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    AC Benus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.

Carême in Brighton — a mystery novel - 7. Chapter 7: Monday, 23rd December, or Paix pour notre temps

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PART III

Christmas 1816

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Chapter 7: Monday, 23rd December, or Paix pour notre temps

 

 

“December’s a democrat;

O’er coronet and peasant head

An equal doling of bleakness

She insists on all men be spread.”

 

Doctor Kitchiner’s merry twinkle defied Carême to disagree, and his be-gloved hands clapped to let the chef know the physician regarded the atmosphere as festive.

The Frenchman’s only response was to pull his coat a little tighter. This would have to do as acknowledgement of his friend’s clever phrasing, for overhead, the weather was drear with cloudiness – and yet otherwise free from rain and wind. Notwithstanding the outside conditions, everything under the roof of the Market House appeared jolly and fair; it and its surrounding buildings served as the hub of Christmas preparations in Brighton.

As people bustled about them, and while the pair strolled down the central aisle, Kitchiner continued with his original thought.

“Bleak outside; merry and bright within. This seems so much the summary of Christmas spirit to me.”

“I agree with you, Doctor.”

“As it’s only two days before the Holiday, I’m delighted you could take your mid-morning break with me.”

The pungent scent of fresh-cut, resinous wood attracted both men’s attention. A smiling vendor, who was selling evergreen boughs and garlands, held up her wreaths for inspection; a tall stack of them stood by the side of her aproned skirt.

“François is at the Pavilion, working with Herr Bauda to see today’s dinner preparations are moving along smoothly. In addition, we finished our pièce montée earlier this morning, so its completion is a weight lifted off of my mind.”

“Then I’m glad you don’t think my suggestion of coming to the local public emporium too ‘pedestrian.’ Or, do you?”

“Ah, mais non! Not at all,” insisted the chef. “It is always refreshing to get away for a bit, and markets are my favourite place to visit in other towns, away from Paris, that is.” Carême smiled.

“And when in Paris?”

“Ah! When in Paris, there is only Les Halles. But then again, one could not wish for more. It is the finest shopping arcade in the world of wholesale.”

They approached another country person – this time an apple-cheeked young man – come to town to sell holiday greenery. But this time he stood amongst an assortment of young trees. The tallest was no more than five-foot, while most of the conifers ranged from two to three feet in height.

“And what,” asked Carême, “do people do with these?”

“Why . . . don’t you hang trees in France?”

“Not in Paris, Monsieur. And, hang?”

“Yes! From the ceiling, in a corner of the front room, or wherever the family spend the most time – the tree is decorated and hoisted up on a hook to hang freely.”

“C’est extraordinaire!”

“Some even devise small candles to sit on the branches and be lit on Christmas Day. But sadly, our English Yule tree customs are becoming less and less popular. Soon there may be no more Christmas Trees in England. It’s waning out of fashion.”

Almost by the alchemy of happenstance, the next stall they passed was of a bonneted white-haired lady selling candles of every size and length. For indeed, more people splurged on the luxury of nocturnal light for the Twelve Days of Christmas than for the remainder of the long trail of winter days after them.

Set up next to the wax lady was a barrow full of cottage-crafted toys – simple wooden drums, dolls and noisemakers. Each was cheerfully painted and guaranteed to bring smiles to recipient children’s faces Christmas morn.

“Charmants,” said Carême brightly.

“It is festive this year, isn’t it, Chef? Talk of Charlotte’s pregnancy is National News, and it’s the first Christmas since the Wars started that people face a new year without utter trepidation for the future.”

Carême replied with ‘peace in our times’ in French, a little sardonically.

“It’s a prayer we all have.” The Doctor was serious. “It feels like, if we can just make it through this winter without treachery, everything will be all right.”

“If?”

“I know. This will be a lean winter, possibly brutal. What with the endless precipitation, crops have failed, and other resources are low. However, because of the hard times, the Regent is being extra generous this Yuletide to the destitute.”

“Mon dieu, I know! In addition to preparing large dinners for the Prince and his visiting family on the 25th, our kitchens have been ordered to roast five hundred pounds extra beef to be handed out. But . . . it is a worthy cause.”

