Dear Rennie,

I’ve never been particularly adept with the ladies, but, I’ve heard that food can work to disguise one’s own shortcomings in the woo department, if done properly. I’ve figured out how to break into the private garden of that flat up the road, I’ve got a laundry hamper on stand-by as a picnic basket, and it’s supposed to be a fine evening tomorrow night. What do I bring for food? It has to be able to be packed swiftly, should we have to leave, uh, abruptly. I need your guidance! And possibly a blanket, if you have one I could borrow–my mate claims that this Star Wars bedsheet is ‘tacky’.

Sincerely yours,

Notting Hill Old Boy

Monsieur N.H.O.B.,

Ah, nocturnal l’amour! What a charming rakish scheme you have devised to win your fair maiden’s affections. Were I a younger man, I would join you in such an endeavor in a trice–but my years demand that I keep watch with you in spirit only, and work to provide you with an appropriate menu instead. Ah, to be young! But, hope may spring eternal within, and from my fevered imagination to yours, good sir, a menu to seduce the senses:

Asperges a la Pompadour

Crisp, yet pliant….much like a young woman. Sure to excite the senses

Chilled slices of Chicken Galantine

Earthy, male, musky, carnal–the dark heart of poultry, mon frère, a taste that is both familiar, and yet, slightly…dangerous.

Princess Poached Eggs

Is she not the queen of your heart? Does she not also have a secretly rich center, waiting for release? She does, oh monsieur, she does.


Delicately pale orbs…you may author your own allusions. The garden shall be rife with them, at this point. I suggest action.

Robert assures me that we have a blanket appropriate for your needs–you shall find me in the usual place, in order to retrieve it. I only task you with regaling me with an account of your evening later, in lieu of payment. I will bring brandy. A finger’s worth.

Ever yours,

G. de la R.

Biscotins (from ’18th C. Cuisine’)

“Take a half-pound of sugar; cook it to the feather stage. Once cooked, remove it from the fire, & weigh three-quarters [pound] of flour which you will put inside your sugar syrup, reserve some flour that you will keep to handle it on the table. Having put your flour in your syrup, you will stir it well with a spoon: when your paste is well done [all your syrup has been absorbed into the flour], take it from the stove, & put it onto a clean table [marble pastry board], where you will have strewn a little flour before; it is necessary to stir it up; at the same time you will pour out your paste, & make small balls about one inch: you must work quickly, because when the paste is cold, one cannot work with it anymore. When the balls are formed, cook in the oven without paper, on copper sheets. When they are cooked, take out of the oven, & put them in a paper cone at the drying oven.”

Nouvelle Instruction pour les Confitures, les Liqueurs, et les Fruits, François Massialot. Chez Claude Prudhomme, Paris, 1716, pp. 194-196.