9 CH9: Comfort foods

    "Food, like a loving touch or a glimpse of divine power,

    has that ability to comfort."

    - Norman Kolpas


    Days of interviewing potential hires were over but it still did not stop other people from sending over their resumes to the company. Stacks of papers were piled up on Delilah's table.

    Just a few minutes ago, the receptionist at the front desk had placed more CVs on Delilah's table, adding more to the pile. Delilah could only sigh in resignation as she looked at the piles.

    Firah peeked over her cubicle and asked, "Need some help?"

    Delilah looked at Firah as if she has just descended from the Heaven. "Yes please!" she pleaded, widening her eyes, similar to puppy sad eyes.

    Firah took half of the piles and placed it on her table. "I'll help you out. I don't have any work, anyway."

    Delilah narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "Wait, what about the reports that Matt asked you to do, the other day?"

    Firah waved her concerns away. "Aahhh... That one. I'll do that at the end of the month. I can't do it right now if the statistics that the admins gave me are still incomplete."

    Delilah nodded in agreement. "True, true."

    The two of them worked on the CVs in silence for a couple of hours.

    Delilah would placed the arranged stack of CVs, which was sorted according to the person's qualifications and levels of educations, near Firah. Firah would then key-in the details into their shared document in the computer.

    Just then, Howard came by, strutting into the room. Both Firah and Delilah were too focused on their work that they did not notice Howard standing behind them, watching them work.

    Howard cleared his throat loudly, trying to get their attention.

    Firah and Delilah jumped in surprise and turned around in unison.

    Delilah quickly covered her eyes and cried out, "OH MY GOSH! MY EYES!"

    Firah coughed and spluttered as she laughed at Howard, with tears sliding down her face. She stared at Howard's face, or more specifically, his new glasses.

    Howard frowned at the two women's antics. "What's so funny?" he asked in confused.

    Delilah rubbed her eyes. "No, the question is... What's up with your glasses??" she exclaimed.

    Howard smiled smugly as he pushed his glasses up his nose. "Isn't it gorgeous?" he asked.

    He was wearing a retro gold glitter semi rimless glasses with diamond studded on the top bar of the glasses. The sparkles of the diamonds shining brightly together with the gold glitter spread all over the rim. Just the combination of the colour and the jewelery had already made Delilah winced. It was so bright that it really stands out.

    "Uhhh... I guess so," Delilah said slowly. 'I don't think so!' she thought, staring at the glasses.

    Firah laughed out loud. "Are you serious, Howie?" she asked, using her pet name for him.

    Howard frowned down at her. "Of course! I've paid big bucks for this."

    Firah just shook her head, laughing as she turned back around in her seat.

    Howard then grabbed Firah's seat and turned her back around. "Hold on," he said. "I'm not done talking."

    Firah's eyes widened as she put her palms together in forgiveness. "Ehhhh...!" she exclaimed. "Sorry, boss!"

    Delilah smirked at Firah's antics. She knew that Firah was being sarcastic because she never did liked Howard. It probably started when there was an important talk with one of the government offices. She had high hopes for Howard when she was 'forced' into doing a presentation, instead of Travis. Firah did not wanted to do the presentation. She had wondered why they did not ask Travis to do it.

    Firah was happy when Howard said that he will talk to Matt about the exchange of the presenter. However, as days come closer to the talk, there were no news of Travis taking over the presentation. And when the day came, Firah found out that Howard did not really talk to Matt about the exchange. On top of it all, Howard only said, "Good luck" to her when the talk was about to start.

    Firah was disappointed but she was being professional about it. She did not let her emotions control her. So, she did the presentation and she had done it quite well. It was fortunate that she did practice her speech the night before, just in case.

    So, now she could only tolerate him in professional terms. Personally, she could not stand him.

    "As I was saying," Howard began. "Have the two of you done the reports that I asked of you?"

    Firah shrugged. "I haven't done mine. I just told Delilah that I still need some statistics from the admins."

    Howard turned to Delilah, with a look asking 'what about you?'.

    Delilah bit her lower lip and shook her head.

    Howard sighed. "Well, I guessed I expected too much of you."

    Delilah bit back her retort of 'What do you expect when people keep sending CVs?'. She did not want to argue with Howard. She has no energy to argue with someone who always think that they are right.

    The three of them talked for a few minutes, with Howard giving more tasks to Delilah to complete and Firah to assist her. Moments later, Howard waved goodbye to the two of them as he walked out of the offices.

    Delilah and Firah groaned, once he was out of sight.

    "This is why I dread the day when he comes to the office," Firah stated. "It's either to give more work or show off more of his outrageous fashion."

    "Or worse, both," Delilah added.

    The two of them worked all morning, stopping only when it was lunchtime.

    While Delilah was working, the phone on her table rang. She picked it up and said, "Hello. Delilah speaking."

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    "Hello, Delilah. There's a parcel here for you at the lobby. We need your signature for the confirmation of delivery," said the receptionist on the phone.

    "Oh, alright. I'll be right down."

