Short Story by Willard Mans

They were a sleek, plump couple, sitting up in bed and reading. Andrew, the husband, put his book down and tried to slip an arm around his wife. She squirmed out of his grasp. He frowned and made another move, which she also rebuffed.

He sat fulminating for a while, then decided on a different course of action. He leaned over and whispered in her ear.

“Brown-bread ice-cream.”

Rita perked up and looked at him. Encouraged, he went on:

“Foie gras creme caramel.”

That got a smile out of her, so he continued:

“Crisp croquettes with a liquid center of truffles and chestnuts.”

She closed her book and set it down on the night-table.

“Sea urchin sabayon.”

“Yummy,” she said.

He followed up with another suggestion. “Grilled tuna with salmoriglio, then a fish stew with mackerel, sea bream and monk-fish filets.”

“Raw mussels and prawns must be served first,” she instructed. “Then a base of good stock should be prepared, with onions, garlic and bay leaves.”

“Don’t forget a pinch of saffron, some chopped potatoes, tomatoes, and–-“

”A slug of white wine!”

“Of course!” he cried. “A good Chardonnay.”

“I prefer Sauvignon Blanc.”

“All right, all right, have it your way.” He swallowed his resentment and said, ”Then we should serve a nice chateaubriand dusted with piment d’Espelette–-“

”No, no–-stick with seafood!”

“Be specific.”

“A fresh-caught ombrina, flown in from the Adriatic, sprinkled with salt and pepper, baked in the oven for ninety minutes.”

“I’m beginning to salivate,” he said.

“Preceded by canapes Charlemagne: shrimp seasoned with curry sauce on toast.”

“Too good to be true.”

“So much for lunch,” she proclaimed. “Now let’s concentrate on dinner. What about the roast chicken we had in Paris at Chez L’Ami Louis? Do you remember that meal?”

“Oh God do I ever! The chef covered the chicken with lemon juice, lots of butter and thyme–-“

”And tarragon!” she added.

“Oh yes, tarragon! Roasted very hot, then with the heat turned down.”



He stroked her shoulder. This time she welcomed it, snuggled up against him. He began to free-associate.

“Poula de Bresse, artichokes, foie gras–-“

She followed his lead. “Bone the chicken, then fill it with the artichoke hearts–-“

”–-and the foie gras–“

”And cook it slowly, very slowly.”

“And serve it with a cherry vinaigrette!”

He kissed her. She kissed him back. They began to murmur to each other.

“The French Menu Cookbook.”

“The Art of Russian Cuisine.”

“French Provincial Cooking.”

“The Four Seasons Cookbook.”

Rita cried out ecstatically. “The Gourmet Cookbook, Volumes One Through Four!”

He had to think fast. “Joel Robuchon!”

“Julia Child!” she shot back.

“MFK Fisher!”

“Paul Bocuse!”

“Wolfgang Puck!”

There was a pause, then she went for the coup de grace.

“Claude Escoffier!”

That did it. He went at her and she received him willingly, hungrily. It went on. Soon she clutched him and cried out, “OhmyGod, I’m having the best orgasm of my life!”