Glacière

   6

Glaciere

Paris in winter is not an auspicious time to make ice cream, but when one is poor, and ambitious, and haunted by the spirit of Antonin Carème, one does what one must.

Mélanie let go of the handle of the sorbetière for a moment, stretching out stiffened fingers. Her hands weren’t actually turning blue, they just felt as though they should be.

“Why have you stopped?” The ghost’s voice was irritated. “The custard is not frozen yet. It will develop ice crystals.”

I will develop ice crystals,” Mélanie muttered under her breath. The middle of the night in January and she was making ice cream for a ghost. But she had learned from experience that attempting to go back to sleep was not an option.

“Come! You must keep it moving from right to left until it is completely smooth, rich, and of a consistent body. I have told you this before. It does not matter how good your custard is if you cannot make a smooth crème glacée at the end of it.”

Mélanie sighed, and returned to her task, wondering briefly what her neighbours would think if they came outside and saw her standing on her balcony at midnight, turning custard constantly in an antique sorbetière, while snow fell around her. An asylum might almost be restful, if she could guarantee that the ghost would not follow her there.

For a few minutes, the only sound on the balcony was the creaking, scraping noise of the sorbetière turning in its bucket of ice.

At last, Carème’s spirit seemed to be satisfied. “Enough! Now, stir the cream again one more time, and then leave it to set in the ice house, and we will move on to the pastries.”

“I am sorry, Monsieur. We do not have an ice house. Can we set the custard here on the balcony instead?”

“No ice house?” The phantom seemed shocked, as he was shocked every night when Mélanie admitted to her lack of such a fundamental resource. Mélanie still shuddered when she recalled his reaction the week she could not afford eggs. “Are we savages now, or Italians, to make an ice cream without a proper custard?” he had cried, before going into full poltergeist mode and waking the woman who lived in the apartment upstairs.  There had been a complaint made to the landlord, and Mélanie had been threatened with eviction. Since then, she had been careful to keep her kitchen supplied with patisserie basics. And not to buy anything made of glass.

As usual, the lack of an ice house seemed to break some sort of spell for Carème. He blinked and looked around him, uncertainly. “But where am I? This is not the Rothschilds’ palace.” He frowned. “This kitchen is appallingly poorly-equipped, boy.”

Mélanie had been taken aback the first time Careme had called her ‘garçon’, but by now, this was simply part of the nightly visitation. Her short hair and pyjamas might have been the source of his confusion, or perhaps he really was seeing one of his former apprentices, and not her at all. “Yes, Monsieur,” she agreed.

The ghost narrowed his eyes. “You do not answer my question. Where am I? What is this place?”

His gaze became suspicious, even accusing, as he scanned the room. From experience, Mélanie knew that he was now seeing the apartment for the first time. She prepared to duck, but tonight, Carème seemed disinclined to throw things, either with hands or without them.

She sighed, and began the speech she had given so many times before.

“I’m very sorry Monsieur. You are not with the Rothschilds any more. They died many years ago, and I’m afraid that so did you. You are a ghost, Monsieur Carème. You have never told me why you come here, but I am your many times great-granddaughter, and I believe that has something to do with it. Do you remember yet?”

The look on his face when he began to remember had haunted Mélanie’s dreams ever since he first appeared in her apartment the previous autumn. It was an expression of the most profound loss, mingled with what seemed to be regret. His body faded with his expression until Mélanie was alone in her apartment again.

Well, alone with a bowl of custard. This one was flavoured with nectarines. She dipped her finger into it for a taste. Carème had insisted on poaching the nectarines very lightly in a syrup flavoured with basil and lemon verbena, and the result was glorious – fresh, gently herbal, and reminiscent of a late-summer garden. She had no idea where Carème’s ghost was finding nectarines at this time of year, but the ingredients he brought with him were always at the peak of their flavour, as if freshly chosen from some spectral farmer’s market. They made substantial enough confections, however. She licked her finger again, then carried the bowl into the kitchen, where she scraped it into a container to finish freezing. There was no point in wasting excellent ice cream, and who knew when her great-great-however-many-times-removed-grandfather would visit again?

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“Mel, why do you have 24 tubs of ice cream in your freezer?”

Mélanie shrugged awkwardly. “I just felt like making ice cream.”

Séverine, her girlfriend of five months and flatmate of approximately six hours, closed the freezer door and looked at her. “Twenty-four different flavours of it? In January? You realise it’s sleeting out there, right? The freezer is practically redundant.”

“We’ve been doing all those custards and crème pats at school. I got a bit bored with eating my practice shots, so I thought I’d give ice cream a try.”

Séverine raised an eyebrow at her. “You’ve been bitching about brioche every time I’ve spoken to you for the last week. Custards were last semester. Come on, Mel, if you’re going to lie to me, at least make it convincing. What is this? Some sort of addiction? Do I need to stage an intervention?”

Mélanie looked down at her hands. She’d known that letting Séverine move in was a bad idea, but she hadn’t been able to bring herself to say no.  She had the space, after all, and she wanted to be with Sev.  Her apprenticeship and Séverine’s unsociable working hours gave them little enough time together as it was. Moving to a less haunted apartment might have been wiser, but she wasn’t ready to let go of Carème yet, either.  Despite the sleep deprivation, a part of her looked forward to his lessons.  Besides, there was no guarantee that he wouldn’t have followed her.  And she liked this apartment.

Still, it had been stupid to think she could hide her midnight apprenticeship from a live-in girlfriend…

She had been silent for too long.

Sweetheart, it can’t be that bad. Just tell me what’s going on.” She heard Séverine opening the freezer door again. “We could try some of this – Jesus, Mel, brown bread ice cream? Tomato and avocado? Rose geranium? Well, that doesn’t sound so bad, at least… Parmesan?? Is there anything normal in here?” She pulled out a few containers, and started rummaging around for bowls. “Violet and cassis should be alright, anyway. But seriously, what is going on? When are you even finding the time to make this stuff?”

“I’m… not sleeping very much at the moment,” she hedged, then stopped

Séverine scooped perfect ice cream quenelles into two bowls. “And…?”

“It’s not that I don’t want to tell you, it’s just… you aren’t going to believe me.”

“We’ve already established that you are a terrible liar. What’s not to believe?”

“Well, you’ll think I’m crazy then.”

Séverine slid onto the sofa next to her, plonking the two bowls down on the table as she went. “Mélanie.  Darling. You have parmesan ice cream in your freezer. That ship sailed long ago.”