“Yes, and not only Brighton, but the same amounts are to be given from Carlton House, Buckingham House, Holyrood Palace, and Windsor Castle too. All the Royal fires will be burning to feed the poor.” The Doctor chuckled. “Soon, la salle de rosbif will be trading at Pennies the pound.”

Disregarding the Doctor’s laugh at this point, Carême stopped to run his hand through a seller’s bin. The cook let the ripened grains of rye pass between his fingers, thinking, to be honest, they were not the best examples he’d ever seen. Their deficiencies he chalked up to the miserable weather, and thus – being inferior – they were consequently overpriced.

Perhaps thoughts of money led Carême to ask, “Seeing, Doctor Kitchiner, that you are a renaissance man of many interests and blessed with abundant time to pursue them, may I enquire how you came to possess your fortune.”

“Coal,” Kitchiner replied bluntly. “Tonnes of it.”

“Oh, yes?”

The Doctor removed his glasses to be more circumspect with the chef. “My father established a fuel speculation business – one geared to holding back reserves of the sooty stuff until the London Exchange paid enough for it. His middleman-operation is still running, but I have no day-to-day duty with the firm.”

Only receiving the fat bank deposits that allows for your life of dilettante leisure, the chef thought—

“But it can be a dangerous occupation,” the Doctor added darkly.

“How so?”

The spectacles went back on to shade Kitchiner eyes, which regarded Carême with a blue-cast sincerity. “Naturally, being an adherent of the Church in Rome is a criminal offence in Great Britain, but that only adds to the blackmailers and rumour-mill operators, by those both in and out of official power. Sometimes the Governing Few decide it’s best to sic a bigoted mob on those they want to take down a peg. When I was a child, in 1780 to be precise, there was a Catholic massacre in London the authorities allowed to continue for weeks. The first night turned out to be the most frightening string of dark hours in my life, for there was a torch-bearing horde of ruffians outside our house to hang my mother and father in the street. Hundreds of others, unlike my parents, were killed in exactly this way.”

“Mon, dieu. I never heard of—”

“Gordon’s so-called Riot, as it is known, is not taught in our schools, has not been written about – except in Foreign papers – and is an unofficial ‘never happened’ in polite society.”

“How could such things occur? And so recently.”

“My dear Carême, England has had its own Terrors for centuries, only nowadays, they’re incited by Whitehall’s agents like Lord Gordon for the mayhem that suits them best. In my family’s case, the Government wanted a cut in the coal dealings, got it, and we were allowed to keep our own heads in the exchange.”

In addition to the horrors of the religious riots, another minor-key chord had the chef’s mind turning to darker thoughts. Though the massacre was in the past, Kitchiner continued to profit off of human misery, as surely the energy speculation business is designed to do. It was blood-coal, wrung from the infected lungs of Northern miners, making the Doctor richer than ever in this year with no natural warmth. People in the Capital were actually having to choose between food or freezing to death with no fuel. It all coalesced in Carême’s third eye as a fleck of airborne soot landing on the Pavilion’s pristine, still-wet stucco rooves – a literal acidic black spot.

Kitchiner patted the chef’s shoulder. “Shall we renew our amble? I did not intent to

“Yes. Let’s see what else the Christmas Market has to offer.”

After walking on moodily for several minutes, eventually a higher, more holiday energy lightened their step.

As the two continued on their way, they encountered a fantastic fragrance all of a sudden. One fruit vendor was craftily studding Seville oranges with clove pods. The dimpled skin received these in all-over decorative patterns like stripes and dragoons. Next to her, a boy pinned pre-cut ribbons to their tops, forming hangers for the citrus, and several completed ones hung across a rod for ready purchase. They smelled wonderfully like Christmas to Carême, and the stoic chef even let slip a smile of warmth for the ribbon lad.

A teen girl in the next stall was making decorative – and edible – festoons from dried apple slices and plump rosehips. The red skin of the fruit complemented the red-orange rind of the seed pod perfectly. They would bring cheer hanging from any home-fire mantelpiece.

