Letters to Lelia – Excerpt


“Do you have a moment to go over the menu?” Lily asked sister Jesse, who had just arrived in the kitchen and was checking the daily prep schedule.

“Sure. Go ahead,” sister Jesse replied, her eyes still glued to the list.

“Are we still going to have the cream puffs?” Lily asked.

“I was planning on that, yes,” sister Jesse confirmed.

“We’re not going to have a problem with the chocolate syrup?”

“We’re going to use serving tongues and they will be topped with ice cream, in bowls.”

“How are we going to keep the ice cream from melting?” Lily asked, worried.

“Really?” sister Jesse commented. Lily went on.

“I thought it was going to be finger foods only.”

“You can’t make a five course meal out of finger foods!” sister Jesse protested, her culinary sensibility offended. “I thought you wanted me to cook!”

“Of course,” Lily flashed a pleasant smile to appease her. “Did you remember to make the pear and red wine glazed tart? It’s Seth’s favorite.”

“Yes, together with the rhubarb ice cream for Jimmy, the red snapper and fennel for sister Joseph and the chamomile and lemon glazed mini pound cakes for Lelia. You already told me,” sister Jesse confirmed.

“No crèpes Susette?” Lily suggested sweetly. “Without the flambé?”

“That is always a possibility,” sister Jesse said.

“Are we going to have enough room for the spread? How many tables do we have planned?” Lily continued.

“Eighty or ninety should be plenty.”

“For five hundred guests?” Lily fretted.

“Ninety it is.”

“What is on the menu?” Lily asked.

“Pork rillettes, double baked cheese soufflee, porcini mushroom tartlets, roasted chicken with herbs, truffle infused soup, blackberry custards, lapin à la royale,” sister Jesse started enumerating, more and more pleased.

“This is so fancy! I thought we’re going to stick to someting simple, you know? Why do we have to prepare dishes that are so elaborate?” Lily asked, worried.

“Where you saving those for a special occasion?”

“Well, as long as there is nothing that needs to come to the table in flames,” Lily conceded.

“I think I’m a good enough cook not to set myself on fire!” sister Jesse protested, offended.

“I beg you, sister! I can’t have another argument with the wisps, I’ll go mad!”

“Great! There go the baked Alaskas!” sister Jesse thought, bitterly scratching the item off the list.

“Fortunately the Second Circle has no opinions on foods, given they don’t eat,” Lily breathed a sigh of relief, “as long as nothing poses a safety concern.”

“Maybe I should get rid of the Brazilian steaks then,” sister Jesse joked.

“Please? For me?” Lily smiled the most persuasive smile she could muster.

“We’re two coordination meetings away from drinking out of sippy cups. Are you sure you don’t want me to puree the food? You know, for safety?” sister Jesse asked.

“What other items do you have? Let me see the list, I’ll pick them out,” Lily made an attempt to reach for the precious menu.

“Not on your life!” sister Jesse safeguarded it, moving a foot away from Lily. “Next?” she asked.

“Speaking of implements, do we really need stemware?”

“You want to drink champagne out of tin cups?”

“Does it matter what we drink out of?” Lily tried to suggest. “Glass breaks,” she pointed out.

“Yes, it does!” sister Jesse started to get irritated.

“Never mind, then,” Lily moved on. “How about the cookie displays? Do we really have to have a cookie waterfall?”

“Stay away from those cookie displays, God help you!” sister Roberta pounced on the objection like a tiger.

“If we can have the cookie displays, why can’t we have a chocolate fountain? The kids love it!” sister Jesse noticed how the terms of the negotiation had changed.

“Is it scolding hot?” Lily tried to argue.

“Not if you know what you’re doing,” sister Jesse retorted. “It won’t take a lot of space, unlike that useless drapery.”

Lily gave into the request, just to move on to the next item on her list.

“I just wanted to go over this one more time,” she pulled an endless sheet of culinary preferences and objections that she had painstakingly gathered from the entire guest list. Sister Jesse took the list, glanced over it and gave it back.

“We already talked about all of these,” she said. “Goodness, general Lily here must think I have the short memory of a goldfish!” she thought, irritated.

“I apologize, sister! I just want everything to go perfectly. The ceremony is in three days,” Lily justified herself.

“Stop stressing, if something is not going to go as planned, it is not because you didn’t anticipate it,” sister Jesse tried to calm her nerves, managing to achieve the very opposite. Lily looked terrified.

“What do you mean something is not going to go as planned? We absolutely can’t have that!” she panicked instantly.

“Sister, please don’t set her off, we’re trying to get her through the ceremony with her sanity intact, whatever that means,” sister Roberta argued through the interlink.

“Everything will be perfect,” sister Jesse reassured Lily, trying to suppress a smile. “Exactly as planned,” she doubled down on the message, to make sure it sunk in. “Even more so after I finish training the cooks for the knife juggling show,” she said, trying very hard not to laugh at the horrified look on Lily’s face. “I’m joking! Relax! You know, you should take a break, for all our sakes, you’re driving everybody nuts!”

“Not as long as sister Roberta is still working on her sound and light surprise,” Lily said, as she exited of the room.

(Letters to Lelia)