Mirrored from Sythyry.
(Chiver instantly got two jobs teaching mathematics, which was not the least bit troublesome.) For the next five months, Niia worked hard at her restaurant, Niia’s Nook. Her basic concept was right enough. The residents of the Quick Quarter, though not exactly tired of Arfaen’s cooking — one does not get tired of Arfaen’s cooking — were at least glad of a bit of variety from Arfaen’s style. The change from round to square plates, I think, was enough to get an extra visit from each customer. And Arfaen does, I think, overuse the sweet sauces just a bit, and Niia’s harsher, more intense style was a nice bit of variety.
But Niia encountered every problem that Arfaen had anticipated, and some new ones that we hadn’t warned her about. Her first week, Niia bought beef and venison and mutton from a butcher. In three Quick Quarter days, she had sold most of it. She sent a runner out of the Quick Quarter to the butcher she had chosen as her meat supplier — who had already sold most of his restaurant-ready cuts of meat for the day (since, for him, only nine hours had passed), and had only inferior ones to available.
Niia hired a variety of primes with a variety of skills, and whipped them into shape as decent kitchen staff. Most of them left her fairly quickly, after only a few months of Quick Quarter time. They didn’t want to get too old too quickly. This is, incidentally, official Kismirth policy — not that you can’t live your whole life in the QQ or even the QQQ and die very fast as the outside world measures time, but we do have a few ministers who make sure you understand the consequences of what you’re doing, and interrogate you once or twice a year.
Staff housing or feeding arrangements were another perplexity. If an employee lives in the QQ, he will need to be fed, clothed, and otherwise tended. This requires supplies and such that need to be brought in from outside, in vast quantity. The city brings in these supplies to sell to quicktimers, but the markup on these supplies is large, and Niia didn’t want to pay it. She brought in things on her own, and discovered why the markup is so large. In the end she would have been better off buying from us.
Or, the employee could live outside the QQ. This means that the employee would, say, go home to dinner and bed after a day of work, and come back in the morning — eighteen hours (real time) later. Which is to say, six days (QQ time) later. Niia could in principle have hired six times as many people as she would need in one day, and arranged their schedules well, but … there simply aren’t that many immigrants to Kismirth yet, and there are plenty of jobs for them to do, and why pick a temporally and magically exotic position in a mischancy venture like Niia’s when better choices are available? She could barely manage to hire one set of staff, much less six.
In the end, she wound up with a staff of mostly taptet, not primes. Taptet are congenitally less concerned about their own survival than primes. A small village of them moved into the QQ to work with Niia’s Nook. Not ridiculous of them, I think: they weren’t cutting down their lifespans relative to each other.
But hiring taptet was a moderate problem in its own right. Taptet are short — shorter than Rassimel, even. Niia’s kitchen was set up for primes. This meant that the taptet could barely use the stoves and counters without standing on stools. Standing on stools in a kitchen isn’t a wonderful idea.
Having antlers in a kitchen isn’t a wonderful idea either, especially when one is climbing around on stools a great deal. Pots and pans sometimes got ganked off their hooks. One unfortunate taptet had an impromptu bath in hot frying oil, and then an impromptu visit to the Healer’s Guild: poor Greblakaan’s first attempt at healing a taptet, and the poor taptet’s first time at being healed by a master-healer. (It worked brilliantly.)
And it cut into Niia’s business. Some of the more prime-supremacist clients don’t like Arfaen using taptet to carry food around. Those supremacists had been some of Niia’s most enthusiastic customers … until Niia started serving food, not only served by taptet, but even made by them.
Niia’s Nook never did that brilliantly. Arfaen’s kitchen didn’t have nearly as much logistical trouble getting food delivered, nor as much trouble losing cooks and other staff. Being able to cook food at convenient times for the chefs, and serve it in perfect condition at convenient times for the diners, is a huge advantage in more ways that I had realized. E.g., at the end of the day, Niia had to dispose of many gallons of food that perfectly of saleable quality, but which she couldn’t sell — some of which went to her staff, and some to garbage. Arfaen has much less of that problem: she can simply buy as much as she can cook, cook it all, and serve it at leisure, or send it to the Fucked-*p Firefly. Arfaen’s dinners will stay good until the World Tree grows branches above Ketheria.
And, in my opinion, Arfaen’s cooking is better, her menus broader and more interesting, and her presentation more beautiful. But I am biased — not so much by being Arfaen’s zpouse, but by coming from the same world-branch and culinary tradition. And knowing that Arfaen has a large staff of excellent chefs working for her, and so on.
Niia worked there, with all her fierce intensity of spirit and skill at cooking and organization. We rarely saw her outside of the Quick Quarter; every time she left for a night at home, she was away from the Nook for three or four days QQ-time, and it usually was diving into disaster by the time she got back. Niia’s Nook never failed. But it never got very far from failing, and only several loans from Arfaen and others kept it going.
Chiver rarely went to Niia’s Nook. He taught students in ordinary time, and, when he visited the Quick Quarter, Niia was generally furiously busy with the restaurant and didn’t pay him much mind.