These were near baskets of walnuts in the shell, and imported barrels of Spanish raisins and Turkish sultanas – the sweet golden raisins loved by British pudding makers.

“Like the roast beef, Dukes are selling three-a-Shilling in Brighton for the Christmas Season.”

“Pardon?”

“I mean, it’s a strikingly family affair at the Pavilion. In fact, my informants tell me the house is so chock-a-block with Royals, the unfinished attic is laid out like military barracks to accommodate all their servants.”

The pair of browsers next came to a confectioner displaying pretty little parchment baskets. Two thirds of these were filled with sugarplums, and the rest with either candied violet or rose petals. They all glittered with the finest toppings of sugar granules.

“The attic?” Carême was unaware of the domestic situation at home.

“Yes, There are even two levels of cots in the onion dome to accommodate all the visiting  lady’s maids and gentleman’s val-its.”

They were passing into the section of the market reserved for potent potables. Particularly, the delectable smell of cordials, like farm-pressed examples of summer-cherry and apricot, brought the scent of warmer months with them as they only now came to full mellow strength at December’s end.

Carême puzzled for a moment, and then corrected Kitchiner’s pronunciation. “You mean valet, no?”

“Well, yes.” The good Doctor grinned caustically. “But I mean VAL-itt as well. We English delight in being wrong collectively, after we’ve decided a particular eccentricity suits us better than a mere accuracy.”

“I do not – pardon – believe I follow.”

“This pleasure in being incorrect relates to Foreign matters primarily. Lord knows how butchered Church-of-England Latin is compared to the original. Centuries-old Je-su became new-age Jesus just so we could stand out on purpose.”

“Purpose?!”

“Yes. We mangle with intent, mon Carême. We do it to reinforce how English we are at the core.”

While Carême took a moment to consider it, the pair passed farmers selling fermented cider and perry, and others with true ale, which was made without any hops and only 100% barley. It wafted forth a sweet, unmistakably malty aroma.

These dealers were next to those offering bottles of ‘cheap and cheerful’ red wine from Spain, and more syrupy Rhenish ones from Germany.

Carême countered the Doctor on the lack of logical consistency. “But dear Kitchiner, if you say val-it, then why do you call the front hallway a foy-ay and not a foi-er?”

The Doctor chuckled like he was good-naturedly warning his friend to be careful. “My dear Chef, foi-er is American doggerel, and we’d never intentionally permit ourselves to sound like them!”

Both men laughed and slowly continued on their way. From some undisclosed location, the scent of baking gingerbread suddenly greeted the Frenchman’s nose. But now, almost by contrast, they entered the fishmongers’ quarters in the market. Fresh-caught colours of every hue represented the fish, but Carême was surprised to peer into one barrow and find the very-alive eyes of a large sea turtle blinking back.

“Has the Regent’s mother arrived yet?” asked the Doctor.

“We are told to expect the Queen for supper tonight.”

A distracted thought lit up Kitchiner’s face. “Do you know how many children Queen Charlotte has had?”

“No, I don’t believe I do.”

“Fifteen! And of her surviving boys, only George has produced a successor, and then quite reluctantly, as you know. The Duke of Kent: no wife; no heirs. Same with York, Cambridge and Sussex. What an unproductive crew they are. You’ll see for yourself. William, the second eldest, is married but he and Adelaide have no children of their own, although the Duchess lets William surround himself with his natural children.”

“Natural?”

“The misbegotten. How do you say it in French . . . les bâtards?”

“Oh, oui – les enfants naturele. Now I understand, and this policy is very lenient of the Duchess.”

“I believe she’s an intelligent woman and has come to accept she’s the one in the marriage incapable of issue, and so allows William the company of his children. That is mere speculation on my part, however.”

“Naturellement.”

“In any event, you’ll soon see the whole gaggle of Royal relatives sitting around the Regent’s table for Christmas dinner.”

“All except the King . . . . ”

“All except the man who is never permitted to leave Windsor Castle, for any reason, no. He’ll have his own Christmas, and may not know that day is any different from all the rest he lives through.”

