Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/48

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38
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The Langham has been eclipsed by some Regent Street club-rooms, if not by Delmonico's, but Paris is still the Mecca of epicures, and even during the Prussian siege Baron Brisse would have undertaken to improve on the above menu. Next, perhaps, comes St. Petersburg with its mislanitza and caviare-suppers, then London, New York, and the city that derives its name from ham-sandwiches, as Heine suggests.

The champion belt of Apicius belongs probably to Count Luckner, a Russian dignitary of vast estates in the government of Smolensk, and for a time ambassador at the court of Vienna, where he left because Herr Saphire called him an emotional swill-barrel! At his country seat of Ranzow he is said to receive a daily programme de cuisine from his major-domo, which he scrutinizes like the plan of a campaign. He is known to have knouted the landlord of a country tavern for using lard instead of butter in a dish of cauliflowers, and once he nearly broke the heart of his favorite cook by degrading him to the rank of dish-washer for a similar offense. "Crying and whining will not mend the matter, sir," he told the tearful penitent; "if you had assassinated your gray-haired father, I might call it a perfectly natural act: but that you combine raisins and pork in the same ragout, you must ask your God to pardon you—I can not!" At a banquet in Vienna he was able to indicate the native country of six different kinds of pheasants, but once created a sensation at his hotel by upsetting his chair and leaving the table-d’hôte in a towering passion—they had employed hartshorn instead of yeast in the preparation of a certain variety of sponge-cake!

Berlin has its Jockey Club and a "Hof-Restauration," and in elaborate soupers can dispute the prestige of St. Petersburg, but Vienna is too gross in its tastes to deserve a place in this list, though to a Hungarian palate its gulash (a ragout of broiled mutton) and Kaiser-suppen take rank with nectar and ambrosia. Quantity is prized more than quality here, as well as in other parts of southern Germany or in Bohemia, where forty men of a Prussian regiment could successively impersonate a Bohemian burgher before anything wrong was suspected. During the last occupation of Prague by the North-German troops, the legend runs, there was a grand masked ball at the opera-house, in the lower story of which a regiment of Prussian dragoons had been quartered. Somehow or other the soldiers got possession of a domino or complete masquerade suit, representing a fat burgomaster in his official toggery. An adventurous private donned the suit and gained admittance to the superas auras of the ballroom, and so on to the refreshment-hall, where his enterprise was rewarded by all the luxuries of the Bohemian season. His return to the guard-room with the tale of triumph caused a bonanza sensation, but discipline prevailed, and the regiment was organized into ten-minute reliefs, who in quick succession stormed the works and performed feats of gastronomic daring which soon drew a circle of admirers around the refreshment-table. In and