An extract from my NaNoWriMo project for 2016. Lana Donati runs a medieval-themed tapas restaurant in the Yorkshire Dales, Here Be Flagons, with her brother Tom. In this section, temperamental chef Deano (currently my favourite character) is preparing for a visit from a committee deciding whether the Tour de France route is going to run through their village.
Some strong language.
“Deano, can you -” I stopped short when Deano turned to grin at me. “Jesus, what the hell are you wearing?”
“Good, isn’t it? I got it off a website specially for today.”
He was in a white t-shirt, emblazoned in big, glaring black lettering with the legend I’m a Yorkshireman, born and bred: strong in t’arm and good in bed.
“Hang on. It’s ‘weak in t’head’, isn’t it?”
“I liked this version better.”
“Why’s it so tight?”
“I got an extra small.” He patted his little cotton-hugged belly. “No harm giving them the goods, right?”
I shook my head. “No, Deano. You are not sexing my committee. You’ll have to change.”
“Oh, what? You’re not my real mum.”
“I am today. I’ll get Tom to lend you a shirt.”
“That lanky git?” He glanced down at his round tummy. “I’ll pop all the buttons.”
“You’ll be fine. Suck in.” I scanned the bowls and plates covering every surface. “So what’ve you got for us then?”
“All sorts. Those lucky bastards. If we don’t get the route after this I’m hanging up my stripy apron.”
I picked up a bowl of something black and held it to my nose. “What’s this, anchovy paste?”
“Don’t do that!” Deano hissed, grabbing the bowl off me and setting it down reverentially. “That’s caviar, you daft cow!”
“Caviar?” My eyes went wide. “Shit, Deano! We haven’t got the budget for caviar!”
“It’s fine, I sourced it off a mate from college. Owed me a favour.”
I cast a worried gaze over the rest of the food. It all looked a bit… dainty.
“Haven’t you got anything proper?” I asked.
“What you on about? This is proper.” He pointed to a plate of something that looked vaguely potatoey. “Look. Garlic rissoles.”
“No, I mean anything local?”
“It’s all local. I got the ingredients straight from Gerry, same as always.”
“Local as in local dishes. You know, mini Yorkshire puds with a bit of beef in them, dock pudding tarts, that sort of thing. That’s what we need. It has to be about here.”
I could see his brow lowering.
“Not that all this stuff doesn’t look great,” I said quickly. “Obviously we’ll serve it. But you can whip up a few more things, can’t you?”
“In two bloody hours?”
“I’ll let you wear the t-shirt.”
He folded his arms. “Nope. Not good enough.”
“Come on, Deano,” I said in my best pleading tone. “It’ll be a challenge. This could be your crowning achievement.”
“You can snog me.”
“Right.” He grabbed his apron and pulled it over his head. “Let’s get cooking.”
He pulled down a skillet from over the cooker and drizzled it with olive oil, his brow furrowing in concentration. “I’ll need more eggs,” he said over his shoulder. “Oh, and some double cream, onions and a bottle of Henderson’s Relish.”
“And get red wine!” he called as I pushed open the door to leave.
“Right,” I frowned. “What’s that for, gravy?”
“No, me. This is going to be thirsty work.”