Friday, October 29, 2021

Tale 8: Paris, 1899 - Beginning

 The chef was not quite French and not quite German. He'd been in her employ since childhood when she was just Mademoiselle Marceau. His father Ludwig was chef to Monsieur Marceau, his grandfather Ludovic chef to Herr Marceau. The Marceaus had been in Alsace since the 12th century, and as far as the Gerhardts knew, they'd cooked for Marceaus the whole time. Every Gerhardt knew how to make that egg-noodle monstrosity they called 'kugel' and that wretched apples nuts and wine dip they forced themselves to eat every Passover. 

But now Madame Marceau was Baroness Bloch, she was in Paris, and Louis Gerhardt was basically ordered to move with her so her children would know what decent Baekoffe and Shiffala taste like. And once in Paris, Louis went to work with the Bloch's chef de cuisine, a kitchen tyrant named Halevi who taught him by the spoon how to make Paris's best Beouf Bourguignion, Coq au vin and Cassoulet, along with some egg noodle monstrosity called 'kugel' and still he recommended a different chef to take his place when he retired. Fortunately Monsieur Rosenthal was offered the top spatula in the kitchen of Baron de Rothschild, and therefore Louis went about about running what he knew was Paris's best kitchen in house or restaurant. 

And still, when Le Cordon Bleu opened in 1895, the Blochs made him enroll, a chef with forty years experience, taking classes on how to use eggs. Nobody made Chef Rosenthal enroll... The other servants explained to him that it was a great honor. Imagine being the first scientist to graduate from l'Ecole Polytechnique! The truth of the matter was the Blochs were concerned that all their friends had younger chefs who would be trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and they didn't want anyone to feel their chef was in any way inferior. Jewish or gentile, the Blochs knew they would find no better chef out of Le Cordon Bleu's graduates than Louis already was, so Baroness Bloch hit upon the idea to send Louis to Le Cordon Bleu. 

Louis had always suspected that the idea was not the Baroness's but rather the lady's maid, Lisette. Louis had always flirted in ways designed to make Lisette mal at ease, he thought the way she looked embarrassed deeply charming, and of course, thought her protestations of disinterest in Louis the lies of a teasing flirter who took pleasure in drawing out the seduction, only to be told one day in 1895 that he would spend six hours in school every day and have no free moment to play with force for the next two years.  

When he returned, he did everything he could to show Lisette withering scorn, and Lisette matched his contempt ridicule for derision.  

no longer an Alsatian but a Frenchman who had even more reasons to hate Jews than every other decent Frenchman. 

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