The two men were nearing the end of the Market House where a wide opening let in more light from the outside. But before they could leave, Doctor Kitchiner’s eye was drawn to a large display of piscine comestibles.

He strode up to a stall, honing in on a collection of cod sounds the cut comprising the head, collar and swim bladder of the delectable fish. He poked around until he found the fattest, then his index finger hooked it by the gills and hoisted it up into view.

“What do you reckon, cher Chef? This seems to be a nice one.”

Carême inspected it visually, and assessed it was fresh-caught by the ruby hue of its gills and the clarity of its eyes. “Oui. C’est bon.”

“How much, my good man?” Kitchiner hoisted it higher for the monger to see.

“Three Shillings, guv’nor.”

Kitchiner appeared dismayed, repeating, “Three Shillings?! No; no; no. I will give you ten Pence.”

“For that! I’d stake my life on you not finding that cod head’s better in Brighton! Sure, not in all of Kent neither I’ll wager. Two Shillings, six Pence.”

“Two Shillings, six Pence? No. I’ll give you a Shilling, six Pence.”

“A hard-drove bargain for you, sir. But a Shilling, six Pence it is.” The fish dealer held out a sheet of newspaper – actually, the front page of a local gazette, as it was large enough – and Kitchiner dropped his catch of the day onto it. In another moment, the monger had the cod sound neatly bundled in its newsprint wrapper, money was exchanged, and Kitchiner and Carême began to move on.

The Doctor rang out merrily to his marketing companion, “I’ll have Mrs. Lister fry that up for our supper! Philip is back in town.”

“Master Hardwick, your young architect?”

Kitchiner was flattered Carême remembered. “The very same!” Then he continued in a more sober strain. “That reminds me; I extend an invitation for you to join us on Boxing Day. It will be the usual small, informal affair, with the usual assortment of characters.”

“When is this Boxing Day?”

“The day after Christmas; the 26th.”

“Ah, oui. Then I will be delighted to attend.”

They exited the market, and Carême saw an amazing sight across a little open plaza. Behind more holiday vendors in the Square, a poulterer had its little three-story building entirely covered with fresh fowl. Turkeys, geese, capons, pullets and chickens hung by their unplucked necks – their fat white bellies and breasts de-feathered and on full display. They hung from street level up to the eaves, and then around the corner, all the way up to the third-story gable.

Kitchiner sensed Carême’s surprise. “It’s quite a display, isn’t it?”

The chef nodded.

“But it’s nothing unusual. Every poultry shop in England hangs up their holiday birds like this.”

“On the outside?!”

“Yes. And why not? The December air serves as a natural frigidarium, and by Christmas Day, every one of these birds will have been sold and carted home for cooking.”

They began to walk through the plaza’s collection of vendors, towards the way out nearest the Pavilion.

The Doctor glanced up at the dreary sky and pulled his lapels a little closer. “There’s talk of ‘Troubles’ from around Europe. Uprisings in Russia, for example. We will see how the Czar handles the situation.”

“And Ireland? What of London’s Empire there?”

Kitchiner stopped walking, adjusting his glasses for a less better view of the chef. “When the oxymoronic notion of a ‘United Kingdom’ was imposed a hundred years ago, it meant the English centre of government would never let Scotland, Wales or Ireland be free – ever again. So the English army will always do what’s necessary in Eire, and it’s up to us Loyal Subjects to never ask what ‘necessary’ involves.”

Carême had no words other than brutal, and that was one he dare not voice.

The two continued strolling, drawing close to the end of the little public market square. Just at the end of the plaza, the men saw a final pair of country swains selling bundles of holly, ivy and mistletoe. The lads stood by a pile of enormous oak logs.

Kitchiner asked, “Do you know what that wood is for? It’s a special tradition.”

Carême shrugged, quite uncharacteristically for him.

“The Yule Log is another dying tradition in England. Once, on large estates, the trunk of a mighty oak tree would be selected, felled to dry for months beforehand, then dragged into the Great Hall and set on a fire lit Christmas morning. It was then meant to burn continuously for twelve days. So you see, it had to be an enormous piece of wood. Now, in the cities, we make do with a piece of timber that can burn all of Christmas Day.”

