Ask a Book: On the Road to a Perfect Soufflé
Posted by: Keir Graff
Have a burning question about etiquette or literature? Ask a book!
Dear On the Road by Jack Kerouac,
What’s the secret to a perfect soufflé? Mine always fall right as I’m bringing them to a table full of guests. It’s so embarrassing. Please help!
Dear Clueless Chef,
Did you know you can drive from New York to San Francisco in 36 hours? It helps to have the right driver at the wheel, some girls in the backseat, and local radio stations drifting in and out of the static like the muttered imprecations of a senile god. One trip like that we started with a soufflé we had gotten in some Brooklyn bakery before sunup, the owner working the cash register like Van Cliburn and eyeing us like the boss on a Georgia road crew. We paid him with hard cash and good karma and put the pastry box on the dashboard of the car. We decided not to eat it ourselves for we were a delivery crew unwatched and unbidden but sure to be tipped well with jug wine and weed. The box didn’t sleep, and sometimes Dean talked to it, carrying on his arguments against the indifference of nature and sometimes listening as if the soufflé—lemon, I think it was—were answering back. Well, we reached Frisco ahead of schedule, parked on a hill with bricks behind the tires, and climbed three flights of stairs to make the delivery. There was Joan, our angel in a cinched bathrobe, already putting a cigarette to her sleep-bruised mouth. And do you know what? When she finally opened the box, there it was; it hadn’t fallen, its sunny face like a vision of the world made whole. If your soufflés are falling, you’re probably not speeding fast enough.
—On the Road