Three blocks from here, and not far from Flooosh's bakery, a new Yistreian restaurant named "Tamvaus" has opened. Ghirbis Vlaan, one of my Evil Neighbors, is from Yistreia. She invited Thery and me to try it out with her -- perhaps as evidence that Yistreain cuisine does not consist entirely of mice. (She incidentally asserts that neither she nor the other Evil Roommates are breeding mice in their appartment, nor are they sending Sneaky Veffu over to our place to scout us, devour our precious beans, and soften us up for conquest. A likely story!)
For those of you who do not know, Yistreian food is, indeed, based primarily on mice. The very first appetizer on the menu was red mice marinated in port and pepper, and grilled on a skewer. Ghirbis was properly embarrassed. Thery, disloyally, pointed out that mice did not appear anywhere else on the menu. A likely story! I am sure that Tamvaus will start slipping mice into every dish, once they have the Secret Evil Teleport Gate to Yistreia properly set up in their pantry.
Although, Yistreian food is fearsome enough without the mice. Many dishes involve arhoolie leaves, which are pungent and spicy and fill the mouth with a spiky blue-orange pain. Ghirbis asserts that one is not supposed to eat a whole arhoolie leaf at once, especially if one has a very small mouth, but she did not see fit to warn me before I took that bite. Thery, disloyally, says that anyone who breathes fire should be able to eat arhoolie leaves comfortably. She is wrong.
Nonetheless, the dish of triangular noodles in cream sauce with liver, bacon, and chiffonade of arhoolie, was actually pretty good. Just don't eat the whole arhoolie leaf garnish.
But the unfortunate thing about Tamvaus, if not about Yistreia as a whole, is that, where a reasonable restaurant would have chairs at the table, Tamvaus has short stools upholstered in complicated red-and-blue brocades. This is a serious problem, and, I am sure, another part in the Plan of Yistreian Conquest. It means that I cannot have the waiter turn the chair around so that I can perch on the back of it and reach the table. Since the tables were small and the plates were large, there was barely room for all the food, and certainly not for the Zi Ri. So I had to levitate while I was eating, which is always awkward and pretentious.
Dustweed was invited, but zie did not come with us. Zie had a dinner date with Tethezai. Things are definitely improving there, in the sense that being executed three times and then imprisoned for life is an improvement over being executed three times and then buried alive. [Resurrection of the recently-slain is fairly easy on the World Tree, and corporal punishment is common; repeated execution is a standard penalty for many serious crimes. -bb] Dustweed was not in zir tears after the date, which I find quite remarkable. Zie did corner me for a long conversation about the practicalities of transaffection, though. Zie doesn't seem to actually be interested in Tethezai as a lover, but zie seems fairly convinced that zie will never get an offer from another Herethroy, much less two other Herethroy, so zie is considering taking Tethezai up on her not-quite-stated interest. Zie is, reasonably enough, worried about what kind of trouble zie will be in if zie is openly transaffectionate on top of whatever sort of curse or bad reputation zie already has. It is not clear to me that zie can make zir situation much worse than it already is. Zie did not appreciate that point of view, but zie did not argue too much.
(Note to self: when talking to Dustweed, do not say that the other Zi Ri in Vheshrame are less pleased with me than the other Herethroy are with zir. It is not true. Hezimmikainen did, certainly, make me live on my own. But the other Herethroy occasionally are moved to actual violence against Dustweed. I wonder what zie did...)