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Bouillon Appètit

By Marie Lemond

Gripping a shallow dish of flour roux in one hand and a bent whisk in the other, I stood at the stove. It was my third batch of roux and my second bent whisk. Below me, on the burner, sat a pan of hot beef drippings.

“Get with it and dump the roux in,” I thought in panic, “Your hungry guests are waiting — all that's left is the gravy.”

Once more, I poured the pasty roux into the drippings. Once more, I whisked the drippings like a maniac. Once more, the brown mixture bubbled up. But it did not thicken. It did not congeal. It did not become a savory sauce worthy of my sister’s magnificent mashed potatoes. “Party wrecker!” I yelled into the pan.

The swing-door into the kitchen opened halfway. It was my sister popping her curly head in. I could hear laughter and tinkling glasses from my guests in the living room behind her. “What’s the hold up?” she said, “Can I help?”

“I’m botchin’ the gravy. Get back out there and give ‘em more drinks.”

By then, she was at my side. She peered into the pan, her expression a knot of consternation. “Talk to me.”

“I’ve got a franken-sauce goin’ here. It’s got a middle finger and it’s pointed right at me. This slop won’t thicken no matter how much roux I add.”

“You used cold water?”


“You poured it in gradually?”

“Um, not exactly.”

She rolled her eyes. “Okay, but you whisked the whole time?”


She pushed up her sleeves. “Gimmie a spoon.”

I handed her one.

She gathered a bit of the drippings onto the spoon, made two gentle blows, then tasted. “Bland,” she said shaking her head, “Runny and bland.”

“Runny and bland?” I cried. I grabbed the jar of bouillon cubes from the shelf over the stove. Big Taste Bouillon the label read.

She snatched the jar from me. “Since when are you a gravy cheat?"

“Since now. That ooze needs doctoring and Big Taste will do it.”

She plunked the jar down on the counter. “Big Taste boosts flavor. It is no remedy for the runnies.”

“Well what am I gonna do? It’s a crime to top your fluffy mashed potatoes with this hot mess.”

“I know.”

She stepped to the fridge and flung open the door. Bending at the waste, she reached way in, clear back, behind the big bowl of Waldorf salad, two pumpkin pies, and the silver server of whipped cream. When she straightened up, she held a jumbo jar containing a golden brown concoction.

“You brought your homemade gravy?” I said, “You’re saving me?”

She opened the jar. “You don’t mind?”

“Are you kidding? You arrived just in time with the gravy train!”

— Marie Lemond

Marie Lemond is an essayist living in Washington State. Her work has also appeared in Country Magazine, Women and Golf Magazine, Inside Golf News and Grande Dame Literary. Visit Marie at

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