They are tasteless largely because the cook persists in shredding them into minute bits, and I maintain that they ought to be cooked whole--certainly when they are young--and sautez, a perfectly plain and easy process, which is hard to beat. Plain boiled cauliflower is doubtless good, but cooked alla crema it is far better; indeed, it is one of the best vegetable dishes I know. But perhaps the greatest discovery in cookery we Italians ever made was the combination of vegetables and cheese. There are a dozen excellent methods of cooking cauliflower with cheese, and one of these has come to you through France, choux-fleurs au gratin, and has become popular. Jerusalem artichokes treated in the same fashion are excellent; and the cucumber, nearly always eaten raw in England, holds a first place as a vegetable for cooking. I seem to remember that every one was loud in its praises when we tasted it as an adjunct to Manzo alla Certosina. Why is it that celery is for the most part only eaten raw with cheese? We have numberless methods of cooking it in Italy, and beetroot and lettuce as well. There is no spinach so good as English, and nowhere is it so badly cooked; it is always coarse and gritty because so little trouble is taken with it, and I can assure you that the smooth, delicate dish which we call Flano di spinacci is not produced merely by boiling and chopping it, and turning it out into a dish."
Menu -- Lunch
Minestrone alla Milanese. Vegetable broth. Coniglio alla Provenzale. Rabbit alla Provenzale. Insalata di pomidoro. Tomato salad.
Menu -- Dinner.
Zuppa alla Maria Pia. Soup alla Maria Pia. Anguilla con ortaggi alla Milanese. Eels with vegetables. Manzo con sugo di barbabietoli. Fillet of beef with beetroot sauce. Animelle alla parmegiana. Sweetbread with parmesan. Perniciotti alla Gastalda. Partridges alla Gastalda. Uova ripiani. Stuffed eggs.
The Tenth Day
The sun rose on the tenth and last day at the "Laurestinas" as he was wont to rise on less eventful mornings. At breakfast the Marchesa proposed that the lunch that day should be a little more ornate than usual, and the dinner somewhat simpler. She requisitioned the services of six of the company to prepare the lunch, and at the same time announced that they would all have a holiday in the afternoon except Mrs. Sinclair, whom she warned to be ready to spend the afternoon in the kitchen helping prepare the last dinner.
Four dishes, all admirable, appeared at lunch, and several of the party expressed regret that the heat of the weather forbade them from tasting every one; but Sir John was not of these. He ate steadily through the menu, and when he finally laid down his knife and fork he heaved a sigh, whether of satisfaction or regret it were hard to say.
"It is a commonplace of the deepest dye to remark that ingratitude is inherent in mankind," he began; "I am compelled to utter it, however, by the sudden longing I feel for a plate from the hand of the late lamented Narcisse after I have eaten one of the best luncheons ever put on a table."
"Experience of one school of excellence has caused a hankering after the triumphs of another," said Miss Macdonnell "There is one glory of the Marchesa, there is, or was, another of Narcisse, and the taste of the Marchesa's handiwork has stimulated the desire of comparision. Never mind, Sir John, perhaps in another world Narcisse may cook you--"
"Oh stop, stop, for goodness' sake," cried Sir John, "I doubt whether even he could make me into a dainty dish to set before the King of Tartarus, though the stove would no doubt be fitted with the latest improvements and the fuel abundant."
"Really, Sir John, I'm not sure I ought not to rise and protest," said Mrs. Wilding, "and I think I would if it weren't our last day."
"Make a note of Sir John's wickedness, and pass it on to the Canon for use in a sermon," said Van der Roet.
"I can only allow you half-an-hour, Laura," said the Marchesa to Mrs.