ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem is from the May 5, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] kyleri and LJ user Wyld_dandelyon. It also fills the "good nutrition" square in my 5-2-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics and is a direct sequel to "A Reflection of Your Energy," so read that one first or this won't make much sense.

Special thanks to [personal profile] kyleri for providing local color details about Plymouth and surrounding areas. Any time I'm writing about a specific place, I welcome input from people who have or are living there. It really helps me put the boots on the ground.


"Tomato Pie and Ice Cream"


The day after exposure to unknown zetetic substances,
nobody was showing signs of digestive trouble,
so the SPAZMAT team switched their diet
from safe and bland to comfort food.

"You can make whatever you want out of the supplies
in your own living module," Anh said from the vidscreen.
"We can also bring you takeout from your favorite restaurant,
if you like. What sounds good to you right now?"

"Tomato pie," Derreck said at once. After oatmeal
for breakfast and cream of chicken soup for lunch,
he craved something he could sink his teeth into.

"We'll get right on it," Anh said. "More good news
from the lab: it looks like nobody's immune system got
knocked offline either. It's not safe to leave quarantine yet,
but you're probably looking at that two-week timeframe,
plus you can meet up with Joanne and Wrex if you want."

"That is good news," Derreck said. He was darkly grateful
that Pizzo wasn't included, as his injuries had required
the services of a full-sized hospital with quarantine facilities.

They wound up eating at Derreck's place since it already
had dog hair everywhere from Blitz. Supper arrived
in the form of Derreck's tomato pie, Joanne's meatloaf, and
three different flavors of ice cream from Merrymead Farm
requested by Wrex who drove to work from Worcester.

Is that ice cream? I want some. Can I have some?
Can I, boss, huh huh, can I?
Blitz said, circling
rapidly around Derreck's legs.

"Oh, look at those big puppy eyes," Joanne said.

"You can lick my bowl, if any of this is safe,"
Derreck said, peering at the labels.
"No on the Moose Trail; it has chocolate.
So does the Coconut Almond Joye."

Blitz sat down and whined, a long rising keen.
But I want ice cream! Everyone else gets ice cream!

"Everyone else is human," Derreck said.
"Chocolate is toxic for dogs. Even too much
dairy will make you sick. Remember that time
you ate a whole carton, paper and all, and
got the runs so bad I had to take you to the vet?
You hate that, so stop whining."

"I asked for vanilla too, in case anyone
didn't like ice cream with stuff in it," Wrex said.

"Okay then, Blitz can lick my bowl," Derreck said.

"What's this?" Joanne asked, unpacking the tray
onto the little table in the dinette. A brown paper bag
said Dessert for Blitz on the side in black marker.

Derreck peeked into the bag. It held a beef shank
fresh from the butcher, with shreds of pink meat
still clinging to the white bone in places.
"Leg of cow," he said. "Good choice."

Oh boy oh boy, a bone, I get a bone,
is it a good bone?
Blitz said, tail thumping.

Derreck smiled. As serious as Blitz could be on the job,
at home he was all dog. "It's a great bone. As soon
as you finish your supper, you can have it."

The meatloaf had come with a carton of turnip greens
and a separate tub of fragrant brown gravy. Since
Derreck didn't like gravy on his meatloaf, he
poured his share over the kibble in Blitz's dish.

That made Derreck wonder if feeding Blitz
in a regular dog dish was still appropriate.
He had heard of superpowered animals
eating off china dishes, but he didn't know
if that was real or just a ridiculous rumor.

"My mom makes meatloaf like this,"
Joanne said as she cut slices for everyone.

Derreck shook his head. "Mine uses ketchup
as a topper. That's why I don't like gravy on it."

"Cheese in my family," Wrex said, and the words
brought the sight-taste-smell of meatloaf
slathered in slices of baby Swiss.

They hadn't quite gotten the hang of
their new superpowers yet, so things
still tended to spill over accidentally.

The excellent food did a lot to fill up
the nagging pit of appetite that had
plagued Derreck since yesterday,
his body demanding nutrients
to repair all the damage.

Sitting down to share a meal with
new friends also helped restore
a sense of normality after the
disruption of quarantine.

