24 Festive Tasks: Door 23 – Hogswatch, Book
One unmissable yearly Christmas tradition: the annual Hogfather reread. Or relisten (thank Heaven for Nigel Planer’s narration).
Much has already been shared this year (and the whole book is one huge piece of quotable writing, of course), but anyway, this is one of my favorite bits not mentioned by anybody else yet:
“In the glittering, clattering, chattering atmosphere a head waiter was having a difficult time. There were a lot of people in, and the staff should have been fully stretched, putting bicarbonate of soda in the white wine to make very expensive bubbles and cutting the vegetables very small to make them cost more.
Instead they were standing in a dejected group in the kitchen.
Where did it all go?’ screamed the manager. Someone’s been through the cellar, too!’
‘William said he felt a cold wind,’ said the waiter. He’d been backed up against a hot plate, and now knew why it was called a hot plate in a way he hadn’t fully comprehended before.
‘I’ll give him a cold wind! Haven’t we got anything?’
‘There’s odds and ends … ‘
‘You don’t mean odds and ends, you mean des curieux et des bouts‘, corrected the manager.
‘Yeah, right, yeah. And, er, and, er …’
‘There’s nothing else?’
‘Er … old boots. Muddy old boots.’
‘Old — ?’
‘Boots. Lots of ’em,’ said the waiter. He felt he was beginning to singe.
‘How come we’ve got … vintage footwear?’
‘Dunno. They just turned up, sir. The oven’s full of old boots. So’s the pantry.’
‘There’s a hundred poeple booked in! All the shops’ll be shut! Where’s Chef?’
‘William’s trying to get him to come out of the privy, sir. He’s locked himself in and is having one of his Moments.’
‘Something’s cooking. What’s that I can smell?’
‘Old boots …’ muttered the manager. ‘Old boots … old boots … Leather, are they? Not clogs or rubber or anything?’
‘Looks like … just boots. And lots of mud, sir.’
The manager took off his jacket. ‘All right. Got any cream , have we? Onions? Garlic? Butter? Some old beef bones? A bit of pastry?’
‘ Er, yes …’
The manager rubbed his hands together. ‘Right,’ he said, taking an apron off a hook. ‘You there, get some water boiling! Lots of water! And find a really large hammer! And you, chop some onions! The rest of you, start sorting out the boots. I want the tongues out and the soles off. We’ll do them … let’s see … Mousse de la Boue dans un Panier de la Pâte de Chaussures …’
‘Where’re we going to get that from, sir?’
‘Mud mousse in a basket of shoe pastry. Get the idea? It’s not our fault if even Quirmians don’t understand restaurant Quirmian. It’s not like lying, after all.’
‘Well, it’s a bit like –‘ the waiter began. He’d been cursed with honesty at an early stage.
‘Then there’s Brodequin rôti Façon Ombres …’
The manager sighed at the head waiter’s panicky expression. ‘Soldier’s boot done in the Shades fashion,’ he translated.
‘Er … Shades fashion?’
‘In mud. But if we cook the tongues separately we can put on Languette braisée, too.’
‘There’s some ladies’ shoes, sir,’ said an under-chef.
‘Right. Add to the menu … Let’s see now … Sole d’une Bonne Femme … and … yes … Servis dans un Coulis de Terre en l’Eau. That’s mud, to you.’
‘What about the laces, sir?’ said another under-chef.
‘Good thinking. Dig out the reicpe for Spaggheti Carbonara.’“