“(shrimp and scampi are)…for wanton women’s tastes.” Michael Drayton, 16th century
Though not exactly one of Shakespeare’s most complex dishes, “The Merry Wives’ Plateau de Mer” is nevertheless one of the more popular plates on the menu at the Globe. What’s not to like in gigantic dish of the freshest shellfish on ice? It’s rumored that even Elizabeth stops by from time to time – incognito, of course – to indulge in the plateau.
Falstaff is a fat, lazy, pretentious guy of uncertain origin – some say his family came from fallen German nobility, others that he’s entirely English. We the editors instead think he’s the kind of guy you’d find sitting in the US congress not far from Weiner. In this recipe he tries to seduce two smart, lovely, professional clients, Mistresses Ford and Page, but only manages to make a fool of himself.
The Ingredients of the Recipe:
The freshest shellfish you can find
The Chefs of the Dish:
Falstaff : worked for AIG awhile. Now a dishwasher at the Globe
Pistol: worked as a derivatives trader at Lehman. Now a waiter at the Globe
Mistress Ford: a clever, attractive British bankruptcy lawyer
Ford: her younger, handsome husband
Mistress Page: a clever, attractive British thoracic surgeon
Page: her younger, handsome husband
Shakespeare: Falstaff’s irked boss
Other waiters, chefs, customers, etc.
Act I, sc. 1
Enter Falstaff. Kitchen sounds, clanging plates, boiling broth, flames. Shakespeare, Horatio and the rest of the staff are hard at work in the kitchen as waiters carry plates in and out of the crowded dining room. Falstaff peeks out the door. Enter Mistresses Ford and Page, two attractive 43-year-old upper-middle class London women, into the dining room. They sit at the only empty table
Horatio: Falstaff, where have you been? Marty and Bernie both called in sick. We need help in the dining room to handle this St. George’s crowd. Get changed. You’ll be serving tables 7 to 12.
Falstaff: Sorry. My motorino stal…
Horatio: Don’t want to hear it. Just put on a black suit and start serving.
Exits. Enter Pistol
Falstaff: Pistol, this is my lucky day. Look at those two at table 9.
Pistol: John, I wouldn’t fuck around if I were you. Will is not in the mood.
Falstaff: Hey, I’ll get the food out. But send a tray with two flutes of Prosecco, the good stuff. Tell them compliments of Sir John F.
Pistol: Sir? And just what sir will be paying?
Falstaff: I’ll worry about that. You take out the drinks.
Exits. Pistol pours two flutes and takes them to the table
Pistol: Madam, and madam. Your drinks are being offered by Sir John F. Your waiter will be here shortly. Enjoy.
Mistress Page: (Picks up the flute, looks at Ford, shrugs and takes a sip) I haven’t had someone send me a drink since… post-grad days.
Mistress Ford: Makes two of us. Where is this… Sir John?
Enter Falstaff in a too tight waiter’s uniform looking a bit like an oversized baby penguin, holding a small notebook and pen
Falstaff: Hello, ladies. And might I add, the two loveliest ladies in the room. My name is John, and I’ll be your waiter. Can I get you anything? (Winks at them. The women look at each other, roll their eyes, then slightly nod their heads)
Mistress Ford: Well, John, can we have anything we want?
Mistress Page: You seem to have a knowing appetite. What do you recommend, John? Or should I call you Jack?
Falstaff: Place this John into any word you will, my enchanting mistress, for greatness knows itself beyond the words of any noting. Though my notable waist be two yards ’round, its great girth only rightly proportions the un-noted, noble sheath below, if you catch my drift. You can be the judge of my merit and my appetite anytime. As for my taste, may I recommend you start with a healthy portion of our world’s freshest oysters.
Mistress Ford: Oysters? Hmm, good John, you have piqued my desire with your witful tongue.
Mistress Page: True Jack, you have aroused my hunger with your noting words. Bring us two satisfying Plateaus de Mer for two, tout-de-suite. If the platters be as fresh in flavor as your manliness be great in girth, maybe later we might manage a menage-a-trois in our hotel suite near Kensington.
Falstaff: (Eyes wide open with surprise) M-m-menage a t-t-trois? T-t-two w-women, that eat for four? Then we three are of one nature, and should straightly nurture that natural course. I will throw my waiter’s net into our Neptune’s kitchen to bring you back an ocean of swimming shellfish.
Exits to the kitchen. Enter Pistol into the kitchen next to him
Falstaff: They can’t resist my charms, Pistol. (begins to gyrate awkwardly) They’re eatin’ me with their eyes. They want me, they want to taste some John Falstaff tonight. Give me five. (He raises his hand to give Pistol 5, but Pistol just stares at him)
Pistol: John, someone has taken your brain and dried it out in the sun. Here, take them their food, ya’ hairy weirdo.
Falstaff takes the trays and exits to the dining room. Enter Ford and Page, husbands of the two merry wives, handsome, younger, tall, well dressed and fit. They each bend over to kiss their respective wives. Falstaff pauses, then brings over the food
Mistress Ford: Why thank you, dear John. The platters look as fresh as promised.
Mistress Page: John dear, can we introduce you to our lovely, honest husbands, Page and Ford?
Falstaff: Nice to meet you both. Can I get you anything else?
Mistress Page: Just in case we’re still a little puckish later, do you have any venison on the menu today?
Mistress Ford: You know, roasted deer, John?
Falstaff: I’m sure we can find some for you.
Exits, humiliated, into the kitchen. Enter Pistol
Falstaff: I made an ass of myself again, didn’t I? (Pistol nods his head) I promise I will never, ever try anything so stup…
Shakespeare (off-stage): Falstaff, you charged another 2 drinks to your account? That makes 880 pounds! Tonight you’re on extra clean-up duty. All week you’re on extra clean-up duty. All year you’re on extra clean-up duty. Get over here…
Exit Falstaff. Exit Recipe
The real recipe:
Have your most trusted fish seller prepare the freshest shellfish assortment they have, but definitely include oysters. Keep all the fish packed in ice until ready to serve. Accompany with lemon, Tabasco sauce and/or any other sauces you like. Goes well with Champaign. Or Prosecco Valdobbiadene.