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Seven Days

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Nov. 29th, 2011 | 03:14 pm

On Monday she roasted a peacock, carried in by three footmen who turned their backs to each other to fit through the doorway and nearly knocked over the television. She had wrapped the breast in gilt foil and cunningly mounted the tailfeathers so that the bird presented in the meal as he had in life, courting her husband. Her husband sat, pale and bedraggled, listlessly toying with a long drumstick. The peacock raised his head, candlelight reflecting on his crest, and looked her in the eye with pity.
 
Tuesday’s fondue pot sat on an iron brazier. The slender forks were set with colored dots in the handles, to tell whose bite of filet or tenderloin or quail egg was whose. She garnished the plates with gherkins and raw garlic, hoping to clear her head. When she exchanged the pot of broth for Ecuadorean chocolate spiced with ancho chilies, his plate was still full. Low-growing broccoli flourished; raw meat glistened in a pile up to his chin.
 
Wednesday she pit-baked a marlin in parchment, digging the hole so vigorously that the neighbors sat on the garden wall and ran a pool on whether she’d reach China or Australia. When she surfaced in the Pitcairn Islands she declared herself the winner and claimed six francs, fourteen pesos and an old shilling. That night her husband peeled back the paper and remembered a seafood allergy.
 
She used every plate in the kitchen and still had to borrow soy sauce dishes from the neighbors for kaiseki on Thursday. The seventy-one small courses reflected the crisp Indian summer, opening luxuriously with mushiawabi, steamed abalone, accompanied by chilled sweet plum wine cordial. A single matsutake mushroom embraced August’s last conger eel, stepping together into autumn. She served the sashimi course on a lotus leaf, the sea bass and fatty tuna coupling gently in the dew. He used his chopsticks and a strip of nori to build a makeshift slingshot, and fired balls of rice out the window at the neighbor’s cat.
 
Friday she raised a goose in the guest room, stuffing it hourly with grain mash soaked in brandy, her hair tied in a kerchief and her hands in rubber gloves. She sewed the liver tightly in a cheesecloth wrap and soaked it in champagne, then seared the foie gras lightly in goose fat, serving it with a simple salade aux fines herbes and a sweet Sauternes. Her husband observed that the new down pillow had too much neck support for a stomach sleeper.
 
Saturday she couldn’t face the kitchen, and hired a caterer who pitched a pink silk tent in the neighbors’ garden. By the time the mistake had been rectified, her husband had gone to bed. His snores shook the rafters, tiny wafts of leftover goose down falling like snow. By morning he had to be dug from under an eight-foot drift, and the second footman gave notice.
 
She leaned across the breakfast table and plucked a piece of goosedown from his hair on Sunday morning. He twitched irritably. She opened the cupboard and began cutting the challah from last week’s loaf, spreading it thickly with apricot jam and banana slices, dipping the sandwiches in the milk-and-egg with a dash of vanilla before lowering them carefully into a baking dish. She stenciled the border of his plate in cinnamon and nutmeg and set it on the range to warm, then emptied the refrigerator, stacking Pyrex bowls of miso, foil packages of fish, plasticware brimming with chocolate and cheese, filling twenty-two leftover grocery bags from the stash under the kitchen sink he’d always told her to throw out. Absorbed in the Style section, he only grunted when she said, “French toast,” and turned away. The third chambermaid lent her youngest son’s yellow tin wagon, saying, “Ay, Mami, as long you only downhill, you be fine.”
 
Across the narrow river, she saw the hammered tin-can roofs and mud walls topped with shards of glass, a plaza mayor in miniature, the jardín a patch of dirt with straggling shoots, the fountain a rusted pump. A little boy leaned all his weight on the handle, lifting his bare feet from the ground. She stepped into the shallows and called softly, reaching across the water, holding a Glad Disposable filled with gruyère. He hesitated, and she placed it on the water and pushed it with a stick until the container reached his bank. The boy snatched it and bounded up a tree, where he pried off the lid and dipped his finger in. His joyful call brought his older sisters to the edge of the water. She pushed the containers across to their waiting hands, checking the sealed lids, setting foil packets of marlin on broad leaves. With each small bundle she waded in further, up to her waist, then her neck. As the sisters wove the last peacock feathers into their hair, the minnows in the stream nibbled her toes, knees, hips, the perch and then the pike schooling around her, their dainty jaws purposeful, almost without pain, until the last of her hair floated away.




whipchick will make you her apricot/banana stuffed French toast any time.

