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Les grenouilles et les fromages

After the vol-au-vent and the Madeira, Charles hauls himself to his feet, mumbles something about needing to change, and staggers for the door. A short time later, another guest enters the dining room, introduces himself as Denis, sits down, and asks what the next course is. Roly murmurs that he's sure that he's met Denis before, but he can't remember when. I lean over to tell Roly when it was that he last met Denis, but I lean too far and fall off my chair, I grab the tablecloth for support but only succeed in pulling everything off the table.

After sweeping the debris into a corner and re-laying the table, Juan answers Denis, telling him that he searched the pond and collected a dozen frogs, Denis asks Juan if he has cooked frog’s legs, but Juan says he would not cook frog's legs by themselves, no more than he would cook frogs without legs, it's barbaric, he says. A lizard, he points out, can grow its tail back, if it gets pulled off, but a frog can't grow its legs back, and a frog without legs can't swim, all it can do is bob up and down, which would be miserable for the frog; one should either cook the whole frog, he says, or no frog at all, but, in any event, frogs should not be cooked. With this, Juan places a large, covered, bowl on the table, which Roly and Denis eye warily. Roly tells Juan that, while we all love his cooking, he hopes we are not going to be served cold, dead, raw, frogs. Juan looks pained and says that he would never hurt a frog, except in self defence, but a frog race, he says, always livens up a meal, and he lifts the cover of the bowl and twelve frogs leap out.

We have a lot of fun racing the frogs around the table while Juan serves fromages à pâte molle à croûte lavée. I recommend that we wash it down with Vintage Lochside, Glenrothes, Dalmore, Inchgower, and Lagavulin Private Reserve but Roly reminds us that old Beardy Saintsbury always says that cheese without champagne is like froth without bubbles, basically a form of scum, and he pops the cork of a magnum of 1850 Grand Champagne Delamain. We lift our glasses, drink to the health of our froggy friends and salute all cheesemakers, then, snorting and grunting with appreciation, we dive into the food and cram it into our mouths, as fast as we possibly can.

Professor Humperdink's Diary