We last left Hannistina rushing home from the BonMuffin Bakery...rushing from the short, bald man who sighed and dreamed over her next culinary disaster. Poor Dudley!
Hannistina hurried from the cold, brisk evening into the warm kitchen. She wrinkled her delicate nose. The smoke still hung in the air and tainted the ambiance with the smell of imperfection. She quickly set the table with the succulent offerings and whisked away her canvas tote into the back bedroom. She was not a moment too soon, because there came a knock from the front door that sent shivers down her spine. Hannistina hurried to the front door, pausing only long enough to glance in the hall mirror and see her cheeks glowing and eyes sparkling from the excitement. She grandly opened the front door with a flourish, but the sight at her front door took her breath away.
Hannistina smiled slightly and asked, "May I help you?".
"Yes. I am Georgio Ghiradelli. I am looking for Miss Hannistina Hershey. Is she here?".
"Please come in. I've been so looking forward to meeting you." Hannistina recovered from her shock as she stepped back and motioned him in. She realized that he was standing in his coat and hat and remembered to offer to take them. Her eyes widened as he took off his hat. His hair was even redder than it had first appeared when she had first laid eyes on him!
Georgio laughed a loud, abrasive laugh. "Most people expect me to be the tall, dark and handsome man that my name implies. I understand the shock. I hope the disappointment doesn't ruin our evening!".
Hannistina flushed with shame. How could this presumptuous man read her mind?
"I am so sorry, " she replied. "I did not mean to offend you. I just..."
He interrupted, "Your house is filled with a mixture of smells." His face scrunched as he worked to sort the smells in his mind. Without any prompting from Hannistina, Georgio followed the mixture of scents wafting from the kitchen.
"I have a nose that knows food smells, some even call me the 'savant of scents', but this is a combination that I have never before encountered." Hannistina followed him meekly, knowing that she did not want to explain. Maybe he would let it go. Before she entered the kitchen, her heart was struck with horror as her eyes went from the beautiful tablescape to her stove top. She spied the large pot of chili on the back burner, still simmering!
"Ah, what have we here? A ragout, of course. You must taste mine...". His voice died away as he discovered the true contents of the pot. "Oh, yes, of course. You Americans rank supreme in the making of meals such as this. One pot wonder, no doubt. The only thing I wonder is how a person of taste can enjoy something so very homespun." He said the word 'homespun' as if it were a curse word.
Irrational though it may be, Hannistina instantly began defending her chocolate-laced chili, which she had been more than willing to wish out of existence the moment before. Hot words spewed back and forth, hers praising the simple cook with soul, his praising the extraordinary ingredient. The result was this mutual ultimatum...each would try the other's fare and critique it in light of their extremely high culinary principles. Hannistina retrieved a fresh spoon from her immaculate silverware drawer and scooped a sample of the fateful chili, making sure to give the spoon a dramatic swish to highlight her 'soulful' creation.
Georgio tasted, tasted again, then rested his features into an arrogant smirk. (the beast!)
|I am fairly certain these were in my dream last night...along with fried chicken. Don't ask...it's a pregnancy thing.|
"You call that a masterpiece? You have no idea to what heights a truly fresh, high quality product can carry you..." His speech lasted for eight more minutes, despite her ferocious staring. At last, he daintily put on his white silk gloves, retrieved his refrigerated briefcase and began to open. Hannistina caught a glimpse of her heart's true desire...truffles, truffles, and more truffles. Each truffle was enclosed in its own temperature-controlled plastic compartment inside the briefcase, so as to be absolutely perfect for the lucky taster. A small hiss of air escaped as Georgio opened the case of a dark chocolate confection. With white-gloved hand he cautiously picked up the tender morsel, fanning it lightly with his spare hand. The aroma of the chocolate brought goosebumps all over her Hershey's kiss-gorged body. She took a bite. Somewhere in the distance she was sure she heard strings crooning out their romantic melody. She closed her eyes...