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Snippet: Hot Bowl
The Dime
There was a saying in Hark - that you could spot a newcomer to the region by putting a bowl of yesh in front of them and watch them eat. It wasn't just in the spearing technique; that was an outdated method of eating that only remained popular in certain districts. It was whether the person tried to eat the whole damn thing.

Em knew that Zion was a foreigner. Dthatéil was some country far to the east of Dantisse, behind a couple mountain ranges and bordering an ocean few seemed familiar with. Still, he prided himself of blending in, as a part of his occupation as a spy. And he was so damn cocky about it too. So Em couldn't resist taking him out for dinner and ordering him a piping hot bowl of yesh as repayment.

When the server brought it out for him, and her meager dish of stewed rice, she noticed Zion eying the spears carefully. If she hadn't been prepared for it, she would have overlooked his scan of the room, searching to see if anyone else was using the utensils. She was sure he mostly saw the customers foregoing the spears for the more common spoon, which he picked up himself. He was good. It was just one of the rare occasions when she knew he was out of his element.

The thing about yesh was the seasonings. The fish broth was a celebration of savory earthpepper kernels, manchin root, redleaf, stalks of tide grass; all completely inedible themselves, and served in the bowl alongside the tender pieces of seafood. The true Harkish knew that anything you couldn't spear was meant to be left in the bowl. But with the abandonment of the spears as the traditional eating utensil, foreigners came to the table with the assumption that everything was meant to be consumed, down to the last, woody slice of manchin.

"I'm not sure what you are expecting," he said, as he ladled himself a spoonful and paused to let it cool in the evening air. "And don't deny it either. You have some fairly clear tells." Then he put the yesh in his mouth and bit down.

"I don't know what you are talking about," she said, smiling at the wince of pain that crossed his face. He would be lucky if the earthpepper kernel hadn't cracked a tooth.