This follows on from Food and Other Issues.
“So, give,” demanded Mirren, practically bouncing in her seat, “What was going on, here in the Imperial cloister?”
“An administrative sweat factory to run the Empire,” Yannic was frowning, “As efficiently and cheaply as possible. The residential sections are nothing more than nice dormitories – suites of good sized bedrooms and studies off a sitting room but all the bathroom and eating facilities are communal. Trado used to go on about how truckloads of food were coming in here every day to feed the privileged few, but the population of the place was almost the size of a small town, they would have needed truckloads even with almost everyone on a sedentary ration. And its not as if they were bringing in high end foods: yams; beans; sweet potato; pumpkin; carrots; turnips; grummet fish; salt meat; oh, and chipped grain.”
“Basic staples,” commented Mirren, “Really basic staples. What about flour, green leafies and fruit?”
“Ground their own, and grew most of their own in those courtyard gardens,” he paused for a moment, “When we blew the wall and took over, I noticed there were no flowers.”
“My mother and yours always have flowers,” Mirren nodded, “You’d think the Imperial Household would be at least as organised.”
“I found this from the Comptroller’s Office to a prosecutor who wanted to copy the table decorations she’d seen somewhere she’d been for work at her daughter’s wedding interesting.” He picked up a piece of paper and began to read, “You are reminded that this office’s position is that the cultivation of flowers purely for decorative purposes is a wanton extravagance of resources when food security has not yet been assured. Your request for a decorative display of flowers on the table at the celebratory dinner is rejected. Further more,” he read on, “We have reviewed your proposed menu for the dinner and cannot agree to it in its current form despite your use of personal discretionary rations and funds. It is recommended that you either remove the ingredient of anchovy from the main course or have fresh fruit instead of a made dessert.”
“What were they having that removing anchovy from the recipe would make it less fancy?” asked Mirren.
“Grummet fish and yam pie topped with cheese.” He winced, “I would have thought that anchovies would have made it edible. And those personal funds? They got paid in room and board, up to six sets of clothes a year, use of the common rooms and equipment, and a personal allowance of five sistre a day. No wonder we can’t keep our administrative budgets at their level.”
“Five sistre?” Merrin was incredulous, “That’s a bag of sugar or a cup of hot, popped grain. How did they get away with that?”
“It looks to me that they had them convinced they had everything they needed,” he smiled tiredly, “And that it was their duty to consume as little as possible to free up resources for the construction effort.”