The Thanksgiving Post: Dinner at Elrond’s

The Amber Room of Rivendell glowed with light, buzzed with a pleasant undertone of conversation, and echoed with the ringing peal of elvish laughter. The Amber Room was one of Rivendell’s lesser dining halls, usually reserved for intimate meals. This day its rectangular table hosted an irregular assortment of diners. Elrond sat in the position of honor at the head of the table. Arwen sat at his right, a vision in blue and silver. To her right, travel worn but beaming, sat Aragorn. An emissary from Thranduil sat at Elrond’s left, appearing somewhat off balance, if such a thing could be said of an elf. A few more of Elrond’s household filled out the rest of the table’s long sides.

Bilbo Baggins sat at the foot, elevated upon several cushions piled atop the seat of his chair.

Aragorn helped Arwen to a serving spoon full of a green bean and bacon casserole. The emissary stared at a heap of mashed tubers piled upon his platter. In a crater of the lumpy starch quivered a pool of gravy. Four empty wine glasses might have accounted for his bemusement. Glorfindel speared a morsel of white meat from the massive serving tray in the center of the table. The carcass upon the platter was beginning to look rather picked clean. From the evidence of Glorfindel’s platter, he was on seconds, or perhaps thirds.

“Again I ask,” quoth Glorfindel, “what purpose there is in this rustic harvest festival, here in the land of Elrond where seasons hold no sway ‘gainst Elrond’s will.”

“Your stomach appears to hold no compunctions,” Elrond said. “This feast is the whim of our guest Bilbo, who has graced our halls with his wit and his appetite for many years now, as mortals count years.”

Bilbo looked up, lifting his head from his chest where he’d apparently rested it while napping. Yet he answered as if he’d followed the conversation. “I dreamed last night, Glorfindel. It was a vivid dream of visitors from the Shire. It must have been a symptom of a spot of homesickness.” Bilbo picked up a knife and fork. “I feel no longing to leave the Last Homely House. Yet I can’t help but think of Bag End from time to time. Elrond was kind enough to host this feast, such as must be occurring from East Farthing to West Farthing today.” Bilbo shook his head. Then he said, almost to himself, “That dream was so real. I could almost declare, with Iluvatar as my witness, that I’d been paid a visit by one of my cousins from Tuckborough.”

“Master Baggins is too modest,” Elrond said. “He has labored over the meal since the early hours this morning, assisting in the kitchens. As, I’ve no doubt, he will be happy to tell us if pressed. Likely in verse.”

Bilbo smiled. He rose, removed the pillows from his seat, and climbed up to stand on the chair. Pausing to retrieve a half-full goblet of wine, he began to recite.

I sit beside the fire and cook this bird upon a spit,

while basting it with butter infused with thyme, salt, and mint;

Of chestnut paste and peppercorn I concoct a stuffing

by which I’ll prove about my skills I have not been bluffing.  

I sit beside the fire and cook the turkey we will eat

when upon the afternoon Elrond’s bell calls us to meat.

For still I hunger, though I consume six meals in a day.

I wonder oft what commestibles I may yet assay.

I sit beside the fire and think of dinners I have ‘et.

For as years slip by I fear there is much that I forget.

In the Homely House of Elrond memories I forsook;

Peradventure I ask, “Is this a turkey or a Took?”

Glorfindel’s silver fork slipped from his fingers to clatter on his platter, its two tines still thrust through a morsel of meat.

Bilbo drained his goblet as Elrond roared with laughter, while Arwen pounded a choking Aragorn on the back.