    Few minutes later, Delilah returned with a medium-sized parcel. She then placed the parcel inside her bag.

    Firah peeked over and gestured at the parcel. "What's that?" she asked, curious.

    Delilah put her chin on her palm, with her elbow on the table as she surfed the Internet. "Ahh... Just something I ordered online."

    Firah looked over at the websites that Delilah had opened. 'Recipes for Takoyaki' the website reads.

    Firah just laughed in bemusement as she continued doing her work.

    A couple of hours later, there were more CVs being sent to Delilah, as the piles of CVs were left at their other colleague's table. He had forgotten to hand over the CVs to Delilah as he was rushing out of the office for his training.

    Since it was nearly time for the work day to end, Delilah and Firah could only managed to finished whatever they can and leave them for tomorrow.

    After the tiring day, Delilah went home, feeling mentally exhausted.

    As she entered her house, she was looking down on the paper in her hand. She managed to written down the recipe for takoyaki. And although, she was mentally tired, she was also hungry.

    She went to place her bags in her room before going into the kitchen. Luckily, she had brought all the ingredients needed for the takoyaki. All she needs to do is to prepare the batter.

    She began by taking out all the necessary utensils and placed them on the table. She then grabbed a large bowl and started to put the ingredients inside. Firstly, Delilah poured the dashi stock, eggs, salt and all purpose flour into the bowl. She then whisked them so that its mixed well.

    Secondly, Delilah set the batter aside and placed the takoyaki pan on the stove. She then dabbed some oil onto a paper towel and coated the pan.

    Turning the heat to medium, she poured the batter to fill the holes of the pan. She dropped small pieces of octopus in the batter in each hole. The whiff of the batter cooking reached her nose, smelling sweet and aromatic. She continued sprinkled chopped scallions and gingers all over the pan. The addition of scallions and gingers added to the smell, giving it a more peppery sharp and strong onion smell.

    Delilah then began to turn the takoyaki around. The first few takoyaki was a mess, making Delilah panic for a short while. She quickly added more batter to the hole and tried her luck to slowly turn the takoyaki. After a few turns, the takoyaki was cooked nicely, in an oval shaped. She cooked for a few minutes, constantly turning them around.

    Delilah then placed the cooked takoyaki in a plate. She arranged them nicely in rows, before pouring takoyaki sauce and Japanese mayonnaise all over them. She then sprinkled some dried bonito flakes.

    Watching the dried bonito flakes move, Delilah's eyes widened in amazement. She's always surprised by how the dried bonito flakes seems to be 'alive', writhing around, giving a strong fishy smell. The taste itself also tasted fishy, with some saltiness to it and a mild smokiness.

    Delilah speared one takoyaki, using a fork and blow on the hot food. She bit into the takoyaki cautiously, afraid that she might burned her tongue. As she chewed on the crispy texture of the takoyaki, the strong flavour of the dashi hits her. The inside of the takoyaki felt soft and fluffy as she chewed. The octopus piece felt chewy and does not have that strong seafood smell as it usually does. Added with the takoyaki sauce and the mayonnaise, the taste of the takoyaki combined the complimenting flavours of sweet, salty and flavoursome palate.

    Pushing aside some failed takoyaki to another plate, she poured takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise on them again. This time, Delilah used a spoon to scoop the takoyaki and blowed on it. She had to use a spoon because they break apart when Delilah tried to poked on them.

    Just as she finished eating the takoyaki, her brother, Munier, walked in, carrying a couple of plastic bags in his hands.

    Munier was Delilah's younger brother by 3 years. He was a tall and large man with a round face, wearing a light blue shirt with black chinos.  His hair was as dark as midnight and was cut short. His hooded eyes looking down at Delilah, who clearly enjoyed eating her takoyaki, from the look of enjoyment on her face.

    "Ehhhh...!" he said, accusingly. "You ate without me!"

    Delilah, with her mouth full, just gestured at the now half empty plate of takoyaki.

    Munier quickly placed the plastic bags on the table and grabbed the plate of takoyaki before Delilah finishes them all.

    The two of them quietly ate takoyaki in silence. A few minutes later, Delilah asked, pointing at the plastic bags he carried earlier, "What's that in your bag?"

    Munier slapped his forehead as he just remembered something. He quickly grabbed the plastic bags and took some food containers from inside. He then placed them in front of Delilah and said, "I just remembered that I bought some teppanyaki and sushi earlier."

    Delilah smacked him on the shoulder. "Why didn't you take it out earlier?" she scolded. "It might not taste as nice if you leave it alone for a long time."

    Munier rubbed his shoulder, with a pained look on his face. "I forgot, okay??" he exclaimed.

    He then opened the container and took a piece of cut teppanyaki. He turned to Delilah, "What's with the sudden craving for Japanese?"

    Delilah shrugged. "I just need some comfort foods after work," she replied.

    Munier chewed on the teppanyaki and said, "Well, food itself is a comfort, anyway."

    Delilah laughed softly as she ate one of the sushis. "DEE-finitely so true!"
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