The steak was succulent. The chicken juicy. The entire meal had a certain…character to it. Vikram tucked into it with unusual abandon.
Ana finally spoke when Vikram had finished licking his fingers.
“You like it?”
“Like it? It’s magical! Where did you find this genius chef?”
“Oh, he’s good, no doubt. But the magic here lies in the ingredients and also,” she hesitated before adding, “the meticulousness with which they were sourced.”
“Stop!” My companion smashed his fist on the bar counter, spilling some of his beer in the process. “I’m not going to listen to any more of this tripe – I can see the twist coming a mile away. This Ana lady served him a human being, didn’t she?” he asked.
I smirked in that annoying way which always got on people’s nerves.
“No, she didn’t. How predictable would that be? And who said anything about there being a twist anyway?”
“Fine. Continue then,” he said.
“Where was I? Oh right, the source.”
“Where do you source your food from?” Vikram asked.
“We grow it ourselves,” Ana replied.
“What’s your secret?” he asked as he not-so-discreetly mopped the remnants of the thick meaty sauce from the plate with his fingers and licked them.
“Our animals are on a special diet. So are our vegetables. We don’t use ordinary feed or fertiliser.”
“She grinds humans up into the fertiliser and the feed, doesn’t she? Is that it? It’s even lamer than I thought!” My companion raged.
“Why are you being so morbid? And I do agree — that would have been very lame. Now, if you don’t have any more theories, shall I continue?”
He took a large gulp of his beer, and nodded. A cold determination had crept into his eyes.
I smirked again.
“I’d love to meet and compliment the chef in person. This was the best meal I’ve had in my life,” Vikram said.
“I’ll summon him immediately,” Ana made a couple of gestures at the server.
A few seconds later, a voice coughed behind him. Vikram looked up to see a tall slender man in a chef’s hat standing over him.
“Well, that was quick. I didn’t even hear you come in,” Vikram said to the chef as he shook his surprisingly cold hand.
“Meet The Count, our head chef. He has apprenticed under a lot of culinary masters and is now a man who possesses the sum of their skills. He’s absolutely lapped up their talents, so to speak,” Ana said.
The Count smiled at him. Vikram smiled back. The Count’s teeth glinted.
“This, sir, isn’t chic-lit!” I said with as much indignation as I could muster.
“What’s your secret?” Vikram asked.
“Would you believe, cauldrons? I always cook in cauldrons. And I like to sing with the other chefs while I do it. That helps immensely,” The Count replied.
“That’s…interesting,” Vikram said.
“Surely, there must be something else?” Vikram probed further. He knew The Count was hiding something.
The Count hesitated for a bit, then leaned into Vikram’s ear and whispered.
“Nope,” I said.
“Salt. Lots of it,” The Count said. “And a shitload of MSG,” he added with a wink.
“You’re horrible at spotting the twist,” I said to my companion. And then I ate him.
Telling that story always gives me the munchies.