Mélanie tried to smile, and failed. Her girlfriend reached out for her hands. “Mélanie, whatever it is, you can tell me. I won’t think you’re crazy, I promise. Obsessed, maybe, like every other chef I’ve ever met, but not crazy.”

As a waitress at one of the more expensive restaurants in the 16th arondissement, Séverine knew all about obsessive chefs.

Mélanie sighed. “Alright then. So, have I ever told you that my great-great-great something or other grandmother was the daughter of Antonin Careme?”

“The 18th century celebrity chef? That’s pretty cool. Also, kind of a diversion.”

“19th century, mostly, I think, but yes, it is cool.  And it’s relevant.”

“Hey, no wonder you’re such a great pastry chef.” Séverine toasted her with a spoonful of tomato ice cream, then grimaced and put the spoon down. “With one notable exception. This stuff is seriously odd, Mel.”

Mélanie smiled faintly. “Tomato used to be considered a sweet ingredient, you know. And if you caramelise it with brown sugar and balsamic–“

“And powdered mummies used to be considered a viable medicine. We have moved on, Mel, and a good thing too. And none of this explains why you are making dozens of tubs of weird ice cream in the middle of winter.”

Mélanie looked down at her hands. “He’s haunting me.”

Séverine frowned. “Who, Carème? Mel, he died, what, 200 years ago? You don’t have to compare yourself to him, surely? Hell, you don’t even have the same name!”

Mélanie shook her head. “No, Sev, I mean he is literally haunting me. He turns up in my apartment at midnight and he makes me make ice cream. By hand. On the balcony, in fact, because he says it is too warm in here. I think he thinks I’m one of his apprentices.”

Séverine was silent for a long moment. “Mel…”

“I know. I know it sounds ridiculous. But it’s true. Why do you think I keep dozing off when we go out to the movies?”

“I thought they were just bad movies.”

The joke fell flat. Séverine sighed. “Mel, I’m not saying you’re lying, OK? And I still don’t think you are crazy. But… a ghost who is obsessed with ice cream? Don’t you think that’s a little… strange?”

Mélanie glared. “No, Sev, I think it is totally normal that I am making parmesan ice cream at 2am under the tutelage of a ghost. Seriously, what do you think I am?”

“Sorry. It’s just… could someone be playing a trick on you? I’m pretty sure I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Mélanie sighed. “I’m not so sure I do, either. But Pépère Antonin certainly does, so until he stops, I think I’m stuck with him.”

“You don’t sound entirely unhappy about that.”

“Well, more sleep would be nice, but… I’m learning all sorts of things, Séverine! I mean, I agree with you about the tomato ice cream, but the avocado one was amazing. And the parmesan one was so interesting – did you know that parmesan used to be one of the most popular ice cream flavours? And I love what he does with herbs, and even the texture you get when you make ice cream by hand – it’s different, less smooth, because it freezes so much more slowly, but I like the denseness of it, and…”

Séverine was laughing. “Trust you to be all about the learning experience.”

Mélanie fought back a blush. “I want to be good at this, Séverine. There aren’t many women who are top pastry chefs, and if I want to get there, I need to grab every advantage I can. And this is a big one.”

“You don’t need to justify yourself to me, love.”

“I know. But there’s another thing, too. I feel as though… he needs me?”

Séverine stopped laughing. “For what, precisely?”

Mélanie was oblivious to her tone. “I’m not sure. As I said, he seems to think I’m his apprentice. It’s as though he doesn’t realise that he’s dead, not until it’s time to put the ice cream in the ice house. And when he remembers, he looks… can a ghost look haunted?”

Séverine shrugged. “Well, it can’t be easy to realise you’re dead, I suppose.”

“Well, no. But there’s more to it than that. I think there’s something he needs from me, specifically. I mean, I’m not the only pastry chef in the family. Not even the only female one – Tatie Marianne even has a shop in the Rue du Paix – but nobody else gets haunted.”

“Do you know that, for sure? I mean, you weren’t going to tell me. Would your aunt tell you?”

Mélanie sighed. “Probably not. But I’m the only one with a freezer full of ice cream. I’ve checked.”

“They could be throwing it out,” Séverine suggested.

“Throw out food?” Mélanie was appalled.

“Finding somewhere to donate it, then.”

“I don’t think so. You try finding somewhere to donate 48 litres of randomly flavoured ice cream in the middle of winter.” She glared at her lover. “Seriously. Try it. Please. Because if you can find someone who wants it, I wouldn’t mind having my freezer back.”

“But not your midnights?”

“Not… quite yet.”

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Carème’s ghost had arrived tonight with the bitterest chocolate Mélanie had ever tasted – she rather thought it was pure cacao mass, actually – a basket of fruit, and a big bunch of herbs. He had set them down on the kitchen table with a flourish.

“Something a little different for you tonight, boy. I’ve been choosing all the flavours for our crèmes glacées so far, but tonight it will be your turn. Let us see how much you’ve learned.”

Mélanie blinked, but moved obediently to the table to see what Carème had brought her. She sorted through the herbs first, dismissing the mint – too obvious – and the lavender – too summery. She paused at the rosemary. The astringent flavour should complement the bitter chocolate nicely, but she would need something sweet, too.   Perhaps honey? It would change the texture, of course, but still…

She lit her old-fashioned stove, wondering as she always did just what Carème saw when she cooked on it, and began to infuse the rosemary into the milk and cream mixture, with a spoonful of honey. Just for fun, and because she knew Carème would not be satisfied with anything too simple, she decided to candy the tiny rosemary flowers, too. It was unbelievably fiddly, but it made the kitchen smell amazing. Mélanie was a bit surprised that Séverine hadn’t ventured out to investigate. Then again, Séverine had not seemed thrilled with the idea of a ghost in their apartment…

Carème selected a rosemary flower and tasted it. Apparently, ghosts could still taste things. He closed his eyes a moment, then opened them again and stared at her.

“Who are you? Madame, I do not allow women in my kitchen!”

He made as if to shoo her out, and Mélanie was nearly startled enough to go. This was not in the script. “Monsieur Carème,” she began, but stopped. The phantom had gone pale, which she would not have thought possible.

“What manner of place is this?” He gestured out through the window at the lights and traffic below them. “Madame, will you tell me where I find myself?”

Mélanie opened her mouth to speak her usual script, then stopped. This was not like other nights. “Monsieur Carème… do you not recognise me?” she asked.

