Written for the 2008 Baggins Birthday Bash.
A properly prepared meal shouldn’t simply taste good; the foods should look right together on the plate. A good cook knew that, and Sam Gamgee was a very good cook.
Harmonious, that was the word Mr. Bilbo had used. Foods should be harmonious, like flowers in a garden, or colours in a rainbow, or paints in a picture. There was pleasure to be taken from the sight of a well-presented dish, and the food just plain tasted better, too. Sam couldn’t abide a messy plate with the food lumped on it anyhow as if it didn’t matter.
Mr. Frodo understood. A dab hand at cooking he was, with such an eye for textures and colours as did a hobbit’s heart, and appetite, good. It was a rare treat to assist him in the kitchen, for Sam never had to wince or close his eyes at the clash of two vegetables that should never sit side-by-side.
On the Birthday, the year after old Mr. Bilbo left, Sam came up to Bag End to help Mr. Frodo prepare the meal. Such a measure of delight Sam had never known before as watching his master in the kitchen that morning; ever and anon he cast Sam a questioning look, seeking his advice on the ingredients he was adding, and Sam’s approving nod drew a smile that made his insides feel like the butter melting in the frying pan.
Later that night, after the guests had retired early to their beds, bellies overfull and heads muzzy with wine, Frodo came to Sam in the kitchen where he was finishing the washing up. Wordlessly, he took Sam’s hand and drew him unresisting, nay willing, down the hall to his bedchamber, where the heavy velvet curtains were drawn and a fire was burning on the hearth.
A feast for the eyes was Frodo Baggins, lying naked on his bed in the firelight. Harmonious, Sam thought, he was harmonious, like properly prepared food beautifully arranged on a plate. Plump ripe strawberries with clotted cream nestled atop rich buttery shortbread warm from the oven, that’s what he was, Sam decided, and leaned in to lap up some cream.
Sam licked his lips. Aye, there was no doubting a well-presented dish just plain tasted better, and to judge from the greedy manner in which Frodo was now lapping at him, he wasn’t the only one who thought so.