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"The Doctor's Dinner"
(from Tobias Smollett's The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle)
[Wherein the good doctor treats his guests to a genuine antique Roman dinner...with a few substitutions...]The Doctor with an air of infinite satisfaction began:--This here, gentlemen, is a boiled goose, served up in a sauce composed of pepper, lovage, coriander, mint, rue, anchovies, and oil! I wish for your sakes, gentlemen, it was one of the geese of Ferrara, so much celebrated among the ancients for the magnitude of their livers, one of which is said to have weighed upwards of two pounds: with this food, exquisite as it was, did the tyrant Heliogabalus regale his hounds. But I beg pardon, I had almost forgotten the soup, which I hear is so necessary an article at all tables in France. At each end there are dishes of the salacacabia of the romans; one is made of parsley, pennyroyal, cheese, pine-tops, honey, vinegar, brine, eggs, cucumbers, onions, and hen-livers; the other is much the same as the soupe-maigre of this country. Then there is a loin of veal boiled with fennel and caraway seed, on a pottage composed of pickle, oil, honey, and flour, and a curious hachis of the lights, liver and blood of a hare, together with a dish of roasted pigeons. Monsieur le Baron, shall I help you to a plate of this soup?--The German, who did not at all approve of the ingredients, assented to the proposal, and seemed to relish the composition; while the marquis was in consequence of his desire accommodated with a portion of the soupe-maigre; and the count supplied himself with a pigeon....
The Frenchman, having swallowed the first spoonful, made a pause; his throat swelled as if an egg had stuck in his gullet, his eyes rolled, and his mouth underwent a series of involuntary contractions and dilations. Pallet, who looked steadfastly at this connoisseur, with a view of consulting his taste, before he himself would venture upon the soup, began to be disturbed at these emotions, and observed, with some concern, that the poor gentleman seemed to be going into a fit; when Peregrine assured him these were symptoms of ecstasy, and, for further confirmation, asked the marquis how he found the soup. It was with infinite difficulty that his complaisance could so far master his disgust, as to enable him to answer, "Altogether excellent, upon my honor!" And the painter, being certified of his approbation, lifted the spoon to his mouth without scruple; but far from justifying the eulogium of his taster, when this precious composition diffused itself upon his palate, he seemed to be deprived of all sense and motion, and sat like the leaden statue of some river god, with the liquor flowing out at both sides of his mouth....
The Doctor, alarmed at this indecent phenomenon, earnestly inquired into the cause of it; and when Pallet recovered his recollection, and swore that he would rather swallow porridge made of burning brimstone, than such an infernal mess as that which he had tasted, the physician, in his own vindication, assured the company that, except the usual ingredients, he had mixed nothing in the soup but some salammoniac instead of the ancient nitrum, which could not now be procured; and appealed to the marquis, whether such a succedaneum was not an improvement of the whole. The unfortunate petit-maître, driven to the extremity of his condescension, acknowledged it to be a masterly refinement; and deeming himself obliged, in point of honor, to evince his sentiment by his practice, forced a few more mouthfuls of this disagreeable potion down his throat, till his stomach was so much offended that he was compelled to start up of a sudden; and, in the hurry of his elevation, overturned his plate into the bosom of the baron. The emergency of his occasion would not permit him to stay and make apologies for this abrupt behavior; so that he flew into another apartment, where Pickle found him puking, and crossing himself with great devotion; and a chair, at his desire, being brought to the door, he slipped into it, more dead than alive....