This post originally appeared in the Style section of The Daily Punctilio. (Republished here with no permission whatsoever.)
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Dining In with Esme Squalor
May 5, Daily Punctilio Style Section
We sat down for aqueous martinis and an intimate lunch with Esme Gigi Geniveve Squalor on the eve of her glamorous In Auction, to be held later this week at Veblen Hall. The city's 6th most important financial advisor gives us a peek behind the scenes of her fashionable lifestyle and the causes she believes in, and tells us what it takes to surround yourself with only the innest foods.
Daily Punctilio - Thank you so much for welcoming us to your lovely home.
Esme Squalor - Thank you for coming. Even though I am unbelievably wealthy, you may call me Esme. I'll learn your names later.
Punctilio - Thank you, Esme! That was quite a walk up the stairs.
Esme - Yes, we're very proud of the lack of operating elevators in this building.
Punctilio - The candles were a nice touch. They made the steps almost visible.
Esme - Almost visible? Oh no. Dark means dark. I'll have to talk to Doorman about that as soon as we're finished here.
Punctilio - You're such a renowned expert on what's in, Esme. How do you do it?
Esme - You know, it's all about priorities. Some people complain about not knowing what's in, and I think to myself, well, you need to work harder at it! People love to complain. Oh poor me, I need food, I need health care, my parents are dead, I can't see the stairs, wah wah wah! People just don't want to work for anything anymore. It takes a lot of hard work and sacrifice to be in.
Punctilio - Tell the readers of The Daily Punctilio about the sacrifices you've made, Esme!
Esme - I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I've worked very, very hard. I've built great structures. I've had tremendous success. And I've raised millions of dollars for good causes, like the In Auction.
Punctilio - Speaking of in, what are we having for lunch, Esme? The readers of The Daily Punctilio are dying to know.
Esme - Only the innest foods, of course! We're having a salmon hors d'oeuvre, followed by salmon salad, and our entree will be roast salmon. And for dessert, a seafoam salmon souffle.
Punctilio - Wow, you've thought of everything! That's a lot of salmon!
Esme - Yes, it certainly is, thank you.
Punctilio - I noticed there are no vegetables on the menu. Are vegetables out?
Esme - Why of course vegetables are in, darling! Rutabagas are in! (Laughs.) Can you imagine, an entire meal without rutabagas? Oh, you make me laugh, Newspaper. Oh, here is Kitchen now with our hors d'oeuvre. Thank you, Kitchen, it looks smashing.
Kitchen - Uh, my name is...
Esme - Yes, that's right, set those down right here on the table. Thank you, Kitchen, you may go now.
Punctilio - Wow, this looks really in, Esme! Tell the readers of The Daily Punctilio what we're having!
Esme - This is an Artichoke Leaf Appetizer with Salmon and Rutabaga Straws. You see, it has both salmon and rutabagas! Rutabagas are the innest root vegetable, you know.
Punctilio - Wait until the readers of The Daily Punctilio see this! Esme, are artichokes in too?
Esme - Don't be silly! You don't understand. You see, salmon and rutabagas are in, so the artichoke leaves are simply used to serve the salmon and rutabaga. You scrape off all the in food into your mouth with your teeth, like this. That way, the in foods go in and the out foods stay out. It's an in-appetizer-delivery-device. You may quote me on that.
Punctilio - Wow, that's so creative, Esme! How do you do it? Do you like to cook?
Esme - Cook? You mean me, cook? (Laughs.) Oh, you're funny, Newspaper! Cooking is in, of course! And servants are in. So I have servants who cook! You see how that works?
Punctilio - Oh, that's brilliant, Esme.
Esme - Yes, this is what I mean about hard work. You really have to work hard to combine things and have as many in things as possible. It's not easy. Oh, speaking of in things, here is Gunther! Hello, Gunther, join us!
[At this time, we were delighted to be joined by a very fashionable foreign man with an accent!]
Gunther - Hello pretty lady. Hello newspaper lady. Please.
Esme - This is Gunther, the innest auctioneer in the city. He'll be hosting the In Auction for me!
Punctilio - Wow, that's so exciting! Nice to meet you, Gunther!
Gunther - Nice to meet you, please.
Esme - Isn't he smashing? He's very foreign.
Punctilio - Gunther, what foreign land do you come from? The readers of The Daily Punctilio will want to know!
Gunther - Is very far away, please. How you say?
Esme - Oh, Gunther's culture is so interesting. Not like those other countries that make you feel guilty or uncomfortable.
Punctilio - Esme, tell me more about the In Auction! I know the readers of The Daily Punctilio will want to know all the details.
Esme - Oh, it's going to be smashing! It's happening on the innest day, which is the day after tomorrow. And it's at the innest auction house, the prestigious Veblen Hall. We're auctioning off only the innest things. It's going to be so fashionable that people are going to go into anaphylactic shock and die. And of course, all the money goes to a good cause.
Punctilio - Is it the same good cause as last year, Esme?
Esme - That's right! All the money goes to me.
Gunther - Und me.
Esme - Every last penny goes to me...
Gunther - Und, please, there will be some fees and incidentals...
Esme - ...so I can continue my important work to promote in-ness in our community. It costs a lot of money to live in a penthouse and remove elevators from buildings. It's fundraisers like the In Auction that make all of this important work possible.
Punctilio - That is an important cause!
Esme - In fact, I'm in the process right now of acquiring some of the innest things in my entire collection! Three things, actually.
Punctilio - Do tell! The readers of The Daily Punctilio will want to hear all about it.
Esme - Well, I can't say too much just yet. But maybe we can give a little hint. What do you think, Gunther?
Gunther - Please, it rhymes with fortunes.
[At this, Gunther began laughing maniacally for some reason. Then Esme began laughing along with him.]
Esme - No, darling, that's really more of a half-rhyme. It rhymes with endorphins, which is a word that means in things that make you feel good. Like money, for example.
Punctilio - That sounds so exciting, Esme!
Esme - Gunther has been enormously helpful in acquiring these 3 latest pieces. They were recently shipped to the city from a boarding school, and there's a banker involved, and a will or something. It's all very complicated.
Punctilio - Can't you tell us any more about it, Esme?
Esme - Well, let's see. Only because I like you, Newspaper, here's what I can tell you. These three new objects are arriving tomorrow. After they've arrived, we'll be dining at the innest restaurant in the city. If any reporters happen to be there, they'll get quite a scoop.
Punctilio - Thank you, Esme!
To my kind Webmaster,
Please don't print any more of that dreadful interview. Even now, as I crouch in the pantry of a certain Town Hall kitchen, quietly uploading this post with pirated Wi-Fi in violation of Rule #4,872, this interview is making my stomach turn.
The distastefully fashionable events surrounding Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire at the hands of Esme Squalor and Gunther would be as upsetting to our readers as the sandwich I pilfered from the Town Hall cafeteria was to my stomach. So I won't relate them here in any more detail.
I'm also including a link to the recipe for Artichoke Leaf Appetizer with Salmon and Rutabaga Straws, which was created by my associate, who was Esme Squalor's personal chef at the time of this interview and shall remain nameless for her own protection. (Her culinary skills were second only to her lockpicking skills.)
With all due respect,
Lynley Jones, Proprietress
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If you're looking for advice on leading a fashionable and villainous lifestyle, you may want to consult this instruction manual: