28 Apr 2010

Heston Blumenthal’s Gothic Feast

A monstrous meal is to be prepared; a meal to horrify the diners, yet one which they can still be cajoled into eating.

The first course is a blood risotto. Allow the diners to suspiciously taste it, then announce that much of the curious colour and flavour is achieved through the copious addition of beetroot juice. Then, when the course has been fully consumed and enjoyed with lipsmacking relish by all, make a second announcement in order to reveal that the other progenitor of those same colours and flavours is a smaller yet not insubstantial quantity of actual blood (semi-clotted and that of a goose, to be fully accurate, but this detail can be held in reserve in the case of a diner failing to retch.)

Also, impale a few gastropods on a crucifix and deep-fry the resulting situation. A startling garnish, I'm sure you'll agree.

The main course is a replica of Frankenstein's Monster. The first prototype is a disaster, and an affront to God and Nature. It consists of a decorticated sheep's head sporting a yellow woolly hat and set atop an unlikely arrangement of roughly-butchered bones. Even if the sheep's face were gilded with 24 carat gold leaf as per my original instructions, it seems unlikely to pique the appetites of the vast majority of the dining public. References to the novels of Dennis Wheatley seem acceptable and even appropriate in a dining room themed on the Gothic, whereas the inclusion of those to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre seems more divisive. Scrap it.

In fact, burn it. Such a monstrosity should never have been unleashed on the world in any case, least of all as the result of cooking, and thus it is our responsibility to destroy the thing, to do so immediately and with fire.

The second attempt involved serving a meal using the partial skeleton of a former man as a form of crockery. Most of the long bones have been split lengthways and, with the aid of toast, a rich marrow pâté can be scooped out of the trays made from humerus and femur. Slow-cooked porkmeat fills out the intercostal gaps, taking the place of the underdone human muscle formerly located there. The vertebrae have been replaced entirely with braised hearts of palm, each filled with a substitute cerebrospinal fluid made from puréed fennel.

The skull requires more consideration of circumstance. If it were that of a sworn adversary of the diners', lopped off by one of their own swords, it would be served quite differently; a rich hummus in the open brainpan, the empty eye sockets maintaining a supply of grissini, and the distances between the teeth being employed in holding crudités. But this is likely the skull of a pauper, with whom none of the diners have experienced direct mortal contact or conflict, and so is viewed with no especial animosity. Therefore the scraps of desiccated thinkmeat clinging to the skull's interior will provide ample seasoning, and there is no need to go overtop with the presentation; a simple stew can be spooned into the brainpan and then the crown replaced to create a rustic dish which never fails to unsettle.

Luckily, none of the diners have attempted to munch down on a bony portion of the once-living platter. The skeleton is laid out there to imbue flavour and not be itself consumed. It is always embarrassing when a guest bites down on a rogue bouquet garni or cardomom pod; more so when the culinary faux pas leads to their inadvertent execution of an abhorrence.

In due course, a dessert composed of a miniature cemetery was served. The faces of the diners are illuminated by eerie orbs of artificial corpse light, frozen into masks of horror as they notice that the toytown graves are engraved with their own names. With an almost primal trepidation, they take up the shovel-shaped utensils provided and begin to dig:

"The dirt is chocolate, guys! And its riddled with gummy worms."

"You've got to lick the bottom of this tombstone."

"My coffin is full of fudge, caramel and praline. And it's all sweets at the bottom, once you battle through the layers."


"I've got breasts!", she exclaimed. "There's a torso of breasts in my grave."

"Above your coffin?" He seemed sceptical.

"Yeah, just resting on top of it."

"Sounds like bad juju to me…" He peered tightly at his own grave, not wanting to give her the satisfaction.

"They appear well-formed and made from some sort of dyed gelatine."

He thought for a moment, then allowed himself to be convinced.

"Can I try a bit?" They each tore off a small square of gummy torso and popped it into their mouths. "Argh! It's like cranberry beef jerky. Or a fruit roll-up made from some sort of zombie fruit." He tried to spit it out, but it was already dissolved on his tongue.

"We now share a bond that can never be broken. Together we have partaken of the flesh, the most impure of all fleshes. Thus, biblically, we are now one corrupted flesh that can never be cleansed or torn asunder." She drew herself up to her full height, but that head was supported by no body. The empty gown was dragged along until it caught on the bench before her and was pulled back like a ta-da! veil, revealing the tangle of melting bone and tube emerging from the bloody plinthless base beneath her placid features.

"What…?" He started to demand an explanation, but the sound of bubbling from below captured his attention. The slow emptying of his clothes, accompanied by a deep pain arcing through his entire body, forced him to refocus it onto the act of screaming, his head being propelled backwards through the room by the force the shrieks he expelled.

"One corrupted flesh," she continued, her new entirety bobbing like a wayward helium balloon, and dripping fluids onto the linoleum.

Read my mind's bibble inspired by Heston Blumenthal's Victorian Feast

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