The main meal, for the most part, was staring to wind down. People were lazily eating the remaining food before them and still happily chatting to each other. Johannes was one of those people who picked at the remainder of his food and sipped on his wine. He was happily full and while he could just give in and over indulged he did not. Johannes was happy and content; ready to go home and sleep.
With a content sigh Johannes turned his attention to Franz who was happily chatting away. Franz was much more use to this type of lifestyle than Johannes. Even though Franz was the second son to a baron Franz and his family spent the majority of their days in the Austro-Hungarian court. He really shined in these instances whereas Johannes didn’t. Johannes was, however, okay with that and let Franz do much of the talking. Eventually the day would come that Johannes was expected to carry on the conversation but that day wasn’t today.
As the conversation between Franz and the lady besides him dwindled down Johannes was about to say something to Franz when a voice cut through the conversations at the table. The new voice commanded the surrounding area and everyone turned their attention to the man. In his hand was a platter filled with delectable items. Johannes was cursed to have a sweet tooth and even though he was full those cheesecakes were exactly what he needed. Especially the blueberry cheesecake. Blueberries happened to be Johannes’ favorite berry, making the cheesecake that more enticing. Whoever this man was he surely descended from the heavens.
Said man’s attention seemed to have shifted from the rest of the table to single out him and Franz. For a heartbeat Johannes considered not giving into temptation but obviously lost that battle. “I think I’ll go with the blueberry marbled cheesecake,” Johannes replied to the stranger while Franz piped in with a chocolate. “Dinner was marvelous. I don’t think I’ve ever had anything as delicious as today’s meal. The King and Queen have chosen their head chef wisely,” he added when the man asked about the food. Johannes was not a man to give out frivolous compliments to just anyone or anything. Nor was he a man to find himself enamored with something as simple as food but the chef had achieved that in the course of one meal. Johannes would marry them if he could. Despite hating parties Johannes was already planning on going to another just so that he could enjoy this food again. Maybe, not another party so soon though because he feared that his waistline wouldn’t be able to take the onslaught of food.
With the cheesecake out of the way Johannes let himself actually look at the man that had brought out such delicious delicacies. The very first thing to run through his mind was that the man was rather handsome. Handsome in a way that was Johannes’ type, to be exact. Despite having been married to a woman Johannes had always preferred men. His marriage was actually a coverup for his extra activities as well as served to give Johannes some sort of position in society instead of sitting in limbo. But those were thoughts he needed to rapidly dismiss. The second thought that came to Johannes’ mind as he shoved the first one away was the man was somewhat important. He was, obviously, dressed nicely but seemed to have the air of command like he had a part to play in this banquet besides serving it. If Johannes was to guess what this man did it was probably coking some of the food. It was even possible this man was the head chef but Johannes was personally leaning against the idea since the man appeared so young. Either way the kitchen staff deserved some praises. “Please send my compliments to the chefs, Monsieur,” he decided on saying. Johannes wanted to ask more about the males’ role in the meal but held back since it wasn’t really the forum to do so. Either way Johannes found himself curious about the stranger.
Plenty of people hated, no, [i loathed] the fact there was a foreigner on the throne. To have a Queen who was not even French was an unfathomable idea to many in France. King Louis XVI’s court was bubbling to the brim with gossip, as always, and buzzing with rumors and disbelief when news of his courtship of Archduchess Marie Antoinette of Austria began to circulate. Seemingly nobody wanted an Austrian woman as their Queen. Some even so boldly proclaimed that their union was a marker of the end of the mighty French monarchy. A few subjects even went so far to say that this was a sly ploy on the Austro-Hungarian Empire’s part to bring an end to France’s power and prestige. It just did not make any sense to a lot of people when there were plenty of eligible French noblewomen who were poised for marriage. But the King didn’t listen to the outpouring of criticism. The marriage was more of a political business transaction than anything else to him.
