SAUCIER’S APPRENTICES
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RANGE: Four-star French restaurants, executive dining rooms, diplomatic
pieds-à-terre, country club kitchens, even The Average American Home—
wherever pretentious food is being prepared (or attempted), these wicked
imps can be found, and the more haute the cuisine, the higher the jinks
they’re up to. They inhabit the oven, for extreme heat does not bother them as
they perform ritual cake deflations inside. Nor do they mind the refrigerator’s
cold, as they gnaw away at the cellophane, all the better to “freezer burn”
those treasured filets. Chances are, your kitchen is full of them—n’est-ce
pas?
HABITS: Like good chefs everywhere, the Saucier’s Apprentices know that
preparation is so important. Thus, hours before the cooking is to begin, they
are busy in the kitchen, blunting the knives, bending the spoons, jamming the
blender, blowing out the pilot light, hiding the butter, and souring the cream.
They are never happier than when a perfectly normal mortal decides to
“really get into cooking,” and to that end acquires numerous, indecipherable
recipe books and elaborate expensive utensils—preferably electric and
dangerous. A classic Saucier’s Apprentice technique (or “true”) is to spill
tomato sauce on a metric conversion table, which can result in some
amazingly good concoctions accidentally being whipped up by the
Apprentice’s victim, who thereafter must guess at the proportions, should he
or she ever wish to make the dish again.
Malfunctioning scales, timers and thermometers? Off-speed Cuisinarts,
lukewarm ice cream makers, pasty pasta? If your gourmet meal looks slightly
unreal, blame the Saucier’s Apprentice.
HISTORY: Many believe that Saucier’s Apprentices are of French
extraction, but anyone who has eaten in England knows better. They are, in
fact, Hob Goblins, (first described in the Julia Childe Ballads) the legendary
spirits of the British fireside, who burnt the cakes for King Alfred and whose
hideous names have been given to so many British dishes: Bubble and
Squeak, Banger, Toad in Hole, Pig in a Blanket, etc. An aristocratic member
of the family is to this day responsible for all runny omelettes: Will o’ the
Whisk.
Confined at first to the kitchens of the very rich in America, the
Saucier’s Apprentices have become dangerously active in recent years with
the malevolent help of the Mind Boggles, through whose channels they
introduced the blasphemous rites of foreign cooking into the hearts and
kitchens of the formerly naive and hamburger-happy homemakers of the
United States. Many a harmless Shake-and-Baker has thus been Bearded in
her den, transformed into a veal-boning, Hollan-dazed, stir-crazy, woked-out,
long order kook.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: If you have shell fragments in the scrambled eggs, lumps
in the gravy, charcoal toast, oil slicks in the soup, concrete croissants, silly
millimeter-high soufflés, a julienned index finger and a well-done thumb,
then you have Saucier’s Apprentices infesting your kitchen. Send out for
Chinese.

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