~Layers After Layers~
Sugar, sugar, sugar. It was sweet—too sweet. It was an insane amount. What was worse was that the misleading color of the drink didn't prepare you for the intense amount of sugar kick you had received upon taking only your first sip.
"What d'ya think?" your Turkish friend asked with a wide smile on his face. Though he often wore a mask, it wasn't hard for you to tell that he was really anticipating an answer of praise. Heracles would have thought otherwise.
"It's…" you grimaced trying to force the best natural smile you could. "It's great. It's really sweet. I'm...surprised…"
"Ha ha ha!" Sadık laughed. "I knew it was good! Everything I make is good!"
You rolled your eyes and helped yourself to some pure black coffee that hadn't been touched by Sadık. He wasn't lying when he said that everything he cooked was good; the guy knew how to make the most delicious dolma and kebabs you'd ever tried, but when it came to sweets, he never held back in adding honey and sugar. Your Greek friend, Heracles had often warned you about trying his apple juice and his coffee for they were told to be sweeter than honey's and corn syrup's love child gone wrong, but you had been sure he was just trying to indirectly insult the Turk as he often did. This time, however, Heracles was right about the coffee.
"If you want, I could make some more," Sadık offered pointing to the cup of coffee you were drinking.
You choked on your mug. "No, no, no! That's fine!" you said quickly. "There's no need to trouble yourself, Sadık. Really, I'm fine. It's nice of you to offer, but I think I've had enough sugar for today."
Sadık's face fell. "But you haven't even tried my baklava yet."
This was a new word to you. "Baklava?" you repeated. "What's that? Is it some kind of dessert?"
"Yep!" your Turkish friend nodded.
You narrowed your eyes. "It's not as sweet as ashure, is it?" You shuddered remembering the time when you had tried Sadık's Turkish pudding. The sweetness level could have made your teeth fall off from instant cavities. Luckily, such a comparison was only used as a hyperbole.
Sadık shrugged. "Depends on how you make the syrup. I think I did a good job this time—as always," he added.
You rolled your eyes. Leave it to the Turk to brag about his cooking skills—not that they were anything far from superb. In fact, his cooking skills were something to be acknowledged just like Francis and Yao. The three combined created an unstoppable cooking team. It was no wonder they were members of the Gourmet Food Club.
"Okay, okay," you finally consented. "I'll try your baklava."
As soon as your said that, the wide smile reappared on your friend's face. He really liked it when things went his way. It was a quality Heracles always attacked and disagreed with.
After waiting for a short while, Sadık returned with a large pan full of curious little square pastries aligned and tucked next to one another. From your viewpoint, you could see that some of the outer layers had begun to curl from a period of baking revealing several layers of dough and glossy chopped bits of…something in the middle.
"So this is baklava," you said examining the pastry as Sadık took a piece out of the pan and placed it onto a plate. Now that the full layers were exposed, you were able to make out several layers of the pastry and what appeared to be finely chopped nuts. The whole pattern of dough and nuts went on for a few repeats before finally coming to a stop with a firm bottom of sticky, layered crust. If your sweet tooth wasn't already overloaded thanks to Sadık's coffee, you might have found the dessert to be more than tantalizing to your senses. Now, however, your taste buds were simply screaming for anything to counter the sugar that hadn't been washed away from the bitter coffee.
"How sweet is this stuff, Sadık?" you asked with a skeptical look as you brought a fork down onto the pastry and began to cut a corner off.
"It's sweet enough," Sadık smiled. "It's just like you, you, know?"
"Me? No, you're just teasing me," you laughed trying to hide a blush from creeping across your face.
"I'm serious, __________," your Turkish friend insisted. "In a way, you're just like baklava."
Amused, you crossed your arms over your chest. "How so?" you asked.
Sadık only smiled. Even though he tended to wear a mask, you were usually able to tell what he was thinking just by his expressions.
"Try the baklava and find out," he said gesturing towards the piece of Turkish pastry in your fork.
Truth be told, you weren't in the best of moods to be sampling anything sweet, but you were curious as to how you were similar to something such as a food. Your curiosity got the better of you, and you finally took your first bite of baklava taking the time to test out both the textures and the flavors.
At first it was just a sweetness overload as expected from the sugar-loving Turk, but the more you explored the textures of the flaky pastry, you noticed how the layers grew from flaky and toasted to heavy and sweet as they progressed with more exposure to the syrup Sadık had used. The chopped nuts added a perfect compliment to the otherwise dull composition completing the dessert as something that was simply created, yet enjoyable at the same time.
"Well?" Sadık was still awaiting your response. Knowing his ego, he was expecting you to praise his work—as always—and you did just that.
"It's delicious, Sadık," you smiled as you took another forkful and popped it into your mouth. "It's way better than your coffee, that's for sure."
Sadık made a face. "What's wrong with my coffee?"
"I've gotta be honest with you: it's too sweet," you confessed. "This, on the other hand, is much better. I don't really know why you think I'm like this dessert, though. Is it only because it's sweet? Because if it is, then you could easily just have said I was like the coffee."
Your friend laughed. "It's not just like that, __________. There's a little more development. It's like how the baklava's layered, right? The more you get deeper within the layers, the sweeter it gets. Don't you think so?"
You blushed and looked away. "I wouldn't know. I don't judge myself the same way others judge me—especially my friends."
"Aww, you're blushing~" Sadık teased. "See what I mean? If you take away the layers, you get sweeter and cuter."
"In that case, you're just like an onion," you threw back with a smirk.
Sadık frowned. "How am I like an onion?"
You pointed your cleaned fork at him. "Because the more you peel away the onion, the more it smells and the more you realize it's not so pleasant. In fact, sometimes you make the peeler cry."
"The heck?!" Sadık exclaimed. He was clearly unsatisfied with your analogy. You, on the other hand, had burst into a fit of laughter.
"I'm way better than an onion!" Sadık countered. "And you're wrong about the crying part! I've never made you cry!"
"True," you giggled.
Sadık lowered his gaze to your half-eaten baklava. "You know, I was hoping you'd compare me to the baklava, too. I didn't think you compare me to something like an onion."
"Since when do you care about being compared to food?" you asked amused. "I'd rather fish for a compliment."
"Well, I'm still waiting for one," Sadık replied.
You furrowed your eyebrows. "Didn't I already give you one?"
"Not about my cooking, about me in general," Sadık added.
You laughed. "You want one? Alright, then, you're sweet, Sadık—not as sweet as your coffee—but your still pretty sweet. I was joking about the whole onion thing, too. In a way, you're just like baklava, as well."
"I knew it!" Sadık beamed. "But as for the coffee, do you want to see if I can improve it?"
"No, no, no," you quickly responded grabbing ahold of Sadık's sleeve before he got up to leave. "I don't need any more sugar today. I could get cavities."
"I take that as a challenge!" Sadık burst out and yanked his sleeve away to redeem his reputation of overly sweet coffee.
"Impossible…" you sighed and hopelessly shook your head. There were still layers of him that were predictable, but that didn't mean they came out as weird—and occasionally nutty.