Charlemagne was one of the royal subjects who did not approve of Marie Antoinette being the Queen of France alongside of King Louis XVI. He did believe that having an Austrian as Queen was ridiculous, but he knew there was nothing that could be done about it now. [#900 [i ‘At least I’m not so paranoid unlike some who cry about it being the end of French society as we know it.’]] the man thought, shaking his head in the palace’s kitchen. He had been told time and time again that he was incredibly biased since he was the Royal Family’s personal chef. However, the case wasn’t so clear cut as bitter subjects thought. Charlie had been personally called upon by the King through a royal order to be the leading chef at the palace after the King and Queen had taken a leisurely tour through France’s wine country. They had stopped by Charlemagne’s family winery in Bordeaux unexpectedly since the King happened to enjoy the sight he saw of organized, but ornate rows of grape vines and the processing building where the actual wines of the Marquis’ business were made. It had been a shock to Charlemagne and his brother Sébastien to receive guards, the King, and Queen. There had been zero notice, but the two brothers were quick to accommodate their guests. Charlemagne had been charged to give the King and Queen a proper tour while Sébastien hurried off to fetch proper samples at the request of the Queen. It was during that tour of the facilities that the King had taken a liking to Charlemagne due to his charisma, honesty, and respectfulness. And it was about a month or so after this meeting that Charlemagne had been called to the Palace of Versailles to work for the Royal Family as their personal master sommelier. But when the King found out Charlemagne could also cook; the man worked in both capacities and was paid accordingly.
It was hard work keeping the royal family fed and satisfied, though. The King, Queen, and their children all had very fine, picky palates. They only wanted the finest cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And this didn’t even account for tea time and relatives of the family who regularly visited. Charlemagne, however, didn’t cower back from the challenge. Instead he put his best foot forward and ran a tight ship in the kitchen to ensure that the food that servers carried out was nothing but delectable perfection. This was always the case, and even more so for the lavish banquets the King and Queen held regularly. The pressure was magnified ten times, at least, because not only were the Royal Family needing to be fed, but so were their guests that included foreign dignitaries and whoever else the King and Queen happened to invite that night.
Tonight’s meal was exceptionally extravagant as no expense had been spared and no detail overlooked. Charlemagne only allowed the finest ingredients into the palace’s kitchen. Those ingredients ranged from cured meats from Spain all the way to truffles harvested in Italy. While Charlie was a chef and master sommelier, he made sure to scout out only the best for the Royal Family. In return the Royal Family paid him handsomely for his efforts as well as invested in his family’s winery. It was a win-win for both parties involved. Life really was much easier being in the favor of the King and Queen. And Charlie was intent on keeping it that way, striving constantly to outshine anyone vying to replace him. And the King had always noted the man’s talent and efforts, keeping him around because of this.
It had been such a long day of preparation that by the time deserts were served, Charlemagne was thoroughly exhausted. But the man didn’t stop there. He had put his apron back on the hanging rack and washed up before taking a few plates with him from the kitchen to serve a table. Charlemagne always liked hearing feedback from the people who ate his food. After taking a moment to collect his thoughts and switch from his strict in-the-kitchen mindset to a friendlier demeanor Charlie made his way out into the expansive dining hall nobles and guests alike were dining in.
Swiftly he weaved through the throngs of tables to reach the one he needed to go to. [#900 [i ‘Austrian folk.’]] Charlie thought. He was amused but still delighted none the less. They were guests of the palace and Charlemagne had a personal rule to treat all guests with respect regardless of their origins. [#900 [i ‘Except Prussians. But thank God they’re not here.’]] he mused while approaching the table with the silver platter of deserts.
[#900 “Bonsoir, mesdames et messieurs. I have a platter of specially crafted marbled cheesecakes for you if you elect to have desert. There is strawberry, chocolate, and blueberry marbled cheesecake to choose from.”] Charlemagne offered, showing off the platter to help the members of the table decide on what kind of cake they wanted. The favorite kind of cake, though, appeared to be the chocolate marbled variety as people made their pick. [#900 “And for you two gentlemen?”] Charlemagne inquired, turning his attention to Franz and Johannes. [#900 “Also, I trust that your dinner has satisfied you?...”]
