Cooking with Baudelaire: Coq Au Vin

Audra Coleman

  • 750 ml French Burgundy


Yes, let’s get drunk. Very, very drunk. He agrees,
sitting upon my grandmother’s red kitchen stool.
Because I am dressed like Marti Hari in only fish
net stockings, long gloves, and the sequins of tassel
twirls, we agree virtue is not an option, not if we want
to get truly drunk and stay that way. We are both
relieved. He says, “Neither can it be on poetry.” After
all, must he work every waking moment? Let us get
drunk, very, very drunk, and let it be on wine.

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 2 celery stalks, sliced

  • 1 large carrot, peeled, sliced

  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled

  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns


“Slice it all up,” he says. “This is how you