Friday, April 8

"The pudding," she cried in vindictive joy, "is guilty!"

Somehow, she had the knack of finding connections between separate events—a system of worlds ran in her head that allowed for every book she read to fit curiously into a single cosmic volume and every season of the earth to fit into a grave observation of death and rebirth.

For this reason, she often cooked without the aide of written instructions but took a few well-known practices and manipulated taste and ingredients to finish with a usually delicious and dangerously creative meal. It annoyed the assistant cooks terribly (and highly amused the scullery maids). They much preferred the time when she had been first introduced to the kitchens; a timid maiden in an overlarge, second-hand smock—and quite unused to having her wispy hair pulled back—would enter the kitchen with her instructor (everyone took turns) and with solemn countenance learn to make salads for luncheon.

Her current state of dashing about the kitchen looking for ingredients that she insisted she would "recognize" when they caught her eye was not at all one conducive to the goodwill of assistant cooks. Neither was her practice of giving the head cook exotic spices for Christmas.

Nowadays, with the strange Christmas presents, it became a game of discovering where within the Christmas evening meal the cook had used one of the ingredients.

"It is the pudding! The pudding," she cried, with her tiny dessert fork uplifted, "is guilty!"

And one of the footman or the maids, invariably in on the joke, would fetch the cook, who would be lavished with compliments and hugs and sent back to the kitchen, invariably toting a plate of food or a bottle of wine, and her favourite dessert (on which she had already nibbled while in the kitchen).

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