CHAPTER 1–CHARDONNAY MAN
Mom and Dad never talked much about the visit of Robert and his friend Jean, but I still remember how my French heroes smashed into our propane tank, burned down our barn, and tried to drive away with Mom.
Their stay, while arguably bad for Mom, a nondescript, faded beauty of 5’ 5” who now looked like a Russet potato with red hair, and Dad, an incredibly typical Republican farmer, inspired me to court my Frenchwoman.
Her name was Yvette Airelle. She wore dresses instead of overalls, dyed her hair blue to match her eyes, and smelled wonderful on the days that she showered. Her Parisian parents had sent her to Wheaton High to learn English, but she just wouldn’t talk to us brutes from Wisconsin.
But she would, if I learned how to act French like Jean and Robert. But I could do that, for I had Robert’s slightly charred diary. It was a wonderful book.
At first, just picking it up would make me daydream about them. Later, its passages came more and more to resemble my life.
Yes, I remember picturing them at their favorite café sipping their champagne when . . .
* * *
“There he is, the Premier of Belgium! At this very café, at this very table! Monsieur Le Secraisin, I must act.”
“Monsieur le reporter, I too am outraged. He is sitting at our table. But how shall we get rid of him? Ah, he is eating pêche flambé.”
“You set the man on fire! The head of Belgium! They are taking him away.”
“Monsieur, have a seat. Our table just became available. Calm yourself. I, Robert Le Secraisin, am a much better interview.
“You, of course, wonder, ‘what makes me so wonderful?’ You notice my dashing good looks and effortless charm. But still you think, ‘But this is not enough. These qualities only make me one in a thousand. What makes me the center of everyone’s attention?’ Well, for the few who do not know me, I race balloons. Yes, I do this with such style for such a worthy cause. I race for wine!
“But yes, I am a splendid 38 year-old, and in just eleven days, I shall take to the skies for the honor of my venerable vineyard, ‘Le Cerveau Malsain,’ and my fellow ‘Lords of Fun.’
“My goal is to bring the first bottle of Chardonnay wine to the British market in the annual Chardonnay balloon race. I am most assuredly the best.
“Ho! ho! I will spend the prize money on the best wine, talk to my many admirers, and say pretty things to all the beautiful women who wish to be seen with me. Yes, my life is one that all people should have.
“Ah! Here is my good friend Jean Bouillonner. Jean, will you join us for some pêche flambé?”
Paul De Lancey, The Comic Chef, Ph.D.
My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with its 180 wonderful recipes, my newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, and all my other books, are available on amazon.com.