Gabrielle was forever having babies. She would disappear for a time and return with a baby; perhaps three or four times a year. She would then, with a great deal of pain and for quite a sturdy envelope of bank notes, hand the baby over to the adopting couple.
She had managed twenty to thirty babies over the five years since she started having them. Those adopting thought she was the real mother. Officially she worked for the Central American Children’s Foundation. This charitable body was responsible for getting babies with a “condition” – usually a heart condition – and taking the baby for a time to have heart treatment in a more sophisticated country.
“Of course,” said Gabrielle to the personable person next to her in the plane, “we don’t let the parents come. They don’t understand. The first thing they would do if they were in the hospital would be to pull the tubes out of their poor baby. That’s why I’m travelling alone on this plane with the baby but without the parents. When the baby is well we return it to its parents.”
Upon arrival in the more sophisticated country the baby would miraculously get better, and the adopting parents would gratefully hand Gabrielle a tidy sum. Thus far, Gabrielle had helped babies “get a better life” from seven different countries.
“It’s so rewarding being able to help people in this way,” said Gabrielle.
Unfortunately, Concetta’s love of exotic cooking had gone to her head. She had quite a name for it, and it was always wonderful to get invited to one of her festive meals.
She moved from country to country; not for real you understand, but in recipes. One day it might be a recipe from Bosnia-Herzegovina and the following week she would cook as if she lived in the jungles of the Amazon. Once, slap-bang in the middle of winter, her invited guests were treated to an array of recipes strictly from Iceland. Dried seals’ pizzles, for example. No one could guess where she got them from! What fun!
And then something wonderful happened! A new root vegetable appeared at the market. It was from South America. Concetta had never tried it before. Her research told her it was sweet and juicy. It could be eaten raw, in a salad or even a fruit salad. Or it could be cooked, like a potato. It came under a number of names. Some called it the Peruvian Ground Apple, but how plain is that? Concetta used the proper name of Yacón. Concetta invited her guests to partake of the exotic food. She would use it not only as a side dish for the main, but raw in a fruit salad along with pineapple and bits of peach.
The guests arrived. They were very interested in the side dish. It tasted alright; nothing to write home about. And then came the dessert. Thank goodness for French Vanilla Ice Cream! The fruit salad was horrible. No one said a word, but it was disgusting. It was extremely bitter. The guests chewed it with a smile.
But Concetta had muddled Yacón with Yucca. Yucca is an ornamental plant. By the morning, all her guests were dead from cyanide poisoning.