The Undesired Gift

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was looking at one of his bookshelves and was noticing his copy of Larousse Gastronomique. And a story popped into his head. You see, for many years on this particular bookshelf there was a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and a very handsome copy of a “cookbook” put out by Le Cordon Bleu a Paris. They sat side by side as dual tomes of French culinary reference at your Maximum Leader’s fingertips.

But today, only the copy of Larousse Gastronomique remains…

The story begins in the late 1950s. Back then your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandfather was in the employ of the Department of Defense and seconded (as it were) to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Also back in those days, the French were full military members of NATO. From time to time business took your Maximum Leader’s grandfather from Washington DC to Paris. On these trips he got to fly first class, drink wine, eat good food, and meet with lots of military types who said “harumph, harumph, harumph” a lot.

On one of these trips to Paris, your Maximum Leader’s grandfather was taken by his French hosts to Le Cordon Bleu. He was feted, wine’d and dine’d and generally shown a good time. The next day your Maximum Leader’s grandfather returned to the famed cooking school to pick up a little something for his loving wife. He selected a new cookbook they had just published. It was about 500 pages thick. The tome was bound in green leather and covered in gold leaf. Roughly a third of the pages were colour photos of the food described in the pages. The “cookbook” was acutally a meal planner. The first chapter showed the various courses one should prepare for multicourse meals. Then subsequent chapter broke down the recipies for each course.

It was quite a book. Quite an impressive book in fact. It was the type of book that a collector of books would look at and want to own. In fact, it was more of a tome than anything you could get from the Easton Press.

Your Maximum Leader’s grandfather had the book smartly wrapped and flew it back in his carry on bag from Paris to Washington DC. Upon returning home he gave the book to his wife (your Maximum Leader’s maternal grandmother). She regarded the book dimissively and put it aside. She didn’t speak to him for a while.

You see, your Maximum Leader’s grandmother was insulted that her husband felt the need to suggest to her (by the gifting of the book) that she might need a fancy french cookbook. She was an excellent cook. And she didn’t need any fancy schmancy book to tell her how and what to cook for a 7 course formal summertime dinner.

So, the leather-bound, gold-leaf encrusted, fancy schmancy cookbook languished - unopened and unthought of - in the bottom of a closet for decades.

Decades later, your Maximum Leader came across the cookbook. He was rumaging through the closet looking for something else. He found the book and brought it out. He showed it to his grandparents, who explained the story. His grandmother said that if he wanted the book he could take it. Of course, he did.

So, the fancy Cordon Bleu cookbook and the Larousse Gastromonique sat side by side on his bookshelf for years.

Until they were both destroyed by a renegade dog while your Maximum Leader was in graduate school…

But that is another story.

Carry on.

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