“The Yule Log – une bûche de Nöel – I will remember that.”

As the men turned to admire the market square they’d just freed themselves from, they spied the unmistakable gait of Leopold. On his arm, rosy and full of half-concealed smiles, Charlotte Augusta of Wales strode with wide-eyed curiosity for how the other 99.999% lived. Hatless, this time she had her hair gathered into a tight crown atop her head, and this in turn was ridiculously encircled by a choker of oversized daisies; those of the silk variety. For this alone, she stood out like a sore thumb.    

And so, as the Royals made their way through the open-air bazaar, an older fishwife recognized Charlotte with a clasp of her hand to her heart. “Bless ye, Princess – may God keep Thee,” she said, drawing the attention of others nearby.

Soon a well-meaning crowd cordoned in around them, with Her Highness clearly perturbed their incognito had been thus dashed.

However, Leopold became magnificent. He kept the pair moving forward at a relaxed pace, despite those in front turning to face the couple.

The murmurs of the crowd grew to a consistent chant, unifyingly crying out: “God Save England’s only hope!”

“Perhaps we should lend assistance—”

Kitchiner stayed the chef’s arm as Carême raised it to point to the couple. “Steady on, old soul. I have my men trailing them for protection whenever they leave the Pavilion. Leopold and Charlotte are in no danger.”

And then Carême, despite knowing how despised her father was, saw young girls run up to the Princess. Each held out a posy, and Charlotte took them with a kind word for the children. She seemed genuinely touched.

After this, Leopold re-extended the crook of his arm for his wife to take, and they began easing themselves out of the market. The pair took the street closest to them – by the side of the be-fowled poulterer’s shop – heading out to Castle Square. Naturally, the growing crowd trailed after them.

Kitchiner and Carême followed suit, using the passageway they were on to enter the Square as well.

They maintained distance, but kept their eye on the Royal Couple casually making their way back towards the Pavilion’s South Gate.

The Doctor bent confidential tones in Carême’s ear. “Charlotte is having a difficult pregnancy. The Regent wants her removed from excitement, but she’s only twenty and an excitable girl. Her high spirits and optimistic view on the world are part of why she is so beloved by the people. The Wars are over! They don’t want staid anymore.”

In a few minutes more, the Doctor and chef parted ways at the Pavilion gate, with Kitchiner heading off to the Club, and Carême gaining admittance to the house via the servants’ front door.

As Carême finished hanging up his winter-damp coat in the vestibule to dry out, movement in the hallway caught his attention. For just at that moment, François backed out of the Cold Kitchen in a slightly stooped posture. His hands were gripping the edge of the base supporting Carême’s freshly completed pièce montée – the grandest, most detailed, central confection for the Banqueting Room.

Inch by inch, the whole of the sugar work sculpture emerged from behind the doorframe. A chinois extravaganza, the long ‘building plot’ of its board contained there tall pagodas, bamboo bridges – spanning rock-candy gorges – and spun-sugar waterfalls. Architecturally speaking, all was red and black, with details like coiling dragons and bells hanging from the tip of every roof-point, which were themselves tricked out in edible gold leaf. The full piece finally made it entirely into the hallway, revealing a steady-handed footman manning the other end of the board.

And this pièce de résistance was merely one of three made especially for the Pavilion’s 1816 Christmas celebrations. For two more – designed for the Banqueting Room’s flanking sideboards – were nearly as elaborate, but ‘only’ featured a single pagoda atop a waterfall-spouting rocky outcrop. Never again would Carême allow himself to be impugned for making pieces too highbrow for his princely English employer to appreciate.

François and the recruited footman continued on down the corridor – the French maître d’hôtel walking backwards.

Carême followed, giving the men plenty of leeway, but as the pièce montée cleared the halfway point of the Decking Room, Carême ducked through the other, closer door to the Banqueting Room.