His eyes narrowed. “I do not.” He looked around again, evidently alarmed, but not wanting to show this in front of a woman.  “Should I do so?”

“I am your great-granddaughter. A few times removed. You have been visiting me for several months. You don’t remember?”

Carème frowned. “My great-granddaughter? Preposterous. Forgive me, Madame, but that is simply not possible. You are a woman grown.   And I am a chef.” He smiled, a little grimly. “The coal from my ovens will kill me before before I ever grow old. If I meet my eldest sister’s grandchild as an infant, I will be fortunate. No, Madame, you must be mistaken.”

Mélanie bit her lip. This would not be the first time she had informed Carème of his death, but he had never been so self-aware before.

“Monsieur, I am so sorry. It is true that you would not have lived to see your great-granddaughter, and… you didn’t.” She turned him toward the street again, and they both flinched as a motorbike growled by below.

“The year is 2016, Monsieur,” she said, gently. “You are a ghost. Look around you – nothing is familiar, because more than a hundred years have passed. Do you not remember?”

Carème turned from the balcony and looked around the apartment, less bewildered, and somehow more solid than he had been before. His eye lit on the candied rosemary flowers. “Rosemary, which is for remembrance. Yes. I do remember now.”

He sighed, then raised his voice. “Alright, Guillaume. You might as well show yourself. You’re the reason we’re both here, after all.”

“Well. That took you a while.”

The voice from the doorway turned both their heads. Antonin took one glance, then turned away, hastily, looking embarrassed. Mélanie moved toward her girlfriend in a rush. “Sev, what are you doing? For heaven’s sake, put on a robe or something. It’s freezing out here.”

Her girlfriend looked her up and down, an unfamiliar expression on her face. Contempt? Mélanie paused, uncertainly.

Séverine dismissed her with a look. “A girl, Antonin? Is this what you have been reduced to? And –” she gestured from herself to Mélanie, “an unnatural one? How the mighty have fallen.”

Hurt, Mélanie stepped back. “Sev? What’s going on?”

Séverine merely smirked at her. Mélanie turned to Antonin, surprising a look of distaste on his face. Right. Nineteenth century morals. It shouldn’t have hurt, but it did, the more so with Séverine standing there, apparently enjoying her distress.

“Yes, I’m gay,” she muttered. “Lots of people are. Get over it. Now, what is going on?”

“You are happy about it?” Antonin seemed confused.

Ah. Linguistic change. Even more fun. “I mean, yes, Séverine is my girlfriend. My lover. If you don’t like that, you can haunt someone else. I am not taking judgment from a ghost.”

“Yes, Antonin. I’m her lover. Isn’t that charming?” Séverine’s voice was still mocking, and… off, somehow. Mélanie frowned.

“Oh, for God’s sake, Guillaume, put some clothes on. This is a stupid way to have a conversation.” Antonin’s voice was resigned.

“Why should I?” Séverine pirouetted on her toes. “Don’t you like this body? Your great-great granddaughter’s girlfriend. Maybe I should keep her. Do you think that would be more natural than what these two naughty girls have been doing?”

Mélanie recoiled, but Séverine – or whoever was pretending to be Séverine – wasn’t done.

“And as for getting cold, well, it’s bit late to worry about that now, don’t you think? You didn’t worry about it when I was wearing my own body, after all. Perhaps you found it less to your liking than this one.” He sauntered towards Carème, ignoring Mélanie completely. “Or perhaps you found it too much to your liking. Like grandfather, like granddaughter?”

“Alright, that’s enough.” Mélanie’s voice shook with anger. “I don’t know who you are, or what you’ve done with my girlfriend, and I don’t know what your problem is with my great-grandfather, but you can stop the homophobic slurs right now. I will not have this bullshit in my apartment.”

Carème looked shocked at her language. Séverine just smirked. “Oh, darling, don’t you love me any more?”

She narrowed her eyes at her. “I don’t know who you are, but you are not my Séverine.”

“How do you know? Perhaps I’ve felt like this all along. Perhaps I never loved you at all. I mean, really, who could?”

Mélanie huffed out a breath, feeling as though she had been punched.

“Enough.” Carème pushed forward until he was eye to eye with Séverine. Mélanie noticed that he took care not to look down. “You will stop tormenting my great-grand-daughter, whose… affairs… are none of our business, and you will state your terms. And then you will leave this poor woman alone. She has nothing to do with your grudge against me.”

Séverine smiled, nastily. “You truly expect me to do what you tell me now?”

Carème shrugged. “You died my apprentice. I suspect I have more authority over you, even now, than you would like to admit.”

Séverine was silent.

He turned to Mélanie. “I am so sorry, my dear. The spirit currently possessing your… friend… is my old apprentice, Guillaume Benoit. He died in an accident, for which I was partially responsible.”

Partially responsible?” Séverine shook her head, and turned to Mélanie. “He sent me into the ice house to turn and stir the crème glacée. You must know by now how obsessed he is by the proper texture of it. And then the door stuck, and I couldn’t get out. And he never came to look for me. I died in there, thanks to your dear Pépère. Cold and dark and alone and all he cared about was that his precious cold kitchen was contaminated.”

Mélanie gasped in shock, but Carème sighed.

“Guillaume, you know that isn’t true.”

“Isn’t it?” Guillaume-Séverine turned on him. “Who sent me to the ice house? Who didn’t even notice that I hadn’t come back, because he had a banquet to serve? It took me hours to die, you know,” he confided to Mélanie. “And nobody came. I called, and called, but nobody heard. And when the great Carème did come, it wasn’t to rescue me. Oh no. It was ‘get that body out and scrub the place from top to bottom’. As if I’d died just to inconvenience him.”

Antonin’s face was set. “You were long past reviving by the time I arrived, Guillaume. Yes, I bear the responsibility for your death, and yes, I deeply regretted my failing, but it was an accident. I couldn’t do anything for you, other than make sure your family was cared for.  After what happened to you, I made sure no ice house in any great house I worked in locked from the outside, and I required all my chefs and apprentices to check in with a footman before going to the ice house, so that nobody could be locked in and forgotten again. I did everything I could to make sure that your accident was the last in my kitchens.”

“Except cease the practice of churning ice cream in the ice house.”

Antonin was silent. Guillaume-Séverine stalked closer. “Yes, your ice cream had to be perfect, didn’t it? No matter who suffered for it. No matter that I died for it.”

