Wednesday, 11 June 2008

More than one way to skin a Rabbit.


We have been luxuriating in a few splendid days of early summer, the orchard is heavy with the promise of apples, still no bigger than hazelnuts but growing by the hour and the garden is a mass of blooms. All has been tranquil and calm, and Eldest and I have spent pleasant hours together reading in the garden in silence whilst the boys are at ecole and Chief Patissier engrossed in the world of biscuits. We did plan to entertain ourselves with an energetic game of tennis only to discover the rackets needed re stringing, youngest having unstrung them to make traps with Loic in the vegetable patch. Madame Grogonne has been busy diving for fish in the lake with her harpoon and the widow has been baking numerous gateaux and desserts to make use of the glut of eggs our generous hens have provided.

The only fly in the ointment has been Mlle Delcacourt who, if it were possible, has become daily more distracted since the unexplained disappearance of her incontinent pussy Fleur who mysteriously vanished sometime after the unfortunate incident involving the stolen lobster.

I remember the day well. It had been the first day of the warm weather and on doing my habitual tour of the chateau to check on the housekeeping I was overcome by the unmistakable smell of Cat Pee emanating from the copious folds of newly hung summer curtains in the Salle. On closer inspection I was most distressed to discover the cream damask curtains tinged with yellow fluid the source of which was too obvious. Alerting Madame Grognonne to the problem she and the widow spent the entire morning washing the curtains and laying them out to dry in the sun, pausing only to prepare luncheon .

I recall that lunch was a light affair, with one’s staff unexpectedly occupied one must make do with what one can but one endeavours to be stoical about such things. However her household tasks done Madame Grogonne prepared a miraculous feast for dinner of terrine of salmon, Rabbit cooked in cidre and garnished with prunes, new potatoes steamed , asparagus tips and served with a choice of several excellent desserts.

By dinner time Mlle Delacurt was in full cry searching everywhere for her pungent pussy and I remember well how uncharacteristically kind Madame Grognonne had been by especially preparing Mlle Delacourt her own special dish of something called ”Mumbled rabbit”, from an English recipe, which she served her on a platter all of its own. I must say it looked and smelt quite unlike any lapin I have ever know, and it seemed to have rather considerably more meat than one would expect on a bunny. I did venture that I might try it but Madame Grognonne was adamant I really should not, thus I took her advice and refrained. One knows the English palate is quite different to our own and despite her obvious distress Mlle Delacourt finished the entire dish on her own.

Sadly, no one appears to have seen neither hide nor hair of Fleur the felonious feline since that day. On a totally unrelated point I am happy to announce that Loic has managed to source a plentiful supply of cat gut and thus repair our tennis rackets at last, so that Eldest and I will be able to enjoy our game again. I do thank God that I have been blessed with such splendidly resourceful servants.
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The illustration is by Albrecht Dürer a German artist and engraver who painted it in 1502 and is one of a series of paintings in watercolour of meadow life inspired by an earlier trip to the Alps. People often refer to it as Durers Rabbit It is not of course a rabbit at all but a large hare, however for things are not always as they appear at first glance.

12 comments:

muddyboots said...

well l am so very glad the lapin went down nicely, and how fortunate to find such a ready supply of cat gut, it is so hard nowadays to source the proper stuff. I did take note of a plethora of stuffed pets in a stately home on a recent sojourn to the north, perhaps there is a opening for a little something or two?

Frances said...

In this tennis season, the score seems to be advantage Mme G.

xo

Inthemud said...

The rabbit sounds delicious, we've plenty here but never thought of eating them, dog does that.

Apples in abundance on our trees too.

ChrisH said...

Mme G is a woman of many talents, itsn't she? Such a tranquil and harmonious household. How lovely that Loic has restored your rackets - I wonder if Mlle Delcurt might, perhaps, enjoy a few sets too.

Leatherdykeuk said...

What a splendid solution all round. I expect the cat went to London. They are, I believe, reknowned for travelling.

lampworkbeader said...

Are we to understnd by this latest escapade, that the dear lady won't be stroking her pussy for some time?

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Me thinks there is a certain pussy who will trouble you with pee no more.

Mei Del said...

truly resourceful

LittleBrownDog said...

I adore that Durer drawing of a rabbit / hare. Mmm, Mumbled rabbit sounds delicious. Wonder what happened to the skin?

Cait O'Connor said...

I love hares and have always liked Durer's painting.

Nice to catch up on the Loufoque household whose Summer days sound very enjoyable in spite of the smell of cat pee.

Fennie said...

Oh why do you not say when these episodes occur? I try to keep up to date. Ah le pauvre chat. but still no more cats pee one hopes. how was the deed done. did mde g run after him with a cleaver like butcher beynon after the corgis in under milk wood?

apologies for lacj of capitals. I have only one hand for a reson inexplicable when typing with one finger. mais ou est jacques? il est parti avec le chat/lievre. Or have you eaten him too?

Pondside said...

UPL you are so fortunate to have such loyal, resourceful and ingenious staff! Does Mmme G hire out for dinner parties on her evenings off?