What he saw shocked him, and events unfolded much too quickly to do anything but react. For crouched down within the room, hidden behind the portal François was just about to come through, was Gris Thorndyke, the disgruntled Chief Footman. His tightly coiled body told the chef he was moments away from leaping up and tripping François, no doubt causing Carême’s right-hand man to dash the Pavilion’s principal holiday treat to the floor.

The chef raised his hand, preparing to yell out, when John Lightfoot –who had been arranging place-settings at that end of the table – leapt over and tackled Thorndyke from the side. The two men tumbled harmlessly to the carpet at the precise moment François entered the Banqueting Room.

Carême sprang into action, directing the maitre-d’ to the central sideboard before his hothead partner could get distracted as to why two grown men were wrestling on the floor by the door he’d just used.

By the time he and the footman slid the pièce montée into its safe-harbour position, François had correctly deciphered Gris’ sinister intentions. He stalked up to his enemy, demanding, “And what plan did you have in mind, hein! To destroy Master Carême’s masterwork, hein! To disgrace me—”

“Ah, keep your Froggie trap shut,” the Chief Footman shouted.

François shouted back a stream of vernacular French, cursing the twenty-eight-year-old man as if he were a pickpocketing youth caught in a Paris back-alley.

Thorndyke didn’t need an interpreter to feel the insults hurtling his way, and his face grew redder and redder with rage. His fists clenched at the ends of his piston-rigged arms.

Just at that moment, more footmen arrived from the Decking Room. They were followed by the Kitchen Comptroller and Thomas Daniels.

The moneyman flew into action, pushing the others aside to stand before his fellow Englishman, back turned to Distré.

Into the silence that followed, Thorndyke raised a wickedly self-controlled leer. He gently pushed the Comptroller aside. Into the face of the man he hated, he spat, “I was tying my shoe. Prove otherwise.”

François’ Gallic pride tore through his body like a flash of lightning. “How dare—”

Now; now”—the Comptroller tempted fate by putting his hand flat on Distré’s chest—“the man has given you a perfectly reasonable explanation. It’s time we—”

“Quel baratin!”

Again, no one needed help translating François’s charge of Bullshit!, for at this point the look of homicidal fury returned to Gris Thorndyke’s face.

This, naturally, goaded François to further action, but Carême took over, murmuring a plaintive “Villon,” and causing the maitre-d’ to glance around.

His men, his servers – the footmen – seemed to be on François’ side . . . but were they really?

Thomas Daniels, the undercook with hand-drying towel still in his clutches, looked to be sympathetic to the Frenchman’s cause, but in the end, François realized it was as it had always been – Carême and he alone, against the world.

François straightened up, backing away from the Comptroller’s hand. Then he said, “Apology accepted.”

Still, all in all, the glint in Thorndyke’s glare remained as determined for a nasty comeuppance as ever.

 

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Copyright © 2022 AC Benus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
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On 5/18/2022 at 9:18 AM, Theo Wahls said:

What a lovely stroll. I never had the chance to see the original Les Halles. It had been changed to outside of Paris at Rungis before I visited Paris.

Thanks for the chapter. The surprise sabotage from Thorndyke was very nicely parried. Sugar work and sculpture are very impressive art forms.

Thanks for a fine chapter.😘

Thank you, @Theo Wahls, Carême would agree with you about sugar work being an art form. It still forms the backbone to most professional cooking competitions even today. I think the master would come up with some truly stunning modern examples. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the other three chapters in the Christmas 1816 part :)  

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23 hours ago, 84Mags said:

The market felt alive with the sights and sounds of the vendors and their offerings. One could almost smell the holiday cheer. 
And then Gris Thorndyke ruined that sense of well-being with his heinous actions. Sadly, following Thorndyke’s words, Careme seemed to remember that the King isn’t the only one who will feel alone during Christmas. 

