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“The secret is never to lose one's head.”
Marie Antoinette (2 November 1755 – 16 October 1793) was the archetypal total Austrian bitch. She is notable now only for her signature cakes, which have made her an international icon, an Enlightenment version of Martha Stewart. Antoinette, however, is a full head shorter, thanks to an accident, a slice of fate that led to great happiness for all. Antoinette is known to this day for "cutting-edge" innovations.
Antoinette was born an Austrian princess and grew up to be an innovator to fashion and a slave to good food. As a youth in Vienna, she declined to join her mother Empress Marie Theresa and family in endless renditions of the pizzicato polka. She also claimed either Mozart or Haydn stole her cherry whilst they were alone in the hedge maze. When in later years Mozart asked to visit Versailles to perform The Magic Flute, his request was always denied on a point of decorum.
Life for Antoinette in The Hoff Palace in Vienna was sticky and sweet. She often dreamed of being whisked away from her dull and stuffy life in the palace, running away and eloping in a carriage with a dashing rich boy who wasn't a distant cousin. It was an unrealistic ambition, even for an 18th-century Austrian. Her mother was worried about Antoinette's scandalous Bohemian attitude. One night, the young princess went to dinner without stockings, creating a scandal that Austrians are still trying to forget 360 years later. Her mother tried to turn her daughter's attention from powdered posers to working on her baking skills. This backfired when Antoinette served a shitbake pie to one particular douchy German groper who wanted her delicate hand, thin legs and streamlined arse in marriage. The empress decided her daughter would be better off somewhere where mud pies were considered funny, and wrote to her French pen-pal King Louis XV of France if he would like a fluffy pancake of a daughter-in-law.
A clash of cuisines
After the fakest tears ever shed on European soil, Antoinette was catapulted off to live in the vast palace at Versailles. King Louis XV had been France's king since the age of 5. It was an age at which he stayed, at least mentally, for the rest of his life. As an absolute monarch Louis preferred to spend his reign with his aristocratic nose pressed firmly into the bosoms of a succession of mistresses.
Coming up briefly for air, Louis offered Antoinette the choice of marrying one his grandsons from a shortlist of three:
Antoinette chose the less-stupid-looking Louis. Louis A liked playing with his clock and had a maladjusted penis. French courtiers were sure there was a connection, but Antoinette was in no hurry to turn herself in a self-raising baby maker just quite yet. She was also getting a serious cake addiction and would sneak away to lick all the chocolate off a contingent of mercenary Belgian soldiers.
When the old king finally suffocated to death in the heaving cleavage of Madame du Barry, France celebrated and burnt their furniture in joy. Everyone hoped the new monarch and his wife would be an improvement. They were in some ways — at least King Louis XVI was. He refused to have a mistress and obediently ate his cupcakes when his wife baked them in rich cinnamon and garlic. Now that she was queen, Antoinette could go around Versailles smacking up duchesses, popping caps in others asses, and, on occasion, the tossing of salad. Antoinette also spent lots of money on herself. She spent 1.6 million livres ($5 billion, U.S.) on a necklace, which was later found to be plastic. It gained Antoinette the reputation for being rich, thick and stupid — a right royal milkshake.
Life as the Queen
To recover her reputation, Antoinette tried to give her husband a few heirs and spares to carry on the Bourbon distillery dynasty. However, she was curiously naïve about how to make babies and tried to interest Louis with a visit to the zoo to watch mating ducks. He had no idea either, and was horrified when told that he would have to impregnate his wife with his cock. Louis, perennially a bit hard-of-hearing, said, "You ask me to place a timepiece in my wife's stomach. You are a cruel man." The situation was eventually resolved when Marie's mother sent her brother Holy Roman Emperor Joseph II over from Germany. He operated on Louis's poorly performing member, then and there, with a Swiss army knife, something Joseph said all monarchs should do to help each other.
Within a few months, Antoinette had a bun in the real oven. Over the next years, she presented her husband with four children, three tarts and a sponge pudding. The Bourbon brand appeared to have been preserved and everyone in France could drink to that. She also said that her sex life was now fantastic and she owed it all to cake, or more precisely, "her recipe." Antoinette's Home Baked Cookies became an overnight success and Versailles was soon besieged by people asking for the recipe.
This story should have a happy ending, but Marie's growing libido was too much for her husband. He retired to the pleasures of hunting, happily chasing stags in the royal forests and fixing a clock when temptation proved too much. Marie was also distracted. Fearing she would soon stuff herself fat with her own cooking, she embarked on a series of love affairs with foreign ambassadors. She liked Swedes best; their ability to stay up all night greatly impressed her and they sang lovely harmonies when not going all Ingmar Bergman on her. If there had been a Swedish car available, Marie would have bought a Volvo, or rather had the French treasury buy her one. However, when she checked, it was empty.
In 1789, the French finally became disaffected of both Marie and her cooking, and broke into rebellion; when a wave of angry working class housewives stormed the palace for making them over eaters. French revolutionaries who wouldn't know a good souffle from a bowl of hot sick made life difficult for King Louis. He went along with their demands, but in 1791 he tried to "chew and screw," fleeing from France for Germany. Louis and his family were caught and now the French decided they were going to chop more than carrots in their political kitchen. Louis went first, dressed up as a goose if he was going to fancy dress party. His last words were, "This was all my foie gras. Now say toodle-oo to Lou. Vive la France!"
Antoinette had to wait a bit longer but she took her turn a some months later. As a special treat for the fallen queen, the guillotine was given a fresh coat of paint. Her old baking recipes were thrown in her face by the angry Jacobins who now ran France. Her chief tormentors Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre stood by with their fresh baguettes, ready to dip them in Antoinette's blood once the blade fell. The Age of Cake was truly over. C'est La Pastry Revolution.
- ↑ Playing the flute became a capital offence in France, like not paying your taxes.
- ↑ Both of his sons were named Louis, in case one died early.
- ↑ A passing originally celebrated in a wax tableaux by Madame Tussaud. Only the du Barry figure remains. Louis's figure was melted down.
- ↑ Now known as Bouillabaisse.