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THE DIGESTIVE OF THE TIME OF THE WAR_Michael_of_greece_digeen temps de guerre


My mother’s first cousin, the Duke of X, was as charming as he was jovial. During the Second World War, like so many Frenchmen, he and his whole family sought refuge in the family castle in the country. At that time, the question of where the ingredients and foods that appeared on the table came from scarcely arose. Everyone knew of the presence of the black market; everybody knew that all kinds of illicit trading went on; yet, especially in the countryside, no questions were asked.

So, throughout those tragic years, the Duke and his family ate just enough to get by yet never went without food altogether. One thing was prized above all others; after every lunch and every dinner, the old butler of the family served a digestive of extraordinary quality. So, in order to endure the misery of these times, it became quite common for some members of the family to turn to this drink: this alcohol of the gods that seemed inexhaustible.

THE DIGESTIVE OF THE TIME OF THE WAR_Michael of greece_ Digestif_ en temps_ de _guerre

Then the war ended, the Duke summoned his butler. “Now, tell me, where does that extraordinary digestive that you have served us for all these years come from?”

“Monsieur has no doubt forgotten, but when your grandfather died, the tomb he had requested remained unfinished.”

So, while waiting for a time at which to bury him, his body was placed in a barrel of alcohol to preserve it until such time as the tomb became ready. It was done so well that it occurred to no-one that the body remained undisturbed in the barrel of alcohol where it still lies. Then I opened the barrel, tasted the alcohol and found it excellent. In the circumstances, I thought that both yourself and your esteemed guests would be satisfied. Quite some quantity of the alcohol has now been consumed such that only a little remains and the condition of the corpse of your grandfather has declined somewhat.”

by Prince Michael of Greece