It was grey and miserable on the day when they cut my head off.
They had already taken everything. My livelihood, my lifestyle, and now my life. For three years I had been rotting in prison and this was the day when the “revolutionaries” would finally perform the coup de grace.
It was not fair. Killing me because of who I was married to was not very “progressive”. So much for Radicals. But the hypocrisy and the unfairness didn’t really bother me. Even in death I knew that life was not fair. I found it wryly amusing.
There was a big crowd as I was taken from from my cell to the guillotine. Nice to know I could still draw a crowd.
But more amusing still was that the “people” were still moaning! I had been nowhere near power for years and yet they still were complaining at me.
Why not shout at the bloody politicians they had put in charge?
Because they were doing what politicians always do, finding someone else to blame for their own mess, and the masses couldn’t see it. As ever! I was the fall guy for their incompetence and the bloody politicians were getting away with it. Same old same old – if it isn’t going well, blame it on the last lot.
So that’s when I said it. The people kept moaning on to me about not having enough bread. And so I said,
“Let them eat brioche”
Now I know you think I said “let them eat cake” but I definitely said brioche. You know the nice bread made with milk and eggs.
That said it wasn’t what I meant to say, I was a bit distracted. My head was in a bit of a spin because it was about to be literally in one hell of a spin. Straight into a basket.
What I meant to say was “let them eat pain perdu”. The other bread milk and egg dish. It was meant as a joke, but sadly I screwed up the punch line and boy has history not allowed me to forget it!
You see pain perdu is what you probably call French toast.
Some may be wondering about the joke. Let me explain about pain perdu. Pain perdu translates as “lost bread”. It is a recipe for using up stale bread – which anyone who has bought a French baguette will know, is very soon!
I knew that there was enough bread, it was just that the bloody politicians couldn’t get enough from the country to the city. So if they could only sort the distribution there would be enough bread – but a bit old and stale. Perfect for pain perdu!
So to say “Let Them Eat Pain Perdu” is at least witty.
But the truth is I said brioche. Now my reputation as an arrogant out of touch aristocrat who doesn’t know the effect of austerity and the cost of living on ordinary people lives on and on.
I have been planning how to write this wrong ever since. And I recently came up with a plan.
First find a Canadian.
Why a Canadian? Because in some parts of Canada pain perdu is called “pain doré” or golden bread. Nice. Let them eat golden bread. Makes me sound much more regal.
But the Canadian also needs to be nice, charismatic and working as one of the brightest minds thinking about the future.
And the Canadian needs to only be able to cook great French toast.
After decades of searching I finally found a man from Winnipeg who fits the bill. Even though I had to go to Israel to find him.
Having found Mel Rosenberg, I then needed him to be at the perfect event.
Again I struck lucky. Mel was going to be one the leading characters at Kinnernet Italy 2014 at H-Farm near Venice.
Thank God I was not going to have to haunt France. I have had enough of the place and I have always loved Venice.
And mosquitoes don’t bite ghosts.
Kinnernet was not just going to be a gathering of 100 great minds to think and discuss what interests them. They were from around the world, well connected, innovative in getting their message heard and meeting under the leadership of Yossi Vardi and Maurizio Rossi. They make good things happen.
I also struck lucky. There was going to be a last night Extravaganza where the participants would cook.
I know Mel by now. He was always going to volunteer and he can only cook the one dish. My great chance – these 100 globally connected people would get to eat great Golden bread and then spread the word about the truth behind the wronged Queen.
It started well.
Mel ordered the eggs, the milk, the bread. He chose fresh bread – it is a weird Canadian Jewish thing to cook pain perdu with fresh bread.
But then it could have all gone badly wrong. He got an Englishman to help. Not just any Englishman but one called Knight.
I hate the English. Not only have they been fighting, invading and generally irritating us ever since we conquered them in 1066, but they can not cook. And they call pain perdu “eggy bread”!
“Let Them Eat Egg Bread”
No, a disaster was just around the corner. What to do? I tried to find out more about this imposter.
It turns out he is a Lord. An aristocrat can’t be all bad. But no, he is a bloody politician! Merde!
Lord Knight mixed the many eggs, the milk, some bark (Mel’s eccentric secret ingredient is lumps of cinammon bark – he likes barking) and a little salt.
I needed a plan.
How could I distract him? Stop him from ruining it with crazy English eggy bread variants like shallow frying in butter and only using a bit of milk? These ruin the recipe and prevent that deep fried golden Canadian thing I craved.
And then it came to me. Oil and blood.
Mel always deep fried as anyone born in Winnipeg should. He hadn’t ordered butter and so the shallow frying would be avoided. As long as he was prevented from under-cooking them we would get the product I needed.
That was when I had my moment of genius.
Once the English fool started cooking I made my move.
Ghosts haunt. We normally possess one thing at a time. But this time I was ambitious. I opted to go for the big one..
Yes, I launched a plague of mosquitoes on him.
It was glorious. Every time he went to fish out the bread from the bubbling oil too soon I took blood.
As he felt the pain, he would stop, do his ineffectual English slapping thing. and then go back to the bread.
The result was a triumph!
Golden French bread for all. Deep fried. Pain perdu was re-found. And served with jam, sugar and maple syrup. As an appetiser!
They even managed to look pleased with themselves.
And of course the French toast was loved by all. And now every time any of the attendees at Kinnernet Italy 2014 see or eat French toast they will remember my story.
They will remember it should have been
“Let them eat pain perdu”
And they will tell everyone in their extensive network the truth about me, and I will finally rest in peace. Remembered as the much wronged, truly wonderful, Queen Marie Antoinette.
dedicated to all at H-Farm and those who made Kinnernet Italy 2014 such a wonderful time.