Prosatio Silban and the Slipped Tongue

WHERE AND WHEN PEOPLE GATHER, so do their secrets.

Prosatio Silban slapped hot water on his back with a wet towel and let out a satisfied sigh. Nothing like a good steam to wash away the accumulated grime and cooking-grease, he thought with a relaxed smile.

Although epicurean Pormaris, like the Uulian Commonwell in general, followed a strict (though fluid) class hierarchy, one place where those social rules were somewhat relaxed was the city’s many public baths. Everyone from the highest Heir Second noble to the lowliest marketplace-porter or beggar – in short, all who could afford the two-in-copper admission fee – might occupy any of four tastefully frescoed ablution-chambers: hot bath, cold bath, sauna, steam-room. It was in one of the latter that Prosatio Silban now luxuriated, reveling in the all-surrounding invisibility.

Prosatio Silban and the Tavern Tale

THE BEST TOOLS COME WITH stories, and Prosatio Silban’s were no exception.

True, most of them – i.e., the overhead-dangling tangle of pots, pans, and cooking implements, along with a cork-sectioned drawer full of specialized knives – were acquired over a quarter-century ago as part of his galleywagon’s initial outfitting. But, as he related to a budding companion one night at Pelvhi’s Chopping-House, three exotic elements of his equipment-store came to him by a more circuitous route.

“Take my hydrator, for one,” he said, swirling his glass of blue duliac to release the spirit’s ineffable aroma. “A ready and steady water supply is important to any cook. However, my galleywagon’s architecture makes such a necessity somewhat challenging to engineer.”

Prosatio Silban and the Changed Life

THERE IS A RELAXED SENSUOSITY in winding down from a busy day, and Prosatio Silban always looked forward to it; in his case, the high point meant removing his artificial eyebrows.

AHHH! he sighed to himself, and rubbed his now-naked brow ridges. Much, much better.

The beefy cook-errant had been performing this nightly task for longer than he cared to remember, and it always filled him with gratitude: for the success of his chosen occupation, yes, but also for passing among his fellow citizens without provoking their curiosity about his earlier life.

For he had not always been The Cook For Any Price. Once upon a time, he had been a Sacreant – one of the Uulian Commonwell’s holy functionaries charged with maintaining social order, infrastructure, and convenience. He laid down the paired slices of grey mouse-fur and unreeled his memory toward his early youth …

Prosatio Silban and the Public Subterfuge

ANOTHER YEAR TRAVELED, PROSATIO SILBAN thought. And what has it gotten me except older? and perhaps, may it please the All-Mother, wiser?

The cook-errant consulted the small mirror hanging outside his galleywagon’s black-curtained sleeping berth. One artificial eyebrow was neatly applied; the other half-dangled like a drunken caterpillar. He frowned and shook his head. I’m out of resin-gum, of course. Do I have anything to substitute?

Exercise (A Prosatio Silban Amuse-Bouche)

“CONVINCE ME,” SAID THE outlander, “why I or anyone should believe in the Flickering Gods.”

“That is something I cannot do,” Prosatio Silban said, setting before her a bowl of rich vegetable soup. “I myself do not believe in them, either.”

Prosatio Silban and the Tourist Attraction

IT WAS A DAY LIKE many another at Prosatio Silban’s galleywagon, now parked in South Market’s Itinerants’ Quarter: hectic, rushed, and profitable. The beefy cook was scurrying up and down the portable kitchen/domicile’s three wooden steps – up to prepare orders, down to serve them – but for the most part, he enjoyed such moments’ manic velocity.

Busy shifts go by fast, he thought, a smile on his face and four lunches balanced on his outstretched arms. To a point, anyway. I’m glad it’s abating soon – I can’t wait to get off my aching feet!

No sooner had he formed that thought when a buzz-saw voice cut through his customers’ animated rumble: “And here, gentlemen and ladies, we have, by all accounts and with absolutely no doubt, the Commonwell’s finest cook, The Cook For Any Price – Prosatio Silban!”

Word to Bring Back: “Amphitryon”

– Definition: (French) n. person with whom or at whose expense one dines

– Used in a sentence: My father is a well-known and gracious amphitryon.

– Why: Aside from its capitalized Greek origin (Amphitryon was, according to Sophocles, a king of Thebes and companion to Heracles), famed 18th-century gastronome J.A. Brillat-Savarin is wholly enamored of its use in his seminal Physiology of Taste wherein it is synonymous with “host.” (If you’re going to steal, steal from the greats. Especially if they stole it first.)