Saturday, 4 August 2012

The Devil is in the Detail

The proverb "the Devil is in the Detail" is my favourite.  In high social circles, one can be harshly judged on small, precise, trifling details. 
So much so, I've taken a keen interest in the arrangements for today's VIP Summer Fête on the lawns of my country estate, Raffles, casting my eye even on the smallest decisions, such as which brand of silverware to lay out ("Christofle, of course, darling"), which wines to serve ("Châteauneuf-du-Pape is for French peasants.  Bring on the 2002 Romanee-Conti [priced at a mere £12,250 per bottle], buy the whole wine cellar if you have to, you passive, bitchy, old fem").  

Much to my horror, I'd discovered early on that Cook had been abusing the liquour cabinet, literally drinking my cellar dry of gin.  How did I know?  She started wearing the following garment.

 And her reading material was a clear sign of her unbalanced mind:

She's not been the same since her trip to the Far East.  She spent three weeks on a secluded island in Thailand before flying to Vietnam and then mainland China.  It seems to have turned her mind.  For example, she'd been planning to serve up a decidedly experimental hors d'oeuvre:

It's called Century Egg.   A Chinese duck or quail egg, preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime and rice straw for several months, until the yolk becomes a dark green, gelatinous form with an odour of sulphur and ammonia.

Revolting.  Something no doubt the French would adore.

She should have added pig trotters, blood soup, warm scorpion mousse, roasted bat and deep-fried locust, whilst she was at it with her deviant ideas.   

Had she been allowed to serve Century Egg or any of the other abominations, my guests would have prayed for merciful death and my reputation for being the hostess with the mostest would have been in tatters.

She also spent a small fortune ordering in a gigantic ostrich egg so big it needed a tractor to transport it.  Quite what she planned to do with it is beyond me, clearly she was planning to feed the whole of the Home Counties with it.  It took three men to move it.  It's been rolled out of the front gate and is now sitting on the village green.

Even with known and celebrated British menus, she's been known to corrupt the most fool-proof recipes and serve up a dish bearing no resemblance whatsoever to its origin.  Once she flew off the handle and served what she called "a little Surprise pudding".  It was a plum pudding so tall and wide it required eight people to carry it in.  She'd gone for the alternative interpretation and added onions, garlic, tuna and artichokes, and then she'd laced it with every conceivable liquor available, not just stopping at rum, but also tequila, sambuca and absinthe.  

As a last considerate thought, she placed a couple of lit fireworks on the table beside it, just as she ignited the pudding. 

Damage caused to my banquet hall after Cook's diabolical Surprise Christmas Pudding, laced with enough alcohol to sink the Titanic and served with several lit fireworks. The whole thing exploded like a bomb going off, showering the Hall with millions of bits of molten suet and raisin, causing irrevocable structural damage - now you know why I moved to Buckinghamshire shortly afterwards. 

Sadly, Cook is now beginning psychiatric treatment at the nearest Secure Unit, and I've almost - thanks to Prozac and Xanax - moved on from her catastrophic culinary perversions.  The newly appointed Cook will be serving up classically English Beef Wellington: a square of filet steak coated with pâté de foie gras and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked, and served with truffles, mushrooms and Madeira wine.   And the only fireworks will be later in the evening, and set off outside.
I've had to hire new staff, since many of my original employees are still off sick with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder following the Exploding Pudding Incident.  

The new staff were handpicked by moi, with a particular theme in mind.  As it's a banquet, you might have expected to see very formally-dressed staff, which is common all over the country.  

However, I don't follow tradition.

The height of decadence: many high-class eateries and hotels in Britain dress their waiting staff in stiff, very formal costume, as pictured above. This 5-star eatery, in the heart of London's trendy Mayfair, is the hangout of many A-list celebs. Note the 'luxury hand wash' in the top right of this photo.

I'm not interested in the faded glamour of yesteryear waiters and maître d'hôtel; there won't be any tuxedos, bow ties or stiff upper lips.   My butlers and waiters will be wearing something simple, understated and unique, something that will be talked about for years to come:

That's right.  They'll just be wearing the above garment and nothing else.  Some of them don't speak a word of English, but they're not here to engage in conversation.  Here are 'the Boys':


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