"What are these?" Pinkie asked as she pointed at a tray on the buffet table.
"Cucumber sandwiches," Shining Armor answered. "It's pretty much slices of cucumber with cream cheese between them."
Pinkie Pie immediately grabbed ten and shoved them into her mouth. She let out a small noise of joy as she chewed, somehow having the sandwiches be unusually crunchy. She then turned to another item.
"Why are they covered in sliced nuts?"
"I have no idea."
At a slightly different part of the table, Applejack was looking at the spread as well. There were chocolate covered strawberries (one of which Princess Luna was currently eating), pitted cherries, grapes, pineapple wedges, and cantaloupe and honeydew balls. There was also a small bowl filled with what looked like black seeds or tiny berries, surrounded by a tray filled with tiny squares of toast.
"Do you have any idea what these are?" she asked as she picked up one of the bits of toast.
"I believe it is called 'caviar,'" Princess Luna answered. "It is not something I am familiar with. Allegedly, it has become quite popular among the aristocracy for some reason."
Curious, Applejack took the spoon -- which seemed to be made of some odd material -- and heaped a bit of it onto the toast square she had. She then stuck the caviar into her mouth and bit down.
The taste of it was surprising and disappointing. She had been expecting it to taste sweet, and maybe a little tart. Applejack had imagined that it would be something similar to preserves, kind of like blackberries or something. But that was not the case. The caviar was incredibly salty. It also had a very odd taste that she did not recognize.
"What exactly is it?" Applejack asked as she continued to chew.
Princess Luna studied that pegasus farmer a moment. Her horn then lit up as she turned to the punch bowl. Picking up two of the cups, she filled them up before levitating them over to where the pair of them stood. One she set down in front of Applejack while she took a hold of the other in her bat-like wing. She then took a step back and erected a small shield.
"Salt-preserved fish eggs."
For Applejack's part, she did not immediately spit out the caviar after hearing that, even if just barely. Her eyes went wide as her jaw clamped shut. Several seconds passed before she forced herself to swallow, letting out a hacking cough. Grabbing the cup of punch, she shot the entire thing down in a single gulp.
"Why would anypony want to eat salted fish eggs?"
"A question that has yet to be answered satisfactorily," Luna stated before taking a sip of her punch.
"Aww," Rainbow Burst groaned as she approached the others. "You mean I missed somepony eating the caviar for the first time?"
"You knew what they were?" Applejack asked, turning to face the rainbow-maned unicorn.
"Yeah," Rainbow replied with a grin. "You should have seen me when I found out after trying it. Actually... you should have seen Princess Celestia. She was pretty good about laughing it off though. Even made a joke of it."
"Rainbow," Pinkie Pie called out. "Rainbow. Come here, you got to see this." Before Rainbow could react, Pinkie Pie grabbed used her magic to grab the other mare and pull her to where Pinkie now stood.
"Look!" Pinkie squealed excitedly as she pointed at the table. In front of her was a tray filled with inch sized cubes of black cake with a rose shaped pink frosting flower on top.
"The mini cakes?" Rainbow asked as she picked one up.
"Not just any cake," Pinkie told her, picking one up as well. "These are chocolate chili pepper mini cakes with cream cheese hot sauce frosting." She then shoved it into her mouth, letting out a small "mmm" as she chewed.
"Really?" Rainbow stared at the one she had in front of her. "Wow. I didn't think Princess Celestia would actually do something with that. She must have actually liked them if she wants them to be served at The Gala."
"Rarity!" Pinkie Pie suddenly shouted. "Hi Rarity. Over here. Over here."
"I can see you, Pinkie," Rarity said as she walked toward the table. "There isn't exactly a large crowd here to get lost in, dear." She moved past her friends, stopping to stare at the table.
"Welcome back," Rainbow Burst said as she moved to stand beside Rarity. "So, how did meeting Prince Blueblood go?"
Rarity narrowed her eyes and glared at Rainbow. The anger behind it was so intense, Rainbow imagined that had Rarity been a unicorn, she would have set the whole room on fire.
"I would rather not talk about it," Rarity growled. Turning back to the table, she picked up one of the cake bites.
"Fine!" Rarity snapped. "You want to know how it went? He thought that I was a servant, and was trying to conspire with me on how to get out of our date without making me mad. That's how it went. Happy?" She then shoved the miniature cake into her mouth.
"Hot!" Rarity shrieked, fire shooting from her mouth. Running over to the punch bowl, she grabbed the whole thing and began to chug it down.
Rainbow Burst watched Rarity's reaction, then turned and looked back at the cakes. Maybe she should go to The Grand Galloping Gala this year after all. It would be a lot of fun to watch the guests' reactions when they eat the hot and spicy little cakes.
"So, when's the party going to start?" Pinkie Pie asked.
"This is the party," Rainbow Dash told her. "Well, sort of. This is kind of how The Grand Galloping Gala would be like. It's as close to it as I can get it on short notice.
"Don't worry though. I sent Spike out on a special mission. In an hour or so, he'll be back, and we can end the ball to have a real party."
"Don't be a silly filly, Rainbow," Pinkie said, giving Rainbow Burst a pat. "I'm sure we'll have lots of fun. Look, Twilight's already dancing."
The others all turned to look. Out on the dance floor was Twilight Comet. To call what she was doing "dancing" was to use the term very liberally. From the sidelines, it looked more like the random flailing of limbs. Her head low and eyes closed, tongue sticking out the corner of her mouth. She would lift a front and back leg up, wave it in the air, then set it back down before repeating the process with the opposite limbs.
"Wow," Rainbow Burst said as she watched the display. She had never seen anypony dance like that before. Admittedly, Rainbow never really had a strong interest in dancing herself, but Twilight's move seemed wrong. Like the whole thing was just... awkward.
"Shining Armor," Princess Luna asked, "is this popular in modern dancing methods?"
"No, majesty," Shining Armor answered. "That's... that's just how my little sister dances."