Storytime with Stidmama

Chapter Fifty Two

September 25, 2006

Gabe was the youngest of Adam and Ava's boys.

He spent his youth in the shadow of his elder brothers, Abram and Peter, and to a lesser extent Tor and Paul.

While Abram and Peter and Paul were clearly destined for happy domestic lives, toiling in the fields and enjoying their families, and Tor was cut out for the rugged life of adventure, by the time Gabe was five years old it was apparent that he was more an indoor type.

He was a dreamy child, always with his nose in a book or sitting in the kitchen asking "what if" of his mother while he stirred a pot or rolled out dough.

He was happier playing with his sisters Nancy and Gilly than with his brothers or the other boys of the village. And though he never shirked his farm chores, neither did he linger over them or invent new ones just to stay outside.

As he grew older, he became known for his jolly laugh and the harmless little jokes he would play on adult and child alike. Never mean-spirited, he managed to endear himself to everyone who came near.

When he was through with school, his father wisely found him a position at the Inn working for the cook (the innkeeper's wife) as all-around helper. In this way, he was supervised and able to meet and entertain many people while he earned his keep.

In no time, the training he had received at his mother's and grandmother's sides allowed him to take over the majority of the cook's duties. Shortly thereafter, the Inn became known for its magical pies (ease your burdens at the first bite) and savory treats (you feel you're home).

Gabe thrilled the youngest villagers with small treats made from leftovers and scraps -- candies for special celebrations and cookies for everyday. He made a point of slipping a bit extra into the hands of poor regulars who came for their daily "pint" and warm conversation.

On the rare occasion he took a break, his rotund figure (for none enjoyed his culinary skill as much as he) could be found at a dance, squiring around one girl after another -- for his cooking was matched only by his dancing. Yet the other young men were never jealous, and he was soon much in demand, standing up beside the grooms as they married the pretty village girls.

His best friend by this time was another young man from the village who enjoyed good food and drink almost as much as Gabe. They made a good team in the kitchen of the Inn, turning out victuals as fast as the customers could order them. The innkeeper and his wife were pleased to have them, and soon gave them free reign with the business. Unfortunately, the young men were less skilled at the other aspects of innkeeping, and while they brought customers in with the food, they lost money on the accomodations.

Gabe was not happy about being returned to "hireling" status, and began to stop by the school every so often to consult with the teacher on bookkeeping skills. With his savings, and the love of his family behind him, he and his best friend decided to set up a tavern in a town out on the plain, as the village already had two fine establishments.

The tavern, Gabe and Gordon's Gourmet, was a success almost from the beginning. Knowing where their best chance of success lay, they chose to avoid the expense of extra help needed for stabling and accomodations, and focused on preparing fine meals for dinner and supper. They served good food at reasonable prices, and always had a child sit by the back door ready to serve the less fortunate.

The town rewarded both their hard work and their generosity with a constant stream of customers and the business prospered. The two men became an institution in their new hometown, going everywhere together -- whether the market for the best and freshest ingredients or the many town meetings where their comments were generally well considered and thoughtfully presented. Parents began to ask to apprentice their children -- and the men took on many who in later years would be great cooks and chefs in their own right.

They soon built a small apartment in back of the tavern, with a pretty garden and a large stone building for brewing ales. They spent their mornings tending to the garden and preparing the large roasts and stews, and their evenings entertaining the guests.

Gabe was happy. He went home once a year and enjoyed playing with his nieces and nephews, serving fine meals to his parents and siblings, and enjoying the slow pace of life on the farm. But he was always ready to return to his love, the tavern and the town.