Johannes was simply tired. Sitting in the lavish palace, a guest of King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, did nothing to stave off his boredom and sleepiness. Right now he could be curled up in his empty bed with a book in hand and a single candle illuminating the room all while dozing off. Instead he was sitting in the very definition of opulence. Gold seemed to plate every surface that it could, contrasting with the white walls and blue drapery. It was beautiful and Johannes would probably have enjoyed his surroundings a tad bit more if he wasn’t tired. Maria, his youngest child, was having a crying spell that was driving everyone to the brink of insanity. The only time she seemed to fall silent was when Johannes rocked her and sang to her. His son, aptly named Johannes, would then grow jealous and demand his attention as well. This left Johannes to deal with one screaming child and a clingy sniffling child. Never had Johannes wished so much for a wife except in those moments when the moon was tauntingly shining in through the window and Johannes had two bratty kids crying in his arms. He could have handed them off to his staff but that would do no good in silencing either of them. Instead he was forced to run off of a handful hours of rest and suffer the presence of so many snobby aristocrats. To make matters even better very few of these aristocrats even wanted him to be at this banquet.
“Johannes are the kids still keeping you up?” A gravelly voice to his right asked.
Turning his attention away from his plate he looked over to his Father-in-law, Franz von Wächter, who happened to be the ambassador. Franz’s position was the primary reason Johannes had married Franz’s daughter in the first place but those were small details. “Yes. Maria has taken to screaming her head off when I’m not holding her. I think the wet nurse is at the cusp of quitting,” he softly said, trying not to draw attention to their conversation. He didn’t want to deal with the surrounding company’s opinions and suggestions right now. Thankfully, all around him were loud conversations going on that helped mask his and Franz’s conversation. Some of the conversations Johannes could hear were about current politics while others were borderline lewd. A whole medley of topics were being discussed in the large ornate room.
Franz let out a soft chuckle as he brought his cup up to his lips. “The trials and tribulations of being a father. She will calm down, eventually,” he reassuringly said before taking a sip of wine.
A dark eyebrow arched in disbelief. At the rate Maria was going Johannes doubted that she would ever stop crying. “I can only hope,” he dryly replied. He was sure the moment he returned home he would find half his staff had quit because of Maria’s screaming. Johannes was already dreading the mere idea of finding anyone new to work in his household. Despite the Austro-Hungary Empire having one of their own in a position of authority in France there were still disdain throughout the population towards his people. The first wet nurse Johannes had hired left only a few days before Maria was born and the one he tried to hire had declined solely because he wasn’t French and was the “enemy”. While he was ready for the pushback from the French people he wasn’t ready for it to happen while dealing with an infant whose mother was no longer alive and who needed to be fed soon. It was a stressful time that quickly ended with Franz pulling some strings and getting someone to take care of Maria and little Johannes. If only Johannes could slip out of this party to ensure he had employees by the nights end.
Resigning himself to his demise he turned his attention to the food. The food and the wine were the only good thing about this party. Everything so far had been masterfully crafted and beautifully paired with the best of wines. Honestly he wasn’t even sure which dish had been his favorite because all of them were great. It was fitting for the King to have the best chef in the world but still Johannes couldn’t help but be jealous. This food was spoiling him and he was pretty sure he couldn’t go back to the normal food his own chef made. “The chef did an amazing job,” he said as he took another bite of something. Johannes wasn’t too sure of what he was eating but he did know it was good which was the only thing that matter.
“He really did. I was told the Chef’s name the last banquet I went to and I fear I can’t remember it right now,” Franz said before getting pulled into a conversation by the lady to his right.
Johannes let out a soft hum in acknowledgement as he took a sip of his wine. He really needed to find out the name of the chef and where this wine was from.