Saturday, October 30, 2021

Tale 8: Paris 1899 - Rewritten Beginning

  The chef was not quite French and not quite German. He'd been in her employ since childhood when she was just Mademoiselle Rosheim. His father Ludwig was chef to Monsieur Rosheim, his grandfather Ludovic cuisinier to Herr Rosheim. The Rosheims were in Alsace since the 12th century, and as far as the Wolfshunds knew, a Wolfshund cooked for a Rosheim when the Rosheims entertained Emperor Barbarossa. Every Wolfshund 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 that Madame Rosheim was Baroness Hachmei, Louis Wolfshund was in Paris, ordered to move with with new Baroness so her children would know how a decent Baekoffe and Shiffala taste. Once in Paris, Louis cured meat at the feet of the Hachmei's formidable executive chefs, two brothers and Italian kitchen tyrants named Ebreo, and whom together taught Louis by the spoon how to make Paris's best Beouf Bourguignion, Coq au vin and Cassoulet, along with some worthlessly fried ball of bicot merde called 'falafel.' And yet upon retirement the Ebreos recommended a different executive chef with Louis as the mere chef de cuisine. Fortunately, the young and facile Chef Rosenthal had a better offer: the kitchen of Baron de Rothschild, and therefore Louis was made executive chef to what he knew he'd soon raise to Paris's best kitchen in any house or restaurant. 

And still, when Le Cordon Bleu opened in 1895, the Hachmeis ordered him to enroll immediately, Louis, an executive chef of Paris for nineteen years whose food was served to Zola, Rodin, Clemenceau and Rothschild a dozen times each was taking instruction on how to crack eggs. The Rothschilds never made Chef Rosenthal enroll... The other servants explained to him that this was meant as a great honor. Imagine being the first scientist to graduate from l'Ecole Polytechnique! 

The truth of the matter was the Hachmeis were concerned that all their friends had younger chefs who'd be trained at Le Cordon Bleu, and they didn't want anyone to comment that the Hachmeis employ a chef with credentials any less than immaculate. Jewish or gentile, the Hachmeis knew they would find no better chef out of Le Cordon Bleu's graduates than Louis already was, so Baroness Hachmei hit upon the magnificent idea to send Louis to Le Cordon Bleu, where he could stun the students and faculty with his quality and become known to a wide gastronomic public as one of the finest chefs of the Third Republic. 

Louis always suspected 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 Lisette's protestations of disinterest the lies of a teasing flirter who took pleasure in drawing out Louis's seduction, only to be told one day in 1895 that he would spend six hours every day learning to cook like a first-year dishwasher when he knew everything better than his maitres, and have no free moment for Lisette to play with force for the next two years.  

For the first year, the young students at Le Cordon Bleu laughed at Louis like serpents in a vegetable garden, as he knew they would - a Baron's executive chef forced to take lessons in remedial cooking, and from teachers who had not half his experience or skill. Just his mere presence in a place like this ensured that no professor would appreciate his professionalism or gift. And as the students snickered at his presence, the maitres critiqued his dishes as though he were a first-year waiter when he hadn't burned a Sauce Bearnaise in thirty years and could make Consomme a thousand million times clearer than any of these amateur gourmands ever could. Surely, were they true chefs themselves, they would be employed in a grand house like the Maison Hachmei, to which he had to return every evening and prepare the night's meal he'd assembled that morning before class.

But in the second year, a student assembly arose: Cuisine Francaise pour la France, which  

(Louis becomes their star by sharing dirt on the Hachmei's)

When he returned, he did everything he could to show Lisette withering scorn, and Lisette Charlappe 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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