Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Make Mine a Prince Rupert


Twelve cordial glasses, remnants of Blair family dinners, sit unused in my china cabinet. I'm torn between pressing them into service this Christmas and declaring them a family heirloom ready to be passed on to the next generation. The next generation, however, cannot possibly venerate them as I do, unless I tell the stories that go with them.

My maternal grandmother, Ruth Hatch Anderson (Mimi), (that's your great-great grandmother, Ben, Logan, Tom, Bill, Dan, and Robby) bought these for serving King Alphonses after family dinners (and after several high balls and free flowing wine). A king Alphonse is prepared by floating whipping cream on Creme de Cacao. Serving them was a big ritual -- the cream was floated by pouring it over the back of a spoon. If not done with a gentle steady hand, the cream would mix with the liqueur and "boil." This was considered a disaster and was to be avoided at all costs -- "accidents" were quickly tipped into the mouth of the host and a fresh drink prepared. When all the drinks were assembled, they were placed on a tray and passed around the table. For the kids, the ratio of cream to booze was reversed, but they were served, just as they had been served watered-down wine at dinner.

A part of the ritual included my father retelling the story ("here we go again") of trying to be a hot shot when ordering a drink at the bar in the San Francisco Opera House while an underage student at the University of California in Berkeley. Instead of asking for a King Alphonse, he requested a Prince Rupert, bewildering the bartender and humiliating himself.

Later, my mother took over the traditional dinners and the cordial glasses and eventually they passed down to me, although I don't think I've ever used them. The bases of four of the little glasses are chipped, probably because the dishwasher (a person, not a machine) had had a few too many and clunked them against the faucet. I don't think the glasses have been used in twenty years. I'm sure the grime in them comes from my mother's house.

They are tiny, holding 1/2 oz. if filled to the brim. If you want them, let me know (family members only, please). First to respond can have them.



Brown recluse or not? (I think not.)

4 comments:

  1. Doesn't the resident entomologist know this spider? My own guess is no, but shape, size and coloring suggest brown recluse but I thought hey all had a fiddle on their back.

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  2. I didn't show it to the resident entomologist because I knew he would object to me smashing it. I also didn't want his brother to know about it because he freaks out over spiders. Thought I'd try to find out what it was before raising any alarm. I don't think it is a Brown Recluse because it has slightly hair legs, I think BR's are clean-shaven.

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  3. There seems to be very little 'heirlooms' from Mimi. I guess so much was lost in the fire. I still remember her scent, I think it was Ole of Olay.
    It was a special treat to be served Crème de menthe at the family parties.
    Colleen

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  4. Yes, I think the only things from Mimi are the octagon table (yours, some day) and these little glasses. Her scent was lavendar, I don't know what brand -- Oil of Olay didn't exist until around 1973 just after she died.

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