When the crunching stopped,
Derreck checked that Blitz
had finished eating, then
handed over the coveted bone.

Blitz's reply of wordless bliss made him grin.

Wrex handed out the ice cream,
gently teasing Derreck about
choosing plain vanilla.

"I like vanilla," Derreck said,
"but you know, a really good vanilla
like this, not the soft-serve crud that
doesn't have any real flavor. I want
to be able to see black specks in it
from scraping out the vanilla bean."

"I think of ice cream as a way
to hold the chunky stuff together
and keep it cold," Wrex said.

Joanne laughed. "I prefer mine
with swirls, but I don't care whether
it's chocolate like this or fruit sauce."
She dug into the Coconut Almond Joye.

Derreck glanced at the vidscreen
where Anh kept an eye on them.
"What about you?" he asked.

"I don't like ice cream that's too sweet,"
she said. "I go for more savory flavors
like red bean or green tea."

"Ooo. We should do sushi some time,
and mochi for dessert," Wrex said.
"I like wrapped ice cream too."

"I'll make a note," Anh said as she
typed it into her laptop.

Derreck set his empty bowl on the floor
and leaned back. "Okay, Blitz,
you can have this."

Blitz cleaned the bowl with a few
swipes of his tongue, chasing it
along the tile floor, and then
returned to his beef bone,
radiating happiness.

Getting caught in an exploding lab
had sucked, Derreck mused, but
it wasn't so bad when you had
people to take good care
of you after the fact.

* * *

Notes:

Eating to recover from injuries may benefit from easily digestible foods, high-nutrient foods, and/or comfort foods. SPAZMAT knows how to handle a wide range of dietary needs. Zetetic materials have a cluster of common symptoms from exposure. This particular batch seems to be non-toxic (thus avoiding the digestive and immune issues) but highly corrosive (hence the contact burns).

Tomato Pie and Merrymead Ice Cream are characteristic dishes of the Plymouth area.

Dogs love food meant for humans, but not all of it is good for them. Most dogs can't digest lactose, and chocolate is downright toxic for them. Gravy is popular if you use a simple recipe low in salt and fat, without onions, that relies on umami flavor.

Dog personality derives from individual traits and breed characteristics. As working dogs, German Shepherds have a very serious mindset -- but they also have a boundless enthusiasm that comes out in play or with food. Derreck shares much the same personality pattern. Police dogs and other service dogs need downtime as well as jobtime, and there are different methods of distinguishing that. For Blitz, his badge is the "work" signal, and his personality is very different on the job vs. at home.

Dogs love to chew on bones for evolutionary reasons. Know how to accommodate this safely.




Asian ice cream includes savory flavors like green tea and red bean. Mochi is a wrapped ice cream treat, and you can make your own.

Unlike a lot of my characters, Derreck really appreciates when people take care of him. A key trait of highly likable people is that they readily exchange favors. For Derreck, help-seeking has proven a very rewarding approach to problems. That enthusiastic approach to teamwork is part of what makes him such an effective K-9 handler.

OH, this was fun.

Date: 2015-05-07 08:32 pm (UTC)
dialecticdreamer: My work (Default)
From: [personal profile] dialecticdreamer
This reminded me of a much quieter version of our family dinners, with a "conversation cap" just to keep from giving readers whiplash, LOL.

Thanks for the link to tomato pie--I love the implications such a simple change in "pizza" can bring, both in characterization and in local color.

The characters are all different, not merely because of their food preferences. Somehow, you've managed to imply the different preferences come from their personality and heritage, with very few words. I'm impressed.

Love this!

Date: 2015-05-07 08:32 pm (UTC)
librarygeek: cute cartoon fox with nose in book (Default)
From: [personal profile] librarygeek
I just read this whole thing aloud to my 10 year old daughter. We just got a pit bull mix rescue from http://www.ccspca.org/ and they're enjoying me read aloud the poetry to them together! :-)

It's warm here today, and since we don't have central air, we're enjoying ice cubes to cool off here today.

