Friff leaves are best eaten fresh. That poses difficulties, since the friff maxillae only develop at high altitudes. Terminology can be confusing here – maxillae are actually modified pairs of branches that are loosely attached to the thick mainstem and crash together in high winds. The sound is said to resemble teeth chattering.
What you’ll most often find on the market is ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves. Don’t be taken in! These are simply leaves gathered from the canyon floor after the morning cyclone. They are not truly ‘fresh’. During the long fall from the clag spires, the leaves undergo atmospheric compression, and much of the subtlest juice is squeezed out. Next time you see these ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves for sale, check to see if they’re moist. If they are, a good half of the juice is likely gone. The long fall to the canyon floor also drains the leaves of most of the volatile compounds that give good leaves their distinctive smell. Ask the vendor to let you smell the leaves. If he does, they’re not fresh, and your vendor is a mountebank. No reputable vendor would risk their product that way.
Once you’ve secured fresh friff leaves (see management for a list of reliable vendors), suitably stored in individual pressure-containment vessels, lock your doors. Clear your evening calendar. Send your loved ones off to a spa. Friff eating is a uniquely solitary experience. More to the point, you’ll be out of commission for at least several hours, and you won’t want to be disturbed.
Occasional friff eaters can rent a consumption chamber (see management for recommendations). A serious friff eatery will provide a clean, private room, a sterile eating suit, and a new pair of silicon tongs. These are recommended to avoid injury. For those who can afford it, or who expect to eat friff on a regular basis, we strongly recommend the B&TR Infuser – the XB2 is the latest.
The key to friff eating is simple – get the leaf from its containment chamber and into your mouth as quickly and completely as possible. Truly fresh friff juices are absolutely toxic until neutralized by saliva. Only 7% of trained friff eaters die every year, though dental injuries are common – thus the silicon tongs. The Infuser, of course, simplifies the problem by sucking up the leaf through a macerating fan, and shooting it directly into your mouth through a wide tube. Once you’ve used the Infuser, you won’t go back to tongs – though it may take a full day to return to consciousness.
Those who’ve eaten fresh friff (and we have) say there’s nothing to compare with the taste of pure joy dancing along your taste buds and down your nerves to the gala in your spine. It’s simply the best flavor there is. Plus, it cures acne.
If you can’t afford fresh leaves, we’d say don’t bother. But we try to cater to the common humanoid as well as sophisticates, so our editor insists we add this: if you must eat ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves, try them with garlic and a little zoof powder. The garlic will cover the slightly rancid taste, and the zoof will disorient you enough that you may think you’re eating the real thing. Good luck, and please don’t tell us about it.
The main difficulty in befriending a Betel goose is the wings. For one thing, they’re not wings at all, but molecular-bond disruption planes that flicker within an 11-dimensional space. Mostly, you don’t notice it, but every now and then the flickering collapses a local tesseract probability, and an annoying film settles over every surface for a moment. Plus, they smell like ozone, and the wings get pretty warm.No one’s ever figured out just how the gooses travel. (Say ‘geese’ and you might as well set your comm to broadcast ‘TERRAN’. Only locals can pull off the half-guttural ‘jhooses’. Don’t try.) One minute, they’re hovering motionless across the room, and the next they’re sitting on your shoulder, crisping your ear-hair. Ultra-sonic flight, some say. Teleportation, say others. Me, I think they just walk. Those three legs have to be doing something, don’t they? I think they’re just walking in another dimension, and it takes a while for ours to catch up.You’re never quite sure you’re communicating with a goose (or jhoose). You can talk to it all you want, but they never say anything. Still, one morning you’ll wake up to find your blankets are made of super-soft Rtarian plum-skin, or that your sock drawer has been organized by total thread length. Or that you have a sock drawer. Take it all in stride, and you’re in for a beautiful friendship.
No one’s really sure what the jhooses get out of it. Theodore likes to perch on top of my rear head, which is good on cool days. I asked it (it’s not clear whether they have gender) once, on our first anniversary, what I could do to make it happy, and that very night, all my pots turned into durna-fiber – completely indestructible, a great heat conductor, and I can just fold them up to put them in the drawer. I admit, I haven’t yet found the trick of getting the durna-fiber to hold its shape, so it’s a bit like cooking in a bag. That’s life with a Betel goose, though. You never quite know what’s coming next.
Like the sound of soft fingers on skin, green palm fronds whispered amongst themselves. Their soft breath caressed his cheek as he listened for the slight scratching of frond cilia against stiff palm trunks. “Sam.” The breeze was stronger, the fronds closer. He could almost feel them tickling his face. “Sam. You’ll be late for work.” He stirred, allowed the cold waves to sift sand from underneath him. Gently, that was the way, no quick……