Thank you, @84Mags! I find it very interesting to compare / contrast the trajectory Christmas celebrating took in the U.K. versus France. The Revolution ended all celebrations of it in France, to a much more successful degree than the Roundheads (ie, the Puritans) were able to in the English Civil War. After Cromwell's son lost out to the Lords, the people picked up their greens, decorated their houses, and more or less moved on with a modern, Protestant understanding of Christmas. In France, the Catholic Church's repossession of their land and property under Louis XVIII seemed to have a chilling effect on the French people, who looked on Christmas as a mass-going obligation and not much more. The one 18th century Noel tradition that did find revival was sending Christmas cards, so we can be thankful to them for that.*

 

 

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* As I understand it, before the Revolution, the French elite were in the habit of visiting friends on Christmas morning. As more and more families went out to do the same, the simple custom of leaving one's calling card to show they had visited took on a more formal "Let me mail you something personal" significance. When many national postal systems took on the Austrian invention of the post card in the 1870s, the pre-printed Christmas card industry was born :)      

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23 hours ago, chris191070 said:

Those food stalls sound amazing. Can just imagine all those wonderful smells.

Thank you, @chris191070! There is such an immediate, dependent relationship between flavor and aroma, I don't know how to separate them. I'd never talk about the one without the other ;)

 

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23 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

You bring your cinematic eye to the market, letting us see the 1816 version of what Dickens would later recollect. There is much of interest and intelligence for Careme to absorb on that stroll.  He cannot help but notice how much affection there appears to be for Charlotte, if not for Leopold. It is back at the Pavilion where true danger lurks for Careme and Francois. They are indeed alone against that world, despite Kitchener’s bonhomie. 

Thank you, @Parker Owens! Charlotte and Leopold were apparently quite fond of the anonymity they could still find in Brighton during the Regency period -- that is before the railroad made the Royal fishing town an easy day trip from London for the masses. These later, overcrowded conditions made Victoria and Albert quite uncomfortable when they went for Brighton strolls, and contributed to Victoria's decision to sell her uncle's seaside home once and for all. Of course, what is hardly ever mentioned today are all of the assassination attempts against her life of privilege. The Royal Couple needed to go someplace like the Isle of Wight (where they built Osborne House) to feel their security details could properly protect them.   

 

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spacer.png

Illustration's original caption:

"The Princess Charlotte and Prince Leopold going to Esher Church, 1816.

Royal Collection Trust / Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II"

 

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21 hours ago, Lyssa said:

I love markets. Experiencing them in different countries is one of my favorite things to do. Thank you for taking us reader on the christmas market. Hadn`t one in in the last two years. So wonderful.

Thank you, @Lyssa! Me too about the markets; you can learn so much about a place by visiting their markets. James Beard insisted San Francisco once had an impressive one, but no one around here seems to care, to the point that I can't even find out where it was located, or when it was forced (by "Urban Redevelopment") to close down. Oh well, other places have been more careful in regards to their food culture than here, like Berlin :

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A fascinating insight to what Christmas was like and the markets that folks used. 

I wonder if John Lightfoot, so aptly named, will let folks know on the QT, what was really going down...

What he saw shocked him, and events unfolded much too quickly to do anything but react. For crouched down within the room, hidden behind the portal François was just about to come through, was Gris Thorndyke, the disgruntled Chief Footman. His tightly coiled body told the chef he was moments away from leaping up and tripping François, no doubt causing Carême’s right-hand man to dash the Pavilion’s principal holiday treat to the floor.

The chef raised his hand, preparing to yell out, when John Lightfoot –who had been arranging place-settings at that end of the table – leapt over and tackled Thorndyke from the side.

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AC Benus

Posted (edited)

3 hours ago, drsawzall said:

A fascinating insight to what Christmas was like and the markets that folks used. 

I wonder if John Lightfoot, so aptly named, will let folks know on the QT, what was really going down...

What he saw shocked him, and events unfolded much too quickly to do anything but react. For crouched down within the room, hidden behind the portal François was just about to come through, was Gris Thorndyke, the disgruntled Chief Footman. His tightly coiled body told the chef he was moments away from leaping up and tripping François, no doubt causing Carême’s right-hand man to dash the Pavilion’s principal holiday treat to the floor.

The chef raised his hand, preparing to yell out, when John Lightfoot –who had been arranging place-settings at that end of the table – leapt over and tackled Thorndyke from the side.

