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The Mathom House  by Baggins Babe

It has frequently been noted that world dominance is a male aspiration. Females seem mostly content with their little piece of the world but some males would have it all. Nor do they seek to do so subtly by gaining influence in various lands, preferring great armies of their own kind, or orcs and other foul creatures, trolls, balrogs, giant spiders and Rings of Power. This imposing of their Will must be by force, no matter how much grief and misery they cause, because they desire power over others. The causes of this behaviour have been the subject of much specualtion over the milennia - perhaps they are envious of women because they can produce children. Possibly they are completely mad. Then again, perhaps those who try to rule the world are just bullies.

       Not that there have not been powerful women in Middle-earth: the Valar Queens; Melian the Maiar who came to Middle-earth, wedded an Elf and left a bloodline which survives still; great Elven ladies such as Galadriel and the Queen Arwen Undomiel; the shieldmaiden of Rohan who felled Angmar; those queens of Numenor and Gondor. Yet none of these sought to invade and conquer other lands and kingdoms, being content with their own.

       All that domination takes time - thousands of years sometimes. However, less than twelve years after the War of the Ring one person had achieved great influence in almost every part of Middle-earth and beyond the Sundering Sea, yet managed to do so without leaving home or employing orcs, goblin-men or twisted Istari. It really was a remarkable talent.


       In the Glittering Caves Gimli was hosting his father and the Dwarves of Erebor. They had walked many miles underground that day and now settled to eat. Gloin and his son sat quietly in Gimli's own quarters and contemplated beer, fresh bread and salted pork. Only one item was missing, thought Gimli as he rose and opened a store cupboard. He set a large jar on the table and Gloin read the label. Pickled Onions . Summer 1430 SR it said in Frodo Baggins' flowing script. Gimli offered the jar to his father then took one of the onions and bit into it. Dwarves liked their pickles to bite back and Rose's pickling spice blend was absolutely perfect. Of course the foolish Elf would probably turn his nose up at them, preferring that peach wine. His loss then, Gimli thought with a grunt. He also liked the peach wine, although he would never tell Legolas so. It would never do for the Elf to gain the upper hand.

       "You'll never taste better, father."

       "I wonder if she would send some to me?" Gloin pondered, helping himself to another.

       "Why not? I'll ask her."


       In fair Ithilien, Legolas lounged on a flet and gazed at the stars. He sipped from a goblet containing peach wine and wondered, yet again, how Rose managed to bottle Shire sunshine. No doubt Gimli was eating those sharp pickles! Legolas quite liked the sweeter silverskin onions himself, but he never said so to the Dwarf because he would never hear the last of it. He took another sip and the wine fizzed slightly on the tongue, leaving a warm lingering aftertaste of cream, cinnamon and vanilla. It was probably a criminal offence in some places just to sniff something like this! Legolas stretched dreamily and held the next mouthful for as long as possible, just to savour summer in the Shire.


       Lothiriel and Eomer sat in the semi-darkened hall of Meduseld, sharing a small table as they ate supper together. Lothiriel had a sweet tooth and was eating a piece of Rose Gamgee's rich fruit cake, savouring the spicy taste, the moist currants and raisins and the tang of brandy on her tongue. It was a melody of sensations which no cook in Rohan seemed able to quite reproduce, although the fare at Edoras had improved no end since the hobbits' last visit.

       Eomer was not as fond of sweetmeats as his wife but he was enjoying cold meat, crusty bread and some of the finest pickled red cabbage he had ever tasted.

       "I cannot imagine how she does it - in a Shire kitchen Rose makes all this delicious food and does so while looking after an increasing brood of children, being the Mayor's wife and caring for Frodo like a sister. How does she do it?"

       Eomer smiled and forked more cabbage on to his plate. "I have no idea, my love, but let us be thankful that she does. And thankful too that she sends some of that produce to Edoras."

       "If she sends one of those cook books to us, we can make this ourselves and have it every day."

       "Now that is certainly something to look forward to."


       The hubub of the Prancing Pony faded as Barliman closed the door of the private dining-room, leaving the Dunedain to contemplate a very full table - beef, roast potatoes, tureens of vegetables and some batter puddings which the Steward and his brother recognised, having eaten them during their stay at Bag End. Halboron rubbed his hands in anticipation.

       A moment later there was a tap on the door and Carrie Butterbur entered, carrying two large jars.

       "You gentlemen might want to try some of this."

       The label, in Frodo Baggins' elegant hand, said Red Onion Jam. Halboron whistled.

       "Now this is perfection. We had this when we visited the Shire last year. Rose makes it with red wine, redcurrant jelly, various spices and port I believe."

       Hallas, always eager to try new foods, helped himself and tasted it. Everyone watched his expression change to one of wonder and delight, then they all helped themselves and began to tuck in.

       Erithain smiled to see his sons eating so eagerly. "Just think, if we spend Yule in Hobbiton we'll be eating like this every day."

       Halboron chuckled. "Never mind, Erithain. It will only cost you a small fortune in new clothes!"

       "Yes, that's what I'm afraid of - although if all the food is as good as this then I shall consider it money well spent."


      Celeborn, Glorfindel and the Twins were entertaining King Thranduil and some of his people in Rivendell. They would later retire to the Hall of Fire to sing and recite poetry but now they sat down to eat. The roast lamb was accompanied by mint jelly, as made by Rose Gamgee, and soon everyone was exclaiming over the taste. Glorfindel looked at the Twins.

       "I can see I must pay a visit to the Shire. Is all the food this magnificent?"

       "All Shire cooking is superb but Rose is the best cook of them all. She can turn a few simple ingredients into a feast fit for kings and princes."

       Thranduil nodded. "No wonder my son spends so much time there. I should like to visit the Shire and I agree with Lord Glorfindel that it should be soon."

