The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

James Holding's Recipe For Murder appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense. First published in 1973, this short story reads somewhat strangely, as though Holding were not a native speaker of English. In it, a retired chef, world-famous for a soup called Potage François Premier, is tortured by his niece and her husband (a failed chef himself) for the recipe, which he had planned to freely bequeath to an international society of gastronomes.
"Awake, are you, Uncle?" he inquired. "Good. I give you three minutes to collect your senses and prod your memory. Then I want you to dictate the recipe for Potage François Premier to Yvonne. Or else, as the Americans say." 
"Or else what?" Fear clutched André again. He shook it off impatiently. 
"I'll bring you another small taste of death," Gustav said. "This time considerably more painful, however." 
"I see. And if I give you my recipe, how will you be sure it is genuine?" 
"I shall prepare your soup myself, here in this house, before I accept the recipe as true. Believe me, I am chef enough to recognize it. And Yvonne has tasted the original, remember. Like falling in love, I believe she said." 
André saw that Yvonne now had a pad of paper on her lap and held a ball-point pen poised above it. With difficulty he summoned a shaky laugh. "I cannot believe you are serious, Gustav." 
"I am very serious. Dictate." 
"No," André said, testing them for the last time. 
Yvonne handed Gustav her cigarette. "Here," she purred in her soft voice. "Show him, darling." 
Gustav placed the burning cigarette end under André 's left eye and pressed it against the flesh with disdainful carelessness. André bellowed with pain and squirmed on the bed like a maddened eel. 
"You see?" Gustav said, lifting the glowing coal at last and handing the cigarette back to his wife. Yvonne took an unconcerned puff upon the stub before tamping it under her heel. 
"I am ready for you to begin," she said, smiling at her uncle and gesturing with her ball-point pen.
André clenched his teeth against the pain in his cheek and thought sadly, So it is true then. They really would torture me to get my recipe ... and perhaps kill me afterward to safeguard themselves. He felt only contempt for the man Gustav, but a corrosive sense of sorrow for his niece. He said in a low voice, "You begin with chicken stock..." 
Gustav's pig-eyes glinted and Yvonne's pen began to race across her pad. 
"... made with lightly salted water, simmered for exactly five hours, strained, reheated, and allowed to cool four separate times. Carefully skim off the solidified fat after each cooling. Add half a cup of salted water to the kettle before each reheating, and each reheating should simmer for thirty-eight minutes." 
He paused until Yvonne's pen caught up with him, then resumed 
"Use five cups of the chicken stock thus obtained to boil the leanest parts of three ducklings for five hours at a slow simmer, again straining, reheating, and cooling four times, and skimming fat as before, adding for more tablespoons of the pure stock, lightly salted, to the mix before each reheating." 
Gustav hung over Yvonne's shoulder, watching the words take shape upon her pad. He scarcely breathed, he was so intent. 
André continued. "After straining the mixed poultry stock for the last time, use three cups of it to form a marinade in which you soak thinly cut cucumber slices for eight hours, after which you add the juice extracted from three small carrots before combining the cucumber-carrot liquor with the remaining poultry stock. You continue to reheat this stock and salt lightly until the vegetable taste factor of cucumber-carrot begins to dominate the poultry taste factor in the broth." He paused for breath and went on. "Taste frequently to ascertain the exact point of balance." 
André 's voice droned on, reciting a complicated formula consisting of ingredients he knew were readily available either on his own farm or in the village grocery store. From chicken stock to the final bacon crumbs, there were twenty-six ingredients. When he finished, he said, "And that's my recipe, in its entirety. Now release me."


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