François Vatel, majordomo to Le Grand Condé,
died infamously in 1686
(split on the notched tine of a fish fork)
giving cooks and television cockneys
the now-popular phrase
for complete lack.
Across the Kingdom of France
cutlers grew broken-hearted, their eyes like whetstones.
François Vatel did not die in 1686,
but he knew what that thirsty year would drink
to accompany suitably
molluscs, cephalopoda, white river fish
and, on excellent authority, no doubt,
Madame de Sévigné claimed that after coming
across a long, white stomach, he liked to insert
stale cakecrumbs under his foreskin
as he sipped warmed Armagnac.
When once asked why, he replied (with wrinkled eyes)
that he had found no successful way
to place them in his scrotum.
It is said that he invented whipped cream
while employed at the Château de Chantilly,
where sometimes the fish orders never arrived,
where sometimes they came late.
Scott Draper is a butcher. He studied Ancient Greek and Latin literature in London before training as a cook in Toronto, where he now counts syllables and ribs. His work has appeared in various magazines, including The Malahat Review, The Antigonish Review, Vallum, Arc Poetry and Prairie Fire.
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