Michael woke before dawn. He didn’t know how or why he did, but he did. And he did every single morning. It was probably habit, but he didn’t care. All it did was make him roll over in his bed and groan. But by then someone was knocking on his shop and he could hear the vendors shouting.
“Please shut up.” His voice was whiny as he sat up in bed. The sheets crumpled around him as he pouted, tugging the dingy shirt he’d slept in off and tossing it onto the even dingier floor. “I’ll be out soon!” that was shouted towards the people outside his door. He grumbled and grumped as he got dressed. The bright pants and colorful shirt were the only really findable things in the room.
“Come on, Mikie.” The vendor pounded on the door. “We won’t wait for you to pick the berries. Not even the advertisement of a good cook doesn’t pay for these fruits!” As he went to knock again, Michael popped his head out of the doorway and grinned.
“I’m here, I’m here! Can’t a guy get dressed before he greets the people he uses to make what you assume to be a living.” He didn’t even get to step into the hallway before bag of strawberries and several partially rotted apples were thrust into his face. “No rotten fruit and I bought strawberries yesterday.”
“I’ve got raspberries” The juicy little morel were almost thrust up Michael’s nose by the time he managed to look at them. One pinch, a burst of juice and he was exchanging money for the basket of goodies. With those as a base, he used a critical eye on the rest of the food items.
“The banana, the sugar, the flour and those blueberries!” With that shout and a few angered hand-waves, the crowd of shop owners slowly cleared. By the time he’d bought all he needed for the days supplies of desserts, there was nothing but a trickle of people walking by his little stand.
In the back, Michael groaned when eh noticed the fire had gone out while he slept. The ashes on the ground were cold. Even after a few minutes of digging, he didn’t find any red coals. Another groan before he grabbed his piece of flint and his little fire bag. A few snaps of his wrists, a cut finger and more grumbling later, there was a small but hot fire burning.
The bowls lying next to the fire had been cleaned the night before. The flour and sugar splashed together into a bowl of cold water, along with the blueberries. Michael quickly ground and crushed them all together into a blue paste. A bit of yeast he kept stored next to the fire and an egg he’d bought with an earlier purchase finished the batter in the quickest and simplest way he could.
With that batter sitting off to the side and the fire heating a butter-greased pan, Michael grabbed the bunch of bananas he’d gotten. They were fresh enough to mash smoothly, quickly forming the paste he wanted. A little extra sugar and that joined the batter of the side. He checked the butter on the pan with a jerk-and-touch move that left him smiling widely.
The blue batter formed perfect little ringlet on the pan with he continued to mix the bananas. By the time he flipped the cookies over, the banana mush was almost whipped, lifting up and tasting sweet.
The cookies soon lay in little piles on the pan, no longer on the fire. Each cookie got flipped over and placed on a plate before he spread a thin layer of the banana mush across it. Once half of them were covered and lined up on thin and somewhat brittle clay plates, he tossed the rest into a bowl.
The raspberries, which had sat at his side the entire time, came into his focus. Setting the juicy bits out on in front of him, he cut them very carefully. Three cuts down the sides, leaving the very middle intact. Raspberry flowers sat in the center of each cookie, staining the banana a reddish-orange color where the juices mixed.
“Awesome!” Michael was grinning ear to ear as he took the plate and the bowl and placed them on the counter facing the customers. People had already began to mill about there, buying fruits and foods and meats. Very few took note of his shop until he stepped out, shouting and waving the plate. “Blueberry cookies with banana and raspberry! Sweet and tangy and fresh off the oven, still warm! Plain cookies, tangy blueberry cookies! Try them all!”
The crowds that formed never took long to either decide he was too expensive, too loud or too annoying for their taste. But the ones that did buy always went away happy. Michael would chat each customer up, even as they ate the food. His mouth rarely shut as he counted money, shared recipes, sold cookies and generally tried his best to make everyone welcome.
But the morning rush didn’t last too long and soon his little section of the market had quieted down. Other shopkeepers set-up for breakfast. Some of them even stopped by Michael’s stand looking for a good snack. He’d give away broken cookies to them if they sold him produce. Most of them were willing to buy his food, though. That was how he kept his business running so smoothly sometimes, working with everyone around him to stay pleasant and stocked.
The lunch rush was the one that had Michael running like a madman and begging fruit off some of the others. He ended up with peaches to replace the raspberries and some very soft strawberries to replace the blueberries for a second batch of cookies. He saved the ones left over from the morning for anyone who looked like a noble or even just a regular customer that listened to him talk.. But once he had the red cookies with peach smiles on them, business picked up.