[Sca-cooks] mmmm... movie......

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius.magister at verizon.net
Fri Aug 4 10:06:19 PDT 2006

On Aug 4, 2006, at 11:35 AM, Kathleen A Roberts wrote:

> On Fri, 4 Aug 2006 08:16:13 -0700
>   "Anne-Marie Rousseau" <dailleurs at liripipe.com> wrote:
>> I make watching that movie required for any new
>> autocrate or feast head
>> I'm mentoring :).
> that is a VERY good idea!  gotta remember that.
> cailte

The movie is excellent, and adds quite a lot of depth to the  
relatively bare historical accounts, but to me, the be-all and end- 
all is the simple account of the death of Vatel in a contemporary  
letter by Madame de Sevigny:

'It is Sunday, the 26th of April; this letter will not go till  
Wednesday. It is not really a letter, but an account, which Moreuil  
has just given me for your benefit, of what happened at Chantilly  
concerning Vatel. I wrote you on Friday that he had stabbed himself;  
here is the story in detail.

The promenade, the collation in a spot carpeted with jonquils, - all  
was going to perfection. Supper came; the roast failed at one or two  
tables on account of a number of unexpected guests. This upset Vatel.  
He said several times, "My honor is lost; this is a humiliation that  
I cannot endure." To Gourville he said, "My head is swimming; I have  
not slept for twelve nights; help me to give my orders." Gourville  
consoled him as best he could, but the roast which had failed, not at  
the king's, but at the twenty-fifth table, haunted his mind.  
Gourville told Monsieur le Prince about it, and Monsieur le Prince  
went up to Vatel in his own room and said to him, "Vatel, all goes  
well; there never was anything so beautiful as the king's supper." He  
answered, "Monseigneur, your goodness overwhelms me. I know that the  
roast failed at two tables." "Nothing of the sort," said Monsieur le  
Prince. "Do not disturb yourself, all is well."

Midnight comes. The fireworks do not succeed on account of a cloud  
that overspreads them (they cost sixteen thousand francs). At four  
o'clock in the morning Vatel is wandering about all over the place.  
Everything is asleep. He meets a small purveyor with two loads of  
fish and asks him, "Is this all?" "Yes, sir." The man did not know  
that Vatel had sent to all the seaport towns in France. Vatel waits  
some time, but the other purveyors do not arrive; he gets excited; he  
thinks that there will he no more fish. He finds Gourville and says  
to him, "Sir, I shall not be able to survive this disgrace."  
Gourville only laughs at him. Then Vatel goes up to his own room,  
puts his sword against the door, and runs it through his heart, but  
only at the third thrust, for he gave himself two wounds which were  
not mortal. He falls dead.

Meanwhile the fish is coming in from every side, and people are  
seeking for Vatel to distribute it. They go to his room, they knock,  
they burst open the door, they find him lying bathed in his blood.  
They send for Monsieur le Prince, who is in utter despair. Monsieur  
le Duc bursts into tears; it was upon Vatel that his whole journey to  
Burgundy depended. Monsieur le Prince informed the king, very sadly;  
they agreed that it all came from Vatel's having his own code of  
honor, and they praised his courage highly even while they blamed  
him. The king said that for five years he had delayed his coming  
because he knew the extreme trouble his visit would cause. He said to  
Monsieur le Prince that he ought not to have but two tables and not  
burden himself with the responsibility for everybody, and that he  
would not permit Monsieur le Prince to do so again; but it was too  
late for poor Vatel.
Gourville, however, tried to repair the loss of Vatel, and did repair  
it. The dinner was excellent; so was the luncheon. They supped, they  
walked, they played, they hunted. The scent of jonquils was  
everywhere; it was all enchanting.'

I'm not completely convinced the movie comes across as being so  
cynically comforting as this...

However, this does explain to those who know me why, when they  
complain about their difficulties in running a feast, I tend to ask  
if everything was at least scented with jonquils.


More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list