I am a cat, but I can eat most anything. Unlike Kurumaya no Kuro, I lack the will to wander alleyways as far as the fishmonger's. And unlike Miké from across the lane, whose mistress teaches the two-string koto, I'm in no position to entertain indulgence. As it is then, my dislikes are surprisingly few. I eat the children's left-over bread, and I lap at rice-cake filling. Pickled vegetables are atrocious, but for the sake of experience I downed a couple of takuan slices. Oddly enough, I like most anything I try. To pick and choose is the ultimate self-indulgence, and as a teacher's cat is out of the question. The master talks of a French novelist named Balzac. This Balzac was a man of great extravagance -- not extravagance of the palette, of course, but extreme extravagance, as a writer, with respect to his own prose. One day, Balzac was trying out various names for a character in his novel, but with none to his liking. Just then, a friend called, so they set out together to walk. While the friend, of course, knew nothing of it, Balzac was hoping to settle on a name for his character. As they walked the streets, he surveyed every sign on every shopfront. The right name, however, eluded him. With friend in tow, he continued on and on. His friend, oblivious to his objective, followed along. In the end, they scouted Paris from morning to night. On their way back home, a sign on a tailor shop caught Balzac's eye. The name "Marcus" was written on the sign. Balzac clapped his hands together. "That's it, that's it! It's none other than Marcus, a splendid name. I'll put the initial "Z." in front, and then it's perfect. It has to be Z. Marcus, I love it! The names I invent, no matter how cleverly crafted, always fall flat as contrived. Finally a name that I like." Forgetting his friend, he delighted in his discovery. Thus it's told how he went to great pains, scouting Paris for a full day, to name a single character in his novel. Such extravagance is fine for those who can afford it, but I find myself, with my oyster-like master, in no such position. I'll take what I get, as long as it's edible. Such is my resolution, born of my circumstance. My inkling for zōni, then, sprang not from indulgence, but rather the thought to eat while the eating's good. The master's leftovers, it occurred to me, might still be there. ... I made my way around to the kitchen.