Johannes Mario Simmel’s Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein is a juicy WWII spy novel that, in every other paragraph, features a new and unexpected turn (followed by a bold-face cliff hanger), and supplies cooking recipes throughout. On p. 333 (in the Knaur pocket edition), we learn how, in Paris, Thomas Lieven (the cooking hero) saves a perch that Therese (the clumsy kitchen maid in the service of the banker Ferroud [a crook]), had dropped so it broke apart: He makes a gratin.
“Cook a whole fish, drain it well, discard the skin and the bones and divide it into pieces,” the recipe begins. Then, a lot of other cooking goes on, while the bits of fish get cold – finally they are incorporated into a sauce (white sauce, white mushrooms, capers, white wine, crème fraiche and parmesan) and the whole is put into the oven. Check the finest recipes in your favorite cookbook. They almost always require some preparation on top of another, or the process must be very simple indeed:
Fry the chicken livers in olive oil with the onion rings, add white wine, sage and pepper, mince them using the biggest chef’s knife you have, add breadcrumbs, chopped garlic and parsley etc. etc.;
Slice the turkey breasts in thin layers, bread them thoroughly, fry them in oil, and slice these slivers diagonally as soon as they are cool enough to handle. Put these on top of the salad;
Quickly sear the cubes of tuna and immerse them in a mix of soy sauce with chopped garlic and ginger, while the other preparations go on;
Roast the hippopotamus and set aside to cool. (more…)