       Elladan laughed. "We shall all go and throw ourselves on the doorstep of Bag End and beg Rose to cook for us. She has promised us a copy of the Shire cook book soon."

       "I believe we need a demonstration of each and every dish first," said Glorfindel firmly, and the company agreed.


       Faramir found himself bundled into the Stewards hall in Emyn Arnen. Eowyn looked flustered and anxious, and she had streaks of flour on her face.

       "Have you been busy in the kitchens, my love?" he asked, with some trepidation. His wife's many talents did not normally extend to culinary creations and the usual sign that she had been into the kitchens was someone rushing for a bucket of water to douse the smouldering ruins.

       She blushed. "I have - and before you say it, no I did not burn down the bakehouse! I just decided it was time I mastered the art of cooking, so I asked Lirien if she would supervise me while I made something."

      "So what have you made?" Faramir enquired. There was certainly a delicious smell of baking filling the air.

      "I wanted to try something from that cookery book of yours. I made this!" She whisked a cloth away and unveiled a fine looking cake. "It's Rose's coffee and walnut cake, and I made it all by myself. Lirien did not have to do anything. She just watched me to see I didn't make any dreadful mistakes."

       Faramir cut a slice and was surprised and relieved to find it was cooked all the way through. It certainly looked as it should. He tasted it and chewed reverently for a few moments.

       "My dearest, this is superb! It really is!"


       "Yes, really." He cut a second slice and then cut another piece for her to try.

       "Oh my! It isn't bad, is it?"

       "Rose would be proud. It is truly delicious."

       "I must write and tell her I've finally managed to cook something properly."

       Eowyn looked so delighted that her husband drew her to him and kissed her, and for a whle even the cake was forgotten.


       Azarafti, Haradric ambassador to the Kingdom of Gondor, reclined on a couch in his house on the Fifth Level of Minas Anor and happily surveyed his supper. There was cold meat, the simple yet tasty potato dish which the Halflings called 'bubble-and-squeak' and some of the spicy tomato chutney he enjoyed. The Lady Rose had been generous enough to send him six jars for his own personal use, a gesture which overwhelmed him. In return he had sent her a book of recipes from Harad and Khand, translated into Westron, and a box of spices from the region.

       Hobbits were unusual and fascinating creatures, he mused. He was pleased to have finally met some although their small stature and simple, gentle nature had astonished him. They seemed too soft and harmless to have brought down the Eater of Souls but the King said no-one should ever underestimate hobbits. Certainly it did not do to underestimate their ability to eat and drink.

       He wondered what sort of person Mistress Rose must be. The King said she was kind, motherly, capable, witty, wise and full of good hobbit sense. He hoped that one day he would meet her and judge for himself.


       Breakfast in the Royal Apartments was always a slightly chaotic affair. Aragon liked to have breakfast with his family and the children were overjoyed to have their adar to themselves for a while.  Arwen was eating bread with Shire honey, which was even more tasty than that made in Rivendell. Little Melian loved strawberry jam and was eating enthusiastically, if rather messily, while Eldarion and Gilraen were sharing a jar of the wonderful lemon cheese, another dish invented by the hobbits. Aragorn selected some toast, lifted a jar and smiled as he unscrewed the lid.

       "Rose Gamgee's black cherry jam," he murmured happily. "The perfect start to the day."


       The gathering on the grass overlooking the sea finally leaned back, replete. The Lady Celebrian rested her head on her husband's shoulder and Elrond smiled down at her. The Lady Galadriel sipped her tea and smiled at the elderly hobbit and the white-clad wizard before her.

       "What a wonderful idea of yours, Bilbo, to have a picnic here. The food was delicious and those scones most unusual. I had never heard of lavender scones before but the flavour is delicate and beautiful."

       "Was it your mother's recipe, Bilbo?" Celebrian enquired.

       "No, my lady. The original recipe was Bell Gamgee's and she passed it on to Lily Cotton, but it was Rose who added the lavender flowers when she was only a little lass. She was always helping her mother in the kitchen and trying out new ideas."

       "I had no idea you could cook, Mithrandir," said Elrond, grinning at Galadriel.

       "A Wizard has many talents, and I spent a great deal of time with hobbits. It is impossible to spend much time with them and not absorb some of their ways." He glanced over to where a white horse stood cropping the sweet grass.

       "I think you must both come and teach our cooks some Shire recipes. We need a little more ...........variety," said Celebrian firmly.

       "It will be an honour, my lady," said Bilbo, bowing.


       Who would have thought of it? Lavender flowers in scones? Yavanna shook her head in wonderment as she watched the little scene.

       "Olorin always says the hobbits can often surprise one, even after many years of study," said a soft voice in her ear. The Valar Queen turned to see the Lord Manwe smiling.

       "They are certainly the most charming and entertaining of all my children," she said fondly.

       "Indeed they are, my dear. They save the world and then feed it. Remarkable! Although I think it is just as well you created them with so little ambition for power. The Lady Rose could wield more power than Sauron if she so wished. Her influence extends to almost every part of Western Middle-earth and here in the Blessed West."

       "Perhaps I should ask Olorin for that recipe?" Yavanna smiled disarmingly.

       "I think that is an excellent suggestion. It would be a crime not to."


       The most influential person in Middle-earth stood in her kitchen, hand-raising a hot water crust for her pork pies in readiness for the hay harvest feast. She hummed to herself as she worked, pausing now and then to listen to her husband's whistling from the kitchen garden, her children's laughter as they played on the lawn, and the soft cooing of tiny Goldilocks as her uncle Frodo sang to her in the study. Her realm was here with those she loved. She needed no more than she had already, and her life was full and blessed.

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