Extra flavour

The scent of it is such a rare thing in this struggling, forsaken neighbourhood. “But of course it smells delectable,” I tell those who ask. “That’s real meat.” It not only smells good, it tastes good too. Tomato soup with roast red peppers and meatballs. Beef and vegetable soup: fresh carrots, fried potatoes, leeks, cauliflower, and — of course — beef-on-the-bone. Beautiful.

But, even though I sell meals full of the goodness of fresh meat, they always complain. “It’s a bit gamy,” they say.

I say, “That’s only extra flavour. And the toughness cooks out.” They never notice the toughness; don’t know why I bring it up.

“Stop complaining,” I tell them. “If you don’t like it, get it somewhere else.” And there’s a joke in that: I’m the only game in town for those who don’t want their meat from a can.

My neighbours blame the missing animals on me. “Where the hell’s your beef from?” they shout.

“Are you dim enough you can’t tell the difference between cat and beef?” I yell back. Still, I sell them soup at a discount, to appease them. Apparently it’s good soup, whether Fluffy’s the secret ingredient or not.

Ah, meat. They’ll do anything for it. And I’m glad of that. I’m an old lady now and there’s no one to look after me but me myself. And the bit of cash a good bowl of soup brings in does me good.

Oh yes.

7 thoughts on “Extra flavour”

  1. I liked it, although there were no real surprises. I especially liked the conversational bits, and also her own internal monologues. And that last paragraph (paragraphlet?) is a nice touch.

  2. I thought your descriptions of the soups on offer were lovely – made my mouth water. I also really enjoyed the conversational style and the musings.

    The end didn’t completely work for me. It feels like there is a slightly sinister build up about the meat in the soup, but no completion to it. I didn’t see a hint of what she might be using for meat (the cats seemed unlikely or if it was cat then I would have expected a hint in her internal musings).

  3. I like the sense of sinister build up that something is going on. Only on second reading did it become completely clear to me that domestic animals are the source of the meat – but I like this subtlety and it works with the tone.

    I thought the old lady was very real – not sweet old lady stereotype or the mean cynical old person stereotype but more everyday like those one knows and still clearly grumble and slightly dissatisfied in a way easy to associate with the elderly. Especially ‘I don’t know why I bring it up’ gives this real impression.

    Fluffy? Nooooo….

    Minor nits:
    ‘I’m the only game in town’ – this bugs me because of the other meaning (and nearby usage) of game, maybe you liked the pun (the ‘there is a joke in that’ seems to point to it) but it doesn’t work for me.
    In such a short form I don’t like the suggestion that the neighbours basically know but don’t think about it. For me there is only realistic space for the idea that it is a well kept secret OR the idea that everybody knows but not both.
    ‘Are you dim..’, I think this is slightly weak compared to the rest, both in that it is the most obvious reference to the missing animals and for me the least realistic bit of dialog.

  4. I think it’s interesting that some readers were not sure where the meat came from, while for others it was clear from the start! I definitely read it as not-actually-beef and as soon as the missing animals were mentioned, and cats, I accepted that it was cat.

    Minor story-building niggles – “on the bone” would be a mistake if you were trying to conceal what kind of meat you were using… and the richness of the other ingredients was slightly odd compared with the total lack of meat – if you can afford “posh” soups like that, and canned meat, can’t you afford just a little real meat? If meat is really really expensive/scarce (more than it is now), that does not come across.

    That aside, the tone is lovely and the personality of the central character (querulous old woman) is perfectly imprinted on it. I particularly liked the “I don’t know why I bring it up” which adds to the reality of the person.

    Excellent little tale – like Neil, I wished there was more to the secret!

  5. This is great, Roodles. The voice of the old lady is ace. Just grouchy enough.
    Nicely fleshed out (ahem). Her speech and asides to self are fab.

    Minor quibble: the dim sentence didn’t quite work for me either.
    “Are you so dim that…” would’ve worked better for me than “Are you dim enough you…”

    Me like!

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