Antonin’s ghost pursed his lips, but said nothing. With a disgusted noise, Guillaume-Séverine turned away from him, and trapped Mélanie with his-her gaze.

His smile on Séverine’s face was cruel, and Mélanie stepped back a pace. “Guess who is going to suffer now, little great-grand-daughter of the great chef?”

Mélanie tore her eyes away from the creature who was not her girlfriend, and looked at Antonin for help. He merely looked grim. Crossing her arms over her chest to try to contain the horror that had been running through her since the ghost told its story, Mélanie forced herself to meet its gaze again.

“What have you done to Séverine?”

The ghost smiled again. “Oh, not much. Yet. She’s still in here. Would you like to speak with her?” The face shifted, and suddenly Séverine’s terrified gaze met hers. “Mel? Oh my God, you should not tell me ghost stories before bedtime, I had the most horrible dream… Mel? Why are you looking at me like that? Mel, what’s going on?”

Mélanie flung herself at Séverine, hugging her tightly. Séverine hugged her back, automatically, her eyes searching the room. “Sev, I’m so sorry, I had no idea, please be OK…”

Sev’s eyes changed, and the embrace became lascivious. Mel shoved her away, hard, anger gaining ascendence over fear.

“Careful, now,” the ghost said, picking Séverine up from the chair into which she had fallen. “You wouldn’t want dear Séverine to get hurt, now, would you?”

“Get out of her.”

“Oh no. I quite like it here. I might even stay…”

Mélanie recoiled. Antonin spoke from behind her. “He can’t stay. Not permanently.”

She turned on him. “And you! Did you know this would happen? How dare you hurt Séverine like this?”

Antonin looked pained. “I did not know. Until you gave me the rosemary, I did not remember anything before this evening. I did not even realise that you were a woman – well, obviously. Women cannot be chefs. Though I suppose that might explain…”

Mélanie saw red. “Seriously? You haunt me for months, you rob me of sleep and make me stand out on a freezing balcony to make ice cream in the snow, you get my girlfriend possessed by an evil ghost and now you pull this sexist, gender-essentialist, homophobic crap…”

Antonin was now the one backed into a corner, avoiding her pointing finger. From behind Mel came a slow clap.

“Oh, very nice. I do take offense at ‘evil ghost’, but the rest was just lovely.”

Mélanie clenched her teeth. “Get. Out. Of. My. Girlfriend.”

Guillaume-in-Séverine shrugged. “But I’m having so much fun. Such a lovely girl. Such a pity…”

Mélanie drew in a deep breath. She didn’t even want to know what that was supposed to mean.

“Alright. You are both ghosts. If everyone became a ghost when they died then there would be ghosts everywhere and everyone would be talking about them. I presume, therefore, that you must be here for a reason.   And that if I can work out the reason and fix whatever it is that brings you here, you will both go away. Am I correct?”

Séverine’s face pouted. “Trust a Carème to spoil my fun. Not one of you has a sense of humour, did you know that? A hundred and fifty years, and you are all the same. Grumpy, humourless obsessives, the lot of you.”

”A hundred and fifty years?”

“Give or take a few. I will have my revenge, you see. One chef in every generation to meet my terms, or pay my penalty.” Séverine’s face grinned horribly. “So far, it’s been all penalties. Benoit seven, Carème, nil. Such a pity, don’t you think? Poor little Séverine. Should have known better than to fall in love with a Carème…”

Mélanie closed her eyes, refusing to take the bait. Or, she realised suddenly, perhaps the bait was already taken? But she could see no other way forward but to ask the question. She drew in a long breath.

“What are your terms, then?”

Another horrible smile from the ghost wearing Séverine’s expressions. Mélanie forced herself not to flinch. “Why, you must create an ice cream for me, of course.”

Mélanie’s heart leapt, then sank. It couldn’t possibly be that easy. She said so.

“Naturally not. This ice cream will be a very special one. It must be as cold as death, and as hot as anger; as bitter as poison, and as sweet as revenge; as soft as snow and as hard as bone. You must find all the ingredients yourself, and make the ice cream alone, in one night, in the place I died, with myself and Antonin as your only witness. Oh, and I will wear this body while you make it, and it seems to be rather susceptible to the cold, so you’ll probably want to be quick. If little Séverine dies before I taste the ice cream, I’m afraid you lose. And I imagine you’d find that a little distracting, in any case. And explaining yourself to the police would be so tiresome, don’t you think?”

Mélanie sat down, hard. Certain family stories were coming back to her. The distant cousin who had committed suicide. A great-uncle who had been accused of murdering his wife, and had moved to Australia… She swallowed. “What if I say no? I’m not risking Séverine’s life just so that you can get your revenge on my great-grandfather.”

Guillaume shrugged Séverine’s shoulders. “If you say no, then you say no.   I cannot force you to do anything. Of course, that does mean you will be seeing a lot more of me.” He looked down at Séverine’s hand, wriggling the fingers thoughtfully, then flexed her biceps. “Quite a nice body, really. Small, but strong. Yes, I could enjoy spending my nights here. Speaking of which,” he gestured out the window. “Dawn is coming. I’ll see you tomorrow evening. Do consider your options carefully, my dear. If I don’t have my ice cream by dawn on February 14th, I win by default.”

Séverine’s face went blank, and she crumpled to the floor. Mélanie dropped to her knees beside her and caught her hands in hers, trying to rub warmth into them. Séverine’s eyes opened again, bewildered, and Mélanie leaned down to help her sit up. “I’m so sorry, love,” she whispered.

Behind them, Antonin sighed. “I am sorry too, for what little it is worth. I would help you if I could.”

Mélanie ignored him, focusing on steadying Séverine as she got to her feet. By the time they were standing, Antonin was gone.

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“Absolutely not. I will not permit you to forfeit.” Séverine had showered until there was no more hot water, and had only emerged from the icy stream after much coaxing. She hugged herself, looking smaller than Mélanie had ever seen her.

“Sev, I don’t know if I can make ice cream like that. And even if I do, you could die. I’m not sure if it’s even possible to fully freeze ice cream in an amount of time that wouldn’t have you dead from hypothermia. The ice creams I’ve made with Antonin have all taken two nights to finish. I couldn’t live with myself if you died because of me.”

“I’d rather be dead than spend my life with that… spirit… sitting in my head, using my body.” She shuddered again. “God, I feel unclean. I was there, you know. I could feel everything he was thinking. Horrible. Revolting man. I need another shower…” She stood, and Mélanie jumped up quickly, pushing her back down into her chair.

