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November 27, 2023
"Mes de los Muertos"

Dinner With Henry 116: Epiphany

By Bruce Memblatt

Summer was over, and all of Delancey Street was revving up for the new mall. With construction about to commence, food trucks began showing up on the block in anticipation of the coming supply of hungry construction workers.

Andre was sitting at the table near the stove when the idea hit him. He was a chef, he had a staff. Well, he had a blind midget, a one-eared former nurse that did nothing, a half-bug sometime dishwasher, and a worm-eating fumbling old witch.

Nevertheless he had a kitchen.

Not only could he make a few extra bucks, but he could sharpen his culinary skills and also get to make stuff that wasn't ninety percent sugar!

His head swam with possibilities.

Shakespeare tugged on Andre's leg. "What's going on, Andre? Why so quiet?"

"Shakespeare, I had a dream."

"Uh oh."

"No, Shakespeare, listen." Andre's eyes widened. "With construction on the new mall beginning soon, I am thinking I could be a real chef. Cook for real people, real meals! And we could make a bunch of money too."

Shakespeare's ears perked. "I like money."

"Ha ha, I know you do! It will be fabulous. In the mornings I will prepare a continental breakfast. And in the afternoons, amazing succulent lunches: French, Italian, Asian dishes that will make their heads spin."

Shakespeare tugged on Andre's leg again. "Andre, I think construction workers would rather have something regular, like burgers, sandwiches, chips."

Andre waved his hands, "Oh please, Shakespeare, everyone wants to try something different. Wait till they taste my ricotta asparagus soufflé!"

Suddenly, they heard a cough and they turned their heads.

"Ahem," Maria said, shaking her head, standing by the stove. "Excuse me, no one will be using my kitchen to make meals for anyone but Her. You got it, muchachos?"


Maria's head and bracelets shook. "Sorry, chubby, no dice, you've done all the expanding you are gonna do."

Shakespeare giggled.

Henry entered the kitchen, chewing on an apple. "Good morning. So what is today's dilemma?"

Andre raised his hands and cried, "Henry! Henry! I'm so glad you're here! I had this fantastic idea! With the new mall going up, and all those construction workers needing food, I thought, why not make some extra money? I could make wonderful meals for them and we could bring in the dough!" Andre laughed, "Get it? Dough!"

Maria shook her head, sat down and mumbled, "Oy vey."

Henry sighed and said, "But wouldn't we have to get some kind of permit from the city? The food trucks, I believe, have vendor's licenses."

Andre's eyes, nose, and ears quivered, and he raised his hands again, "BUT HENRY, we are already a restaurant! We must have the papers already!"

Maria shook her head. "What restaurant? We are a private kitchen that feeds one giant bug."

Andre suddenly looked like he got kicked in the belly, "You mean to say I am not a chef in a restaurant?"

"Sorry, Bucko," Shakespeare snapped, "you are not even a chef in a diner."

Andre's eyes began to water. "I think this is the saddest thing I have ever heard. OH, HARSH REALITY, HOW COULD YOU VISIT THIS UPON ME TODAY; ON THE VERGE OF MY GREATEST TRIUMPH?" Tears ran down his cheeks. " I must sing ! Please don't try to stop me!"

The room hushed, and winced.

Andre bowed his head and he began:

Oh great tragedy of life, what can I say?
What can I say? What can I say on this mournful day?
They say I am not a chef!
They say I live in a fantasy!
They say my mind is made of Brie.
What will become of me?
Oh terrible reality.
Lift me from this tragic tragedy.

He got on his knees, pounded his chest, and cried some more.

Then Diego entered the kitchen and sighed, "Okay,what is he doing now? A grown-up chef sitting on the floor wailing like a moth."

"Like a moth?" Andre's eyes crossed.

Shakespeare giggled.

Henry sighed, and Andre continued, his eyes still tearing, "But I am not a grown-up chef. I am not any kind of a chef! I am just a man who works in a private kitchen serving a giant insane bug."

"Now, wait just a second," Henry said. His wing drooped.

"Sorry, Henry."

Then Diego half-smiled, stared at Andre and said, "But you are still a chef."

"I am?"

"Yes, Big One, you don't have to work in a restaurant to be a chef."

"I don't? Are you sure?"

"I think she's right, Bucko," Shakespeare said, and then he snapped, "But you still have to learn how to cook."

Andre glared at Shakespeare."But I know how to cook, you leetle worm!"

Diego sighed, rubbed her belly, turned to Henry and said,"How come we are always in a kitchen but there is never any food around?"

Suddenly, Maria raised her hands in despair and cried, "Because everything is blanched and drenched in sugar. EVERYTHING! IT IS LIKE LIVING IN DUNKIN' DONUTS! I CAN'T STAND IT!"

Diego began to stare at the door, and she said to Henry, "Can we go to Mickey D's for lunch, please!"

"I don't see why not," Henry grinned.

"Oh please, I must come too!" Maria cried, grabbing her bag from the table, and picking at her hair.

"Me too!" Shakespeare snapped. "It will be nice to have some real food."

Then Andre cried, shaking his fists at Shakespeare, "What do you mean real food, you leetle toad! Fine, you all go. HAVE YOUR CHEAP DOLLAR MENU BURGERS AND FRIES, YOU BUNCH OF TRAITORS. I will stay right here in MY KITCHEN and cook myself a grand meal!"

Andre watched them leave, smiling and tugging at their clothing.

Then he cracked an egg and said,"I am the greatest chef in the world and you shall be the perfect omelet."

And the egg sighed and replied, "But you are not even a chef -- just a man with a hat who feeds a crazy bug."

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2014-09-01
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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