Pierre was in love. Completely, and hopelessly.
Pierre was head chef at the Le Meridian Restaurant in Paris. His was a humble beginning. A farm boy from Normandy, he had been apprenticed to cooks from the age of seven, scraping burned pots in the scullery and washing dishes ( with a clout, if not clean enough ). He was elevated to slicing potatoes, dicing carrots, and washing salad greens.
He worked his way across France, from restaurant to restaurant, learning more and more. He rose from Salad Chef to Pastry Chef, to Assistant then Head Chef. He became sought after. When he started at Le Meridian, it was a 3, maybe, a 3 and a half star restaurant. Under Pierre’s hand, it quickly became a 5 star. The food was marvelous, but his greatest fame was his French Onion Soup. It was the talk of the town. Newspaper articles were written about it.
His soup was so good that he reversed the order of service. Usually, the soup came first, but now he served it after desert. It was a success. Royalty started to patronize the restaurant. Le Meridian raised their prices and increased his salary. Pierre, not yet 25, could afford good clothes and an elegant apartment. He had a chef’s kitchen installed and experimented nightly.
One evening, the head waiter entered the kitchen and said: “The Countess De Morurney, sends her compliments.” This meant nothing to Pierre. Important people were always sending their compliments.
“And who is this?” said Pierre.
“Take a look at table 10,” said the waiter, and cracked open the door. Pierre dropped a plate of escargot. He was smitten.
The Countess had been coming for a month and always alone. She always wore a thin, sheath dress, held up with tiny straps. There was a delicate, diamond choker, around her lovely neck. Pierre was beside himself.
You would think that this distraction would cause his cooking to decline. It had the opposite effect. It soared even higher. There was even talk of 5 and a half stars, an unheard of idea in the world of Cuisine. The meats became more tender. The soufflé’s lighter, the deserts more delightful, the flambés, flamed higher. But the Onion Soup remained the same. It was the ultimate and could not be improved upon, and was still served last.
The story of the Countess, was a sad one. An orphan at the age of six. Her widowed father, the Count, was on the loosing end of a duel over the affections of his mistress. The rich estate was taken over by his brother. She was sent to a convent and raised by nuns.
When she was 21, her uncle was killed in the same manner, but over a different mistress. She left the convent and became the sole inheritor.
Life in a convent had not prepared her for the life of a Countess, so she tread lightly. She had a sense of elegance and decorum and suitors aplenty, but none touched her heart, much less her body. Her wealth bought her the best of everything, and brought her nightly to Le Meridian.
When she left her carriage and entered the door, a hush fell over the room. All eyes followed her to her table, including Pierre’s. In the convent, she wore a simple cotton sheath, with nothing underneath. No finery in the face of God. She still wore a simple sheath, with nothing underneath. But now, it was the finest silk. The color varied with her mood. White, when she was feeling virginal. Black, when feeling mysterious. Scarlet, when daring. Pale Lavender, when shy. Yellow, when feeling open and expansive. Green, when close to nature. He could read her moods.
Pierre now cooked especially for her. The other patrons did not suffer. Their food was always of the highest quality, but hers was magnificent. Other tables noticed the difference and gossiped.
He demanded that only he should be allowed serve her. A common waiter could remove the empty plates, but only he could bring the new ones. She no longer had to order. He would choose her dishes, and bring them to her in his starched, white uniform.
She would smile shyly. She knew she was being seduced.
She wore black for three nights. Then scarlet for a whole week. Pierre understood and made his move. At the end of an exquisite dinner and before the soup, he brought out desert, a white bowl and a ladle. He set the bowl down. On the bottom, in thin chocolate lines, was the message; “Let me cook for you.”
She looked down, then up at him with shining eyes. “Yes”, she whispered.
“Tomorrow,” he said, as he poured the ladle of strawberries and cream and hid the message.
The next day the Assistant Chef took over Le Meridian. Pierre busied himself in his private kitchen. At eight o’clock, when her carriage pulled up at Le Meridian, the driver was instructed to continue on to his address, three blocks away. When he opened the door, he was dressed in a ruffled shirt, new waist coat, fashionable trousers and patent leather shoes. She was dressed in a white silk sheath.
The table was set in Sterling, with gleaming crystal, and bone china plates. Scented candles cast a warm glow. She was a goddess. Raven hair. The bluest of eyes. Ruby lips and a body that would make the old masters blush. The dinner was simple yet elegant. Each mouthful held the promise of what was to come. Desert was a single ball of dark chocolate filled with sugared cream. Then the French Onion Soup to top it off. At the last mouthful, she stood up and did something to her dress. It slid to the floor. Pierre carried her to his bed and stretched her out. He left and came back with the still warm tureen of soup. He put a spoonful in her mouth. Her eyes rolled. He dribbled some down her throat and over her breasts. Her body writhed with delight. He placed onion rings around her hardened nipples. She gasped. He poured a stream of soup over her stomach and hips, then, dipped his fingers into the bowl and came out with golden onions, and forced them into her body. She could stand it no longer. She cried out: “Take me, take me! you, you, Chef!”
It was a night of gourmet delights.
Two months later, Pierre opened the only 6 star restaurant in Europe. It was called: “The Countess”.
(Written January 23, 2014)