“You can have another shower once the tank refills. I’m not going to have you dying of hypothermia in our flat.”

“I’m sorry.” Séverine looked as though she was about to cry. “But he was in my body Mel. And the way he thinks about us… There is not enough soap in the world.”

Mélanie hugged her tightly. “I’m so sorry. So very sorry. I wish you’d never met me. You’d be safe then.” She sat back suddenly. “Wait, do you think if we broke up…?”

“I am not breaking up with you for the sake of a ghost. Besides, he might decide to stay anyway. He did say he would have his revenge once per generation – what makes you think he would let go now that he has started?”

“True.” Mélanie began to pace. “What about an exorcism? Do priests still do that?”

Séverine frowned. “It’s been over a hundred years. Surely someone would have tried that already?”

“If everyone else thought that, nobody would have ever tried. You just don’t like churches.”

Séverine made a face.  “I don’t like Guillaume more.”

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But the priest from the Église Sainte Rosalie shook his head. “Oh, I believe you,” he hastened to assure them. “And I would help if I could. But this sort of ghost can only be vanquished on his own terms.”

The priest was younger than Mélanie had expected, with a stocky, muscular build – she would have guessed him a laborer before she thought him a priest – but there was an authority about him that somehow silenced argument.

“Father, I’m sure you mean that kindly, but I’m not sure I can vanquish the ghost on his own terms. What he is asking… it’s not impossible, perhaps, though I don’t know how to do it yet, but to freeze the ice cream before we die of exposure – before Séverine dies of exposure – it can’t be done.”

The priest took her hand in his, then reached out his other hand to Séverine. She gave it, reluctantly, and he joined their hands together, his own covering theirs as if in blessing. “’Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. Love is strong as death.’”

He looked from Mélanie to Séverine and back again, his eyes like blue flames, then released them. “Remember this: you have something that the ghost does not have – that neither ghost has, in fact. And that is something that he cannot take from you, nor can he know how strong it makes you. And that is why you will ultimately defeat him.”

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This was all very well, but Mélanie still needed to figure out how to make the ice cream. Antonin had not shown his face since Guillaume had set his ultimatum, but Guillaume had been an all-too frequent visitor. After the third night, Séverine had taken a leave of absence from her job, and picked up a prescription for sleeping pills. “Better living through chemistry,” she joked, rather grimly. She refused to discuss her dreams.

So Mélanie focused on ice cream.

Right now, she was experimenting with bitter almond praline. Seville oranges hadn’t worked – their flavour was good, but they tended to make the whole custard bitter, and grapefruit was worse. A praline, though, would give her little flecks of bitterness without changing the whole dessert, and would also count as something hard – or crunchy, at least – and then if she could get her praline just to the edge of burning, that would be another layer of bitterness… She swirled the frying pan gently, watching the unmelted sugar skim in a slow, graceful circle over the layer of liquid caramel beneath.

“I need a break from this.” Séverine came in from the next room, a large bag over her shoulder. “I’m going to my aunt’s place for the weekend. Maybe if I can get far enough away, he won’t be able to find me.”

Séverine’s aunt lived in England, somewhere up in the north. Mélanie’s heart sank. She switched off the burner under the caramel (setting the apartment on fire was not going to help matters), and crossed the kitchen to take Séverine’s hands in hers. “I’ve heard some spirits can’t cross running water,” she replied, at last.

“That’s what I’ve heard, too.” Sév’ had always been tiny, but in the last few days, she seemed to have shrunk further, her face increasingly waif-like.   Mélanie swallowed against yet another surge of guilt.  And what sort of a chef was she, that she couldn’t even keep her girlfriend fed…?

“When are you leaving?”

“Now, pretty much. I want to be in Birmingham by tonight.”

Mel nodded, trying to be stoic. “Travel safely, then,” she said.

Séverine stepped forward for a hug, and Mélanie clung to her, holding her as tightly as she could for a long moment. She forced herself to let go, and attempted a smile. “Call me when you get there, won’t you? I’ll miss you, Sev.”

Sev nodded. “I’ll miss you, too.” She kissed her, quick, and a little desperate, and was gone.

Mélanie went back to her caramel, keeping her face carefully averted, so that no tears would contaminate it.

It burned anyway.

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Two days later, Sev was back, her face haggard. Guillaume, it appeared, had no difficulties whatsoever in crossing water, and her aunt had started asking concerned questions about the medication she was taking.

Mélanie felt guiltily glad to see her. “Here, try this.”

Sev took the spoon, and set down her travel bag, smiling a little crookedly. “We need to find some better ways for you to express your feelings,” she said.

Mélanie flushed. “I’m sorry. It’s just – there’s nothing else I can do, and this is so awful.”

Sev tasted it. “It’s good, but…”

Mélanie sighed. “I know. I still haven’t figured out the heat part. I’m not putting chilli in ice cream, and I don’t know whether smoke would count. I’d like to put a hot caramel sauce in the centre, but I don’t think I can get the ice cream cold enough that it wouldn’t melt. Something tells me that Guillaume isn’t going to let me use liquid nitrogen.”

“He’d probably just try to dip me in it,” Séverine said, turning away.

Mélanie bit her lip. “Sev, how bad is it?”

But her girlfriend just shook her head. “I need to unpack.”

pic6

Mélanie took the custard off the heat and tasted it. It was perfect – the apricots and rosemary were evocative of a summer long gone, and the warmth that would never more be part of Guillaume’s existence. Cutting through the sweet warmth was the dark crunch of the bitter almond praline, its hard, salty bitterness a reminder that summer must end. On the bench beside her, chocolate was melting in just-boiled cream for a ganache that would form the centre to the shaped ice cream. The heated cream was flavoured with Sichuan pepper and laced with grappa, and she hoped that this would provide a burning effect without clashing too violently with the other flavours. Guillaume had not actually said that the ice cream needed to taste good, but some things did not need to be stated aloud.

She poured the custard through a fine mesh sieve out onto a baking tray lined with clingwrap, spreading it evenly with a spatula so that it would cool more quickly, and folding more clingwrap over the top to prevent it forming a skin. She scraped the spatula down with a tasting spoon, and offered it to Séverine, who was standing on the other side of the island bench, watching her work. Her girlfriend’s silence ached deep inside her, but Mélanie pushed the pain aside. The sooner she finished, the sooner Séverine would be free. She could not afford to think of the rest.