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Comments {82}

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Thellie

(no subject)

from: malruniel11
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
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An odd, but hauntingly beautiful story. I want a place at her table. I'd appreciate her food!!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 09:49 pm (UTC)
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Thank you thank you! So nice to have the first comment be that someone gets it - I was worried about the style :) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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baxaphobia

(no subject)

from: baxaphobia
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 10:16 pm (UTC)
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This is very unusual but I loved it! And like other comments, I'd love the food! Smile. And i'd love the French toast especially!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 11:33 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! It's a pretty rich dish, but great with bacon on the side. Just like writing!

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sikander7

adventure

from: sikander7
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
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a sort of smorgasbord of food and relationships. Well done!

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whipchick

Re: adventure

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
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Thank you - it was a lot of fun to write :)

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imafarmgirl

(no subject)

from: imafarmgirl
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
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This was so poetic. And boy you must know a lot about food to have pulled this off.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 29th, 2011 11:34 pm (UTC)
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Thanks! I love food, but I will admit to some internet research to make sure I got the details right - I love learning about stuff while I write about it!

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heartsparkradio

(no subject)

from: heartsparkradio
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
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This is beautifully written. I am simmering in your words and images.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 12:59 pm (UTC)
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Thank you - that is a beautiful compliment! I'm honored, which sounds cheesy, but is true.

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similiesslip

(no subject)

from: similiesslip
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 02:49 am (UTC)
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Made me think of being a mom. No matter what I choose to serve, at least one (often all) of my (somewhat) ungrateful kids objects.

Ugh.

But beautifully written! And honestly, I like a "sad" ending.

She gave all she had until she was eaten herself, the ultimate gift.

You are a very talented writer! I want to be more like you!!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 01:03 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! And I hope your kids grow to appreciate the breadth of what you're putting on their plates :)

And thank you - I'd like to have more of your ability to create great character through dialogue, like your rancher in the coprolite piece.

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Jemima Pauler

(no subject)

from: jem0000000
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 05:29 am (UTC)
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Poor couple. They just can't seem to find each other -- she's trying so hard, and he's so very withdrawn.

The imagery at the end is beautiful -- how she turns to giving to those who accept it, and in the end, loses herself in the giving.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 01:11 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - I wrote this based on a food memory of my mother's. In the early days of her marriage to my father, she read in a magazine that "theme dinners" would be a good way to interest one's husband, and did fondue one night, Japanese sitting on the floor around the coffee table and wearing a bathrobe to look like a geisha, etc. It wasn't all that effective :)

I'm glad you liked it - thank you!

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Not a bathrobe - (Anonymous) - Expand

yuniebaby

(no subject)

from: yuniebaby
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 08:46 am (UTC)
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I feel this way with my husband sometimes. I'll work really hard on making something new or special for him and he just eats it like it's nothing special. Men. *rolls eyes*

Really clean, solid writing, by the way. Love all the details!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 01:12 pm (UTC)
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Totally! I'm lucky that right now I'm dating a total foodie...which brings its own set of pressures :)

Thanks - I'm glad you liked the details, I did some extra research on this one :)

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(Deleted comment)

whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
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You're welcome - any time :)

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Dan

(no subject)

from: muchtooarrogant
date: Nov. 30th, 2011 10:08 pm (UTC)
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“Ay, Mami, as long you only downhill, you be fine."

LOL

That's some pretty elaborate food preparation, although there's way too much seafood for my taste. *grin* Well done.

Dan

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
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Thanks :) I never liked seafood until a couple years ago - there's still hope!

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Myrna

(no subject)

from: myrna_bird
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 12:44 am (UTC)
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Wow. That's all. Wow!

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
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Thank you :)

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shimmerdream

(no subject)

from: shimmerdream
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)
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Those descriptions were amazing. Such a beautiful but sad entry.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
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Thank you - I'm glad you liked it!

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the middle of the road's fine with no cars around

(no subject)

from: noodledays
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 01:36 am (UTC)
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wow, loved the images here, and I was not expecting quite that ending. :O

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
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Thank you!

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Kristen

(no subject)

from: pixiebelle
date: Dec. 1st, 2011 11:11 pm (UTC)
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Beautifully written. I'm lucky that I have a foodie boyfriend too, though usually he's the one cooking me delightful dishes! It's sad reading how the man doesn't appreciate his wife's hard work....


I love where you took this too. Nicely told and a wonderful story all around.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 2nd, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
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Thanks - I'm glad you liked it, and I enjoyed doing beta for you!

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jacq22

(no subject)

from: jacq22
date: Dec. 2nd, 2011 03:17 am (UTC)
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Trying to comment but the 'trouble' is back!!!!
But will just say I loved this. Have already lot two comments.

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whipchick

(no subject)

from: whipchick
date: Dec. 4th, 2011 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Thank you! So pleased you liked it :)

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