A movement touched the edge of his vision. And stopped, which the serving staff hadn't done. He looked toward the door.
"Nandi," he said, seeing Saidin standing, hands folded, expectant of something. With more staff behind her.
With a serving tray.
Probably the season's inaugural dish. It was a very formal house. And he couldn't offend the cook. He gave the event his full attention.
The servants brought the tray in and set out a very large flat bread, with an amazing array of foods atop, all appropriate, all seasonal. But on a green vegetable sauce.
"This is a new dish," he remarked.
And evidently set the staff somewhat aback--when cook herself had come into the hall, and waited--clearly--for his reaction.
"It's quite nice," he said, trying to salve feelings. "What do you call it?" He tried to learn new words and new things as they presented themselves. It was what the paidhi did in the ordinary course of his job.
"Pizza," the youngest servant blurted out. "Is this not in correct season, nand' paidhi?"
"Of course it is," he said at once. "Of course, pizza, nadi. I'm just--quite surprised." He could have broken into laughter--if he hadn't control of his face, and his voice. "It's wonderful."
"We hadn't the red sauce," cook said. "We're told it will come, but the plane was delayed by weather."
"One did think," madam Saidin said, clearly part of the conspiracy, "that after dealing with that unpleasant woman this noon it was a good day for a traditional food."
"It smells very good," he said. "Would the staff share? It's traditional to pass it around."
The servants looked excited. Saidin looked dubious, but cook said, "There're eight more in the kitchen. One had provided for the staff, nand' paidhi, by your leave."