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Monday, August 15, 2011

Vatel's Haddock Up To Here


A Poisson Play (or, Too Little, Too Late)
A Play In One Scene.

April, 1671, Château de Chantilly, France. 4am

 FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Who goes there?

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Why it is I, a humble fisherman.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Oh thank goodness — I’ve been waiting for you. I presume you have my order?

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Sure. I’ve got a couple bream, a small turbot and a nice Dover Sole. And in this basket I have four perch, an eel and a bit of skate wing. The rest of the skate didn’t make it, but the wing is OK if you sauté it with a bit of butter. Oh, and also a haddock.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Is this all?

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
I’ve been out on a boat all night mate. You’re lucky to get this.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
It’s not enough! I have to feed 2000 people!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
I thought it was a pretty good catch myself.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
How am I going to manage with this! I placed an order for 2000 fishes!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Not with me you didn’t. Look: I walked all the way here in the dark, you ungrateful sod. Do you want the fish or not?

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Mon Dieu!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
It can’t be that bad. You look tired. Have you had enough sleep? You look a bit ragged around the edges if you don’t mind me saying.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
I’ve been awake for 12 straight days. You have no idea.

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Bloody Hell, mate. Go to bed.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Can’t. Got to cook dinner for 2000 tomorrow.

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
That’s a bit steep. My Missus wouldn’t have that many over in one sitting.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
The King has waited five years for this banquet. Yesterday the roast failed at two tables — don’t ask — and today: no fish! It’s a disaster!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Ask yourself: What Would Jesus Do? He was pretty handy at dilemmas like this.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
I shall never survive the disgrace. My career is in ruins!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Look: are you going to take this fish or not? It's not every day I have haddock.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
What’s the point? I’m a dead man!

HUMBLE FISHMONGER:
Whatev. Too much drama. I’m off home. Thanks for nothing. I bid you adieu, Sir.

FRANÇOIS VATEL:
Au revior. Try not to crush the jonquils on your way out. Where’s my sword? Where’s my damn sword?

*  *  *  *  

Three hundred years later we can see what Gourville may have served Louis XIV that Friday once Vatel's corpse had been found by the messenger sent to inform him all the fish he ordered had in fact been delivered after all. 

Grand Diplôme Cooking Course, Volume 2, 1971

Also from these books: Sweetbreads NiquetteYour Goose Is CookedIn Your Face!Frankfurter Salad

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