Oh, local dog event just passed, includes K-9 demonstrations for Plymouth Township: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/PhillyFive-Things-to-Do-May-3-2015.html For pooches: It’s a dog’s day out at WMGK’s 13th Annual DeBella Dog Walk. From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., dog owners can take their four-legged buds to Green Lane Park (2144 Snyder Rd., Green Lane) to play game — like musical hoops and doggie tic tac toe — vendors, music and food. Also contests like “longest kiss between owner and dog” if you’re into that sort of thing.
Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/things_to_do/PhillyFive-Things-to-Do-May-3-2015.html#YKJkrJ2t2WG2RvD0.99
Edited (DeBella Dog Walk added) Date: 2015-05-07 08:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Love this!

Date: 2015-05-08 06:16 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
Ooh, I love Green Lane Park, it has excellent rocks for clambering over.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 12:04 am (UTC)
stardreamer: Meez headshot (Default)
From: [personal profile] stardreamer
Thank you for the tomato pie link -- I couldn't imagine what that might be (since I don't use "pie" to mean "pizza"), and the nearest thing I could come up with was a sort of savory quiche made by pouring beaten eggs over layered tomato slices in a pie shell. Which might actually be good, but isn't what you were talking about.

Cheese on meatloaf codes as weird for me, but then so does ketchup as a topping. I'd be willing to try gravy, but normally what I put on mine is Worcestershire sauce.

My current two favorite ice creams are both in the Private Selection line from the Kroger's / Ralph's chain: Amaretto Cherry Cordial and English Toffee Caramel. The former is a good evocation of a high-quality cherry cordial candy, cherry-flavored ice cream with flaked dark chocolate and big chunks of actual cherries mixed in. The latter is dark chocolate & toffee chunks and a caramel ribbon in a vanilla base (and it's a good vanilla, with real flavor) and is amazingly addictive, if you like toffee.

Unlike Wrex, though, I don't insist on having Chunks Of Stuff in my ice cream; I'm also fond of fruit-flavored sherbets and will frequently combine them with chocolate ice cream to simulate a fruit-cream truffle.

Food noodling aside, it's nice to see these characters deriving comfort from good food and good company.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 03:46 am (UTC)
helgatwb: Drawing of Helga, holding her sword, looking upset. (Default)
From: [personal profile] helgatwb
And my family puts marinara sauce on our meatloaf. Sometimes we stuff it with cheese.

I like this, I especially like Blitz.

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 04:11 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
Awwww, this is lovely. So sweet and comforting to read. ^_^

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2015-05-08 04:37 pm (UTC)
lynnoconnacht: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lynnoconnacht
They did. I'm glad they've got each other to spend time with. Sounds like there might be some good friendships building here. ^_^

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-08 06:17 pm (UTC)
kyleri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] kyleri
*happydances* *delight*

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-09 02:16 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
This is just lovely and warm and fuzzy. I don't think I ever even imagined saying that about a quarantine situation before tonight. :) Darnit, now I want ice cream. I like Anne's green tea and red bean selections, although I don't object to much, ice cream-wise. As for meatloaf, my family puts ketchup on ours. I'd never heard of putting much else on it until now. The cheese idea sounds better and better.

Blitz, your off-duty exuberance is a particular sort of adorable. So says the gal who sees shades of a wiggly Labrador in every happy dog ever. <3 :( 3q

(no subject)

Date: 2015-05-07 08:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] janetmiles.livejournal.com
Green tea ice cream is, as far as I can tell, the only format in which I like tea. It's also really good with a dash of wasabi.

I guess maybe at some point Derreck can ask Blitz about the bowl?

I do hope everyone continues to recover well, and that if the superpowers stick around, they are able to learn to cope without too much psychological / emotional distress.

Thoughts

Date: 2015-05-08 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ysabetwordsmith.livejournal.com
>> Green tea ice cream is, as far as I can tell, the only format in which I like tea. It's also really good with a dash of wasabi. <<

:D I like it too.

>> I guess maybe at some point Derreck can ask Blitz about the bowl? <<

Could be.

>> I do hope everyone continues to recover well, and that if the superpowers stick around, they are able to learn to cope without too much psychological / emotional distress. <<

There will be bumps, but overall they should be okay because they're resilient people and have good support. Wrex is likely to have the roughest time because he was caught completely off-guard by this, whereas Derreck and Blitz headed into danger on purpose. Yes, the new superpowers are permanent.

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