Now, as I was not fortunate enough to be included in the pupils' class this morning, I must beg the next time the dish is presented to us -- and I imagine all present will hail its renaissance with joy -- that I may be allowed to lend a hand, or even a finger, in its preparation."
"Veal, with the possible exception of Lombard beef, is the best meat we get in Italy," said the Marchesa, "so an Italian cook, when he wants to produce a meat dish of the highest excellence, generally turns to veal as a basis. I must say that the breast of veal, which is the part we had for lunch today, is a somewhat insipid dish when cooked English fashion. That we have been able to put it before you in more palatable form, and to win for it the approval of such a connoisseur as Sir John Oglethorpe, is largely owing to the judicious use of that Italian terror--more dire to many English than paper-money or brigands--garlic."
"The quantity used was infinitesimal," said Mrs. Sinclair, "but it seems to have been enough to subdue what I once heard Sir John describe as the pallid solidity of the innocent calf."
"I fear the vein of incongruity in our discourse, lately noted by Van der Roet, is not quite exhausted," said Sir John. "The Colonel was up in arms on account of a too intimate association of his name with pepper, and now Mrs. Sinclair has bracketed me with the calf, a most useful animal, I grant, but scarcely one I should have chosen as a yokefellow; but this is a digression. To return to our veal. I had a notion that garlic had something to do with the triumph of the Tenerumi, and, this being the case, I think it would be well if the Marchesa were to give us a dissertation on the use of this invaluable product."
"As Mrs. Sinclair says, the admixture of garlic in the dish in question was a very small one, and English people somehow never seem to realise that garlic must always be used sparingly. The chief positive idea they have of its characteristics is that which they gather from the odour of a French or Italian crowd of peasants at a railway station. The effect of garlic, eaten in lumps as an accompaniment to bread and cheese, is naturally awful, but garlic used as it should be used is the soul, the divine essence, of cookery. The palate delights in it without being able to identify it, and the surest proof of its charm is manifested by the flatness and insipidity which will infallibly characterise any dish usually flavoured with it, if by chance this dish should be prepared without it. The cook who can employ it successfully will be found to possess the delicacy of perception, the accuracy of judgment, and the dexterity of hand, which go to the formation of a great artist. It is a primary maxim, and one which cannot be repeated too often, that garlic must never be cut up and used as part of the material of any dish. One small incision should be made in the clove, which should be put into the dish during the process of cooking, and allowed to remain there until the cook's palate gives warning that flavour enough has been extracted. Then it must be taken out at once. This rule does not apply in equal degree to the use of the onion, the large mild varieties of which may be cooked and eaten in many excellent bourgeois dishes; but in all fine cooking, where the onion flavour is wanted, the same treatment which I have prescribed for garlic must be followed."
The Marchesa gave the Colonel and Lady Considine a holiday that afternoon, and requested Mrs. Gradinger and Van der Roet to attend in the kitchen to help with the dinner. In the first few days of the session the main portion of the work naturally fell upon the Marchesa and Angelina, and in spite of the inroads made upon their time by the necessary directions to the neophytes, and of the occasional eccentricities of the neophytes' energies, the dinners and luncheons were all that could be desired. The Colonel was not quite satisfied with the flavour of one particular soup, and Mrs. Gradinger was of opinion that one of the entrees, which she wanted to superintend herself, but which the Marchesa handed over to Mrs. Sinclair, had a great deal too much butter in its composition. Her conscience revolted at the action of consuming in one dish enough butter to solace the breakfast-table of an honest working man for two or three days; but the faintness of these criticisms seemed to prove that every one was well satisfied with the rendering of the menu of the day.