“It’s good,” Séverine said, quietly. “You have a real gift for this, Mel. If I have to…” She shook her head sharply, and turned away to drop the spoon into the sink. “Mel, promise me that you’ll keep doing this, no matter what. Even if I’m not… here anymore … promise me that you won’t lose this too.”

“Oh God.” Mel stopped stirring the ganache (setting aside a worried thought about how fast it might set) and came to her, putting her arms around Sev’s waist from behind and resting her cheek on her head. Sev did not relax into the embrace. “Love. I am so sorry. If I’d known…”

Sev laughed, as bitter as the praline. “You would have done what? Not invited me to move in? Not accepted your great-grandfather’s apprenticeship? Not kissed me in the library that first time?”

Mel shrugged. “I don’t know. Not involved you, I suppose.”

“How, exactly? I crossed an ocean, and Guillaume still found me. I think the damage was done when you fell in love with me. Or when I fell in love with you.”

The ache inside became a hollowness. “Should I be regretting that, then?” she asked.

Sev didn’t pull away, but she didn’t turn her head, either. “I don’t know,” she said.

Everything went black.

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Mélanie opened her eyes and she was somewhere else. Somewhere dark, and cold, that smelled of damp and ice, and faintly of sugar.   The darkness was so complete it almost had a texture. She shivered, her heart beginning to beat faster, with fear, and perhaps also to help keep her warm. The hand holding hers slid away, and she clutched after it instinctively, even knowing it was not truly Séverine.

Mel blinked again at a sudden flare of light. The dark room began to show shadows and corners, and she realised that someone was moving around the space, lighting candles. Guillaume-Séverine, she thought. She sat up, quickly. She could see, now, that the room was large and cave-like, with a dirt floor. There were no windows, and the walls were lined with huge cubes of ice, stacked on top of each other and packed together with straw. They gleamed with reflected candlelight. In the centre of the room was a long workbench, with her ingredients and her custard, incongruous in its clingwrap, sitting at the centre. Next to it was the old sorbetière and its bucket, and the bowl of cream and chocolate, cooling rapidly to solidity.

Mel jumped to her feet in alarm. If the cream cooled too fast for the chocolate to melt, it would not emulsify, and she had no extra cream or milk to fix it with. She began whisking.

“You’d better work quickly.”

The voice behind her was Séverine’s, but the words were not. Mélanie turned, bracing herself for what she would see.

Sev stood barefoot on the other side of the bench, shivering slightly with the cold. She was still wearing flannel pyjamas. Antonin was at her side, lips pressed tightly together. And behind them, on the floor, was someone else.

Mélanie gasped, and started forward, forgetting everything else. The man had been young, when he died; perhaps not even twenty. That he was dead was quite certain – Mélanie had never seen a corpse before but nobody alive was that bluish shade of pale. He had cast off most of his clothing, and then curled up in the corner of the room, nearest the door.

Oh God, he was actually dead, wasn’t he? Or was he? Did she have to check? Neither Guillaume nor Antonin was moving, and if he wasn’t dead and he died because she hadn’t done anything… She didn’t want to touch him, but she bent down anyway, reaching out uncertainly.

Her hand went through him, and she jerked back, appalled. Had he rotted away? No, her hands were clean, and dry, too… She wiped them on her thighs anyway, convulsively.

“You can’t touch him,” Séverine’s voice told her, as cold as the corpse before her.

Mel froze. She didn’t much like having Guillaume behind her, but she wasn’t too happy about turning her back on the uncanny corpse, either. Which was, she realised belatedly, probably also Guillaume. She stood.

“There’s nothing you can do for him now. And he can’t hurt you. Well, not in that form. I was a handsome boy, was I not? Though I don’t imagine you would appreciate that.”

Mélanie was getting a little tired of the endless insinuations. It did not, however, seem productive to ask Guillaume why he was so obsessed with her sex life. “I’m sorry for your loss,” she said, finally, a little curtly.

Behind her, Sev snorted. “Charming. Now, are you going to stand there, staring at my long-dead corpse, or are you going to make me that ice cream? Your girlfriend is getting cold, you know.”

The implication was clear. Mélanie swallowed and forced herself to turn away from the body. There was, certainly, nothing she could do for the boy who was so long dead.

She walked back to the bench. There was a remarkable lack of useful equipment on it. “How long do I have?” she asked, a little grimly.

“Oh, three or four hours, give or take,” came the reply. “But the question you should be asking is how long Mlle Séverine has. She’s barefoot, you know. The cold is going to get her quite quickly, if you don’t move fast.”

Thank heavens for flannel pyjamas at least. Mélanie peered into the bucket. It was, of course, empty of ice. No time to waste. She took the largest knife from the bench and began scraping ice hastily off the nearest cube, directly into it. There was no salt or saltpetre – Guillaume had, evidently, felt no need to be helpful in this respect – but the temperature of the room was cool enough to keep the ice from melting too fast. She opened the clingwrap and poured the custard into the sorbetière, then affixed the lid and began turning it rapidly in its outer bath of ice.

This, she could do without thinking. The custard was still liquid enough to slosh audibly as she turned it – she would not need to open the sorbetière to scrape and stir it for at least an hour.

The problem was going to be the ganache centre. She still wasn’t sure that it would meet Guillaume’s requirements, and, more problematically still, she no longer had the mould she had been planning to use to shape the ice cream. If she had a piping bag or a syringe, she could scoop the ice cream into balls, and then pipe the ganache into the centre, but there was nothing like that here. If this was the ice house, the utensils and other ingredients were probably all in the main kitchen, to which she didn’t have access. She turned the sorbetière vigorously, thinking fast.

Nothing came to mind. Absolutely nothing. And while she was failing to think of an answer, and Pépère Antonin was looking grave rather than helping, Guillaume was smirking all over Séverine’s face, and Séverine’s feet were turning white with cold.

How long did it take for someone to get frostbite, anyway? Mélanie was warm enough – turning the sorbetière was hard work, and also, she was furious.

She put the sorbetière down on the bench.

“G-giving up already?” Guillaume sneered at her. She ignored the sneer. Séverine’s lips, she noted, were going bluish, and she was shivering. Surely nobody could get hypothermia so fast?

Then again, if realism applied, she would not be in an ice house in what she rather suspected was the early 19th century, making ice cream for a ghost.