Thank you, @drsawzall! My John Lightfoot happens to be one of the few characters based on their real, named counterparts in the Pavilion household records. Sous-chef Bauda is another :) How could I make up names to better those two? 

As for Mr. Lightfoot, he seems a thoroughly decent guy, and surely, our French couple has nothing to worry about from . . . him . . . right? 

Thanks again for reading and commenting. It's much appreciated! 

 

Edited by AC Benus
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Thorndyke is a sneaky bastard! Someone needs to tie his shoelaces together next time, so this doesn't happen again. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the market! The banter between Careme and Kitchiner - two men with so much in common, but coming from such different cultures - is always fun to read, but especially so in this chapter!

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On 6/21/2022 at 5:12 AM, ObicanDecko said:

Thorndyke is a sneaky bastard! Someone needs to tie his shoelaces together next time, so this doesn't happen again. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit to the market! The banter between Careme and Kitchiner - two men with so much in common, but coming from such different cultures - is always fun to read, but especially so in this chapter!

Thank you, ObicanDecko! It's nice you mention how the doctor and chef are together. Although extremely different people, their overlay of interests -- and dedication to always learning and being better -- intermesh in a complementary manner. And what's better, there seems to be genuine like and trust between them. I sometimes think this must have been rare in a time-setting like this where, beyond the intimacy of one's partner, a person probably felt reticent to truly expose themselves to other people.     

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Dr. Kitchiner and Carême's point, counterpoint discussions of cuisine is always interesting.  The tour of the market produced a similar discussion of cultural differences.  I liked the tour of this market and your description reminded me of similar markets still going strong here in SE Asia.  The Princess' appearance did generate an interesting comment by Kitchiner when he assured Carême that his men were protecting the Princess.  Carême's reaction to the poulterer's shop made me think he thought of the display as befouled instead of be-fowled.

Thorndyke's treachery and Françios outrage have escalated their fight and is an omen of even more problems for the two French lovers.  Bland's response was true to his name.

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17 hours ago, raven1 said:

Dr. Kitchiner and Carême's point, counterpoint discussions of cuisine is always interesting.  The tour of the market produced a similar discussion of cultural differences.  I liked the tour of this market and your description reminded me of similar markets still going strong here in SE Asia.  The Princess' appearance did generate an interesting comment by Kitchiner when he assured Carême that his men were protecting the Princess.  Carême's reaction to the poulterer's shop made me think he thought of the display as befouled instead of be-fowled.

Thorndyke's treachery and Françios outrage have escalated their fight and is an omen of even more problems for the two French lovers.  Bland's response was true to his name.

Love these comments, raven1. First, Bland -- yes, he was no help at all. Thank goodness the chef was there to keep François from losing control. That would have harmed the Frenchmen's already delicate position in the Pavilion. 

Thank you for saying the doctor and chef's food discussions are interesting. I know it sounds like not a very lot to ask for, but when I was writing this project, I had little hope anyone would find it very engaging. Consequently, I wrote it for myself. So imagine my surprise when people started reading it, and better still, "getting it"!

I feel very grateful to my GA readers  

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19 minutes ago, AC Benus said:

Love these comments, raven1. First, Bland -- yes, he was no help at all. Thank goodness the chef was there to keep François from losing control. That would have harmed the Frenchmen's already delicate position in the Pavilion. 

Thank you for saying the doctor and chef's food discussions are interesting. I know it sounds like not a very lot to ask for, but when I was writing this project, I had little hope anyone would find it very engaging. Consequently, I wrote it for myself. So imagine my surprise when people started reading it, and better still, "getting it"!

I feel very grateful to my GA readers  

GA is a very unique place full of wonderful people, writers and readers.  I often exchange recipes with members on one of the blogs here that I visit daily.  I just found a blog for exchanging recipes here last week.  I have been busy with this story doing a lot of research, which I enjoy.  Some of it is because you include so many interesting facts and foods.  I have to look up things that interest me to learn more.  Food is of great interest to me, so I am thankful you decided to include these discussions.

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