✧ Score: 3
Well I can honestly say that I sympathise totally with Aragorn here. But he handled the suituation extremely well and how he actually managed to keep down all that I did, I really don't know. Congratulations to Cairistiona for writing such an amusing and yet totally believeable piece.
Reviewed by: obsidianj ✧ Score: 3
That was a very enlightening meal for Thorongil. Having to eat what is put in front of you without knowing what it is, although that sometimes helps, is not easy. I loved the waiter who spoke perfect Westron. I don't think Thorongil expected the waiter to speak Westron when all the nobles apparently didn't speak it.
Reviewed by: NeumeIndil ✧ Score: 3
I had a similar experience at a Hibachi once, though thankfully only tentacles were involved. *shudder* I'm glad to see someone able to balance manners with curiosity and a little bit of disbelief when dealing with the tables of other cultures. Thank you for such a wonderful laugh!
Reviewed by: crowdaughter ✧ Score: 3
*snort* Poor Thorongil, exposed to the unexpected dangers of Wasabi! Thank you, this story gave me a good laugh, and I could feel with him through the whole meal. But I also loved the end - that resolution is true Aragorn. Well done!
Reviewed by: Lady Bluejay ✧ Score: 3
I think he was very brave to made any attempt at all - I think I would have been sick on the spot. An unusual and entertaining little story - the sort of little gem that tuns up whilst sifting through the Mefa nominations. Your knowledge or and research shone through. Thanks.
Reviewed by: Dreamflower ✧ Score: 2
Poor Thorongil! He was a far braver man than anyone ever knew, facing down a meal like that with courtesy intact (if not his appetite!)