Mélanie stalked over to Guillaume, and shook him by the shoulders. “Let go of her,” she said, low and angry. “Give up this stupid feud, and let my girlfriend go.”

Guillaume laughed at her. “I d-don’t think so. And you’d b-better stop haranguing me if you want your little friend to live. That ice cr-cr-cream of yours is going to solidify if you don’t g-get b-back to it soon.”

“There are more important things in life than ice cream.”

She could feel the chill in Séverine’s shoulders even through the flannel of her pyjamas, and she slid her arms around her reflexively, rubbing her back.

Guillaume put Séverine’s arms around her. “D-d-darling. I d-d-didn’t know you c-cared.” His hands were cold and crude, groping her through her jeans.

Melanie gritted her teeth, and refused to react. Guillaume might be disgusting, but Séverine needed warmth to survive. She drew her lover closer, until their bodies were pressed fully together. She had been warm enough herself a minute ago, but now that she was still, she was chilling rapidly. If it was truly three or four hours until dawn, they could not possibly survive like this.

So be it.

She drew back a little, to stare into Guillaume’s mocking eyes. Could Séverine still hear her? “Séverine,” she said, softly, as if Guillaume might not hear if she spoke quietly enough. “I don’t regret it. I regret nothing. I could never regret loving you.”

And she kissed Séverine – not Guillaume, but Séverine – full on the mouth.

There was a moment of horrible, wrenching wrongness. Of nausea and cold so fierce that it burned like a brand, and of Séverine’s body twisting inhumanly against her, so that she almost let go.

And then there was just cold, and candle light and the sound of someone turning the sorbetière in its bucket behind her, and Séverine in her arms again and looking out of her own eyes. And shivering, because it was still absolutely, bitterly cold in there.

Mélanie turned them both so that she could look over Séverine’s shoulder to see what was going on.

Uncle Antonin was scraping at the custard in the sorbetière, and avoiding her eyes. Mélanie had no idea what that meant.

“Is the curse broken, then?” she wondered aloud. Surely not, because if it were, wouldn’t they be back at home?

There was a long silence. Uncle Antonin continued to work on the ice cream.

And then there was a rustling from behind them, as the corpse of Guillaume Boulanger sat up.

Mélanie shrieked, involuntarily, and Guillaume smirked. His expression was even more unpleasant on the face of a dead man than it had been on Sevérine’s.

“I haven’t decided yet,” he said.

Séverine pushed in front of Mélanie to glare at him. “Decide now, then. Because this has gone on quite long enough. I have done nothing to deserve what you have done to me, and neither has Mélanie. Nor have any of the others you have possessed or killed or driven mad over the years. This is between you and M. Cârème. Leave us out of it.”

She turned to Mélanie. “I’m sorry, love, but he cannot be allowed to continue in this way. And it is time and more than time that your great-grandfather takes responsibility for his own actions.”

Mélanie opened her mouth and shut it again, trying to formulate a response. Guillaume raised a sardonic eyebrow, and if it wasn’t the outside of enough that a corpse could raise a single eyebrow when Mélanie could not, she didn’t know what was.

Behind them, Antonin spoke. “Mlle Séverine is quite correct.”

He put down the sorbetière, and came to stand between the women and Guillaume.

“I am the one at fault. I should not have sent you to the ice house alone, and I should have sent someone to look for you when you did not return. I am culpable for your death, and I am sorry for it.”

Guillaume looked unimpressed. “And I suppose that makes it all better, then. I died, and you are sorry, and now everything is fine.”

Carème bowed his head. “You died, and I beg your forgiveness, and that you will stop torturing my relatives and their loved ones in revenge. If anyone is to be punished, it should be me.”

There was a long, cold silence.

“Kneel.” Guillaume’s voice was surprisingly deep. “If you are going to beg my forgiveness, you should at least kneel. Kneel right here, on the hard, cold ground where I died.”

Carème hesitated, then knelt. “Forgive me. I valued my work over your life, and I was wrong.”

The silence grew colder. At last, the corpse spoke.

“No. I do not forgive you. A single apology after 150 years? No, that is not enough for forgiveness. As for your relatives…” He looked at Mélanie then shook his head again. “Bring me the ice cream, Mademoiselle.”

Mélanie raised her brows, but did so. Could a dead man even eat? It seemed he could.

“Not bad. You have both bitter and sweet, both hard and soft. And you have cold, of course. But where is the burn of hatred? Of revenge? No, my little would-be chef. You have failed. And for that–“

“Mélanie has not failed.” Séverine stepped forward. “She has not failed, and you lie when you say she has. Taste the ice cream again.”

Guillaume shook his head, but did so. “There is no heat here.”

“But there is burning nonetheless. You are sitting in a cold ice house in February, eating ice cream. Tell me that the cold doesn’t burn you with every bite that you swallow. Tell me that your skin didn’t burn with the cold all those years ago, before your nerves became too damaged to feel anything, or that you didn’t feel the burning heat of summer before you threw off your clothes at the end.” Sévérine shuddered in memory. “I have felt every moment of your death in my dreams, night after night as you haunted me. I felt the approach of my own death not so many minutes ago. Do not pretend that the cold cannot burn.”

Antonin spoke before Guillaume could reply.

“Let them be, Guillaume. Mélanie has met your challenge – and even if she has not, you have tormented both her and Sévérine enough, I think.   Let this be between you and me.”

Guillaume was silent for a long moment. “I do not forgive you. You deserve every ounce of anguish that I have inflicted on you, and more. But the girls can go. I will accept that they have met my conditions. And this whole evening is getting boring.” He raised a hand, as if in dismissal, and Mélanie found her voice.

“Wait.”

Guillaume raised an eyebrow. “I thought you wanted to go home. You are skating on thin ice, my dear, and I do mean that rather literally.”

Mélanie glanced quickly down. Still dirt, not ice. Apparently, being a ghost didn’t mean one necessarily understood the meaning of the word literally. “I do. But what about my nephew?”

Guillaume frowned. “What nephew?”

“My nephew, or my niece, or my cousin – whoever would be next in this horrible chain of revenges of yours. Where does it stop? Aren’t you getting tired of haunting us?”

“It’s not like I have anything better to do with my afterlife.”

“Actually, you do.”

A man suddenly stood among them. His eyes were very blue and he had the build of a laborer. He held out his hand to Guillaume. “You can move on, Guillaume. You can leave this world whenever you choose.”

Guillaume looked wistful for a moment, then he shook his head, as if to clear it. “And what of Carème?”

