Potage aux Pantoufles

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Potage aux Pantoufles1

A macaroni French cook from the 1770s

Poet's Note: Addressed to a certain good composer, on his sending me some of his music, married to verse of whose immortality I was not fully assured. So I wrote then.

And now that the interesting musician, accomplished gentleman, and dear and merry old friend is gone, I include the lines in my last volume, believing that he would like to find them there, glad to remember that they amused him, and grieved that we can laugh over them together, in this world, no more.

O the mighty king of France,

Did the royal cook advance;

And he louted low and said, "To his liege sinner,

Please his majesty declare

Whether I shall dress a hare,

Dodo, unicorn, or phoenix, for his dinner? ''

With a glance that thrilled with awe,

Quoth that haughty monarch, "Pshaw!

What care I? Dress what you will, – dress my
old slippers." –

And the cook quaked, and withdrew

Straight his roasting-jacks unto.

His spits, and eke his dredging-box and dippers;

And his majesty of France

Hence betook him to the dance.

To the "stately pavon and the swift coranto,"

Then, forspent with whirl and hop,

Bade the breathless minstrels stop,

While the regal board, with hungry strides, he
ran to:

"Haste, what ho, my varlets all!

For the tarrying banquet call,"

So he called; and so they called, and served
him rarely.

"Now, what is this goodly stuff?

Can I ever get enough?

Help me, pantler, – yet again, – and not too

"Ye, my courtiers, have a care,

How ye taste the same, beware;

For it might not suit a stomach less than

Being fitted for a king.

Hie, ye knaves, and forthwith bring

To the presence here, my cook so true and

" Cook," he thickly as he ate

Cried, "what is this dainty cate,

That's so savoury, so luscious, and so tender?

In what market was it bought?"

"Please your grace, 't was only wrought

Of the slippers that you deignèd to surrender,"

Spake the chef, with modest pride.

Not in vain his best he tried,

For his sovereign long his praises went repeating;

But it was his own good will,

Sauces, spices, taste and skill,

Which made all that in that dish was worth
the eating.


Thus, O generous Mr –

With your [metaphoric] lute,

Don't you sometimes make a song that is delicious

Of what others have thrown off, –

Pray, don't think I mean to scoff, –

Of a substance that may be a wee suspicious?
The Literary Corner Archive

Dmitri Gheorgheni

01.10.18 Front Page

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1So you don't all bother Superfrenchie: it means 'Slipper Soup'.

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