“Ah. For Antonin, it is less simple. His death – his afterlife – is tied to yours. He may not leave this earth until you choose to forgive him. But as long as he is bound here, so are you.”

Guillaume began to smile. “Well. It seems I have a choice after all.”

He stood. The corpse did not. Ignoring the girls completely, he advanced on the still-kneeling Antonin until he stood directly over him. “Antonin Carème, I release your family from this curse. They may live and prosper and even make ice cream free from any vengeance of mine, now and for as long as their line continues.”

Guillaume paused, and looked down at his former master. “But as for you, Carème…” He smiled, unpleasantly. “You can walk the Earth until the sun grows cold. You will have no forgiveness from me.”

And he was gone.

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The apartment felt ridiculously bright and warm, after the ice house. The dishwasher was still humming, a group of students was talking loudly as they passed below the balcony, and everything was noisy and familiar and normal. Mélanie sat Sévérine on the sofa and ran to fill a basin with lukewarm water to defrost her poor, white feet. She didn’t even notice that she had burst into tears until Sévérine laid a hand against her cheek.

“Oh God, Sevvie, I’m so sorry.”

It’s hard to hug someone across a basin of water, but Séverine made a pretty good job of it. “It’s alright, love. We’re alright.”

“Antonin, though…”

Sévérine was quiet for a long time. “I don’t know. I – it’s not that I don’t care, but he wanted us to be safe. He wanted to make amends. And he was the one Guillaume was truly after.”

Mélanie sighed. “I still feel badly for him.”

“I know.” Séverine smiled at her, a little sadly. “Come sit next to me and help me get warm.”

“Now there’s an invitation.” She scrambled up onto the sofa, and curled up with her legs in Sévérine’s lap. “Are you OK, though? Really?”

“I think so. You?”

“Yes. Mostly. Except that I never want to make ice cream again. Or eat it, probably. It could be much worse.”

“It could.”

Mélanie’s voice grew quieter. “Are we OK?”

Sévérine put an arm around her, drawing her head down to lean against her shoulder. “I don’t regret it either. Falling in love with you. Mad ghosts and all. We’re OK. I love you.”

Mélanie wriggled around on the sofa so that she could lean her head against Sevvie’s shoulder. “I love you, too.”

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The parish priest at Sainte Rosalie’s is popular with his congregation. His manner is kind, his sermons are short, and he brings the most exceptional cakes to share with the congregation after the 10am Mass.

Nobody has ever asked him where he gets his cakes. Perhaps he makes them himself, on his afternoon off.

Perhaps not.

If you walk past the Église de Sainte Rosalie late on a winter’s night, when the lights are out and the candles extinguished, you might hear voices coming from inside the church. If you open the door, you might, perhaps, see two men talking in the shadows. One wears a priest’s cassock, the other the garb of a professional chef. But when you turn on the lights, you will find that you were mistaken. The church is quite empty, and you are alone.

Even ghosts get lonely sometimes.

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The last train from Glacière station leaves at 1:02 am.

Do not linger in the station after it departs. Even at the height of summer, Glacière station gets cold at night.

Very cold, and very angry.

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station

Ice wells and ice cream

Glacière is a station in the 13th arondissement, on the left bank of the Seine.  It’s an overground station that owes its name to an underground river, the Bièvre – in the days before refrigeration, ice was collected from the ponds of the Bièvre in this region and stored in wells for the summer.  The word glacière is translated variously as freezer, ice box or ice house.  (The word glacier means ice cream maker or ice cream shop, and is clearly a closely related word.)

Marie-Antoine (‘Antonin’) Carème (1784 – 1833) is often described as France’s first celebrity chef.  He cooked for Talleyrand, Napoleon, the Tsar of Russia, England’s Prince Regent, and many other important names of his day.  He specialised in banquets and elaborate desserts, and his cookbooks contain detailed drawings of gothic castles and follies constructed out of pastry, biscuits and spun sugar and filled with mousses, creams and even ice creams.  He also invented the chef’s uniform that is still in use today, and also the four basic sauces used in French cooking.  His recipe for béchamel sauce is pretty much exactly the recipe you will find in modern cookbooks.  He died young, aged only 49, from a disease of the lungs caused by long years of working in poorly-ventilated kitchens filled with coal smoke.  This was pretty common for chefs of his era.

While Carème was certainly a highly-driven perfectionist, and had no time for women in the kitchen, he did not, as far as I know, he ever leave anyone to freeze in an ice house, so I apologise to his ghost, if it is still hanging around, for this slander. In fact, while one would certainly need to keep custard well chilled when turning it into ice cream, I have not actually seen anyone recommending churning it in an ice-house.

That said, the rest of the technique used for making ice cream really is correct.  I know this because I spent way too much time researching how ice cream was made in the 18th and 19th century by people in general and by Antonin Carème in particular, and eventually tracked down a microfiche copy of several of his cookbooks in my local University library.  You can read an English translation of his crème glacée recipe below.  So I can be pretty confident that the method he teaches Mélanie in this story is the method he would have used – making a custard, and then turning it in a ‘sorbetière’ container in a bucket of ice while it chills, and turning it, and turning it again, stopping occasionally to scrape it out, before finally stirring in a plate of whipped cream to lighten it near the end.  Is this a good method for making ice cream?  Well, it’s certainly labour intensive, since one is effectively doing manually what an ice-cream machine would do for you automatically. I suspect, from what little I know of food chemistry and ice cream recipes, that the texture would be a little less smooth and a little more dense than that of the ice creams one buys today, and the flavour would probably be sweeter.  In general, ice-cream wants to be frozen very fast in order to keep the sugar crystals small and keep the texture finer, and Carème simply did not have the technology to do this.  Instead, he used two other tricks – a custard base (protein from the eggs help control ice crystal growth) and a higher level of sugar than modern ice creams (making the ice cream softer).  You can read more about ice cream chemistry here.

Mélanie almost certainly knows all of this – good patisserie classes teach you a bit about the chemistry of the food you are making – but one can never have too many techniques or flavour combinations in one’s repertoire.  And who knows?  There probably is a market for ice cream made in the manner of Carème.  I know I’d try it…

The illustrations in this story are taken from Carème’s cookbooks, La Pâtissier Pittoresque and L’Art de la cuisine française au dix-neuvième siècle. They are his own drawings.

I would like to thank Elise McLellan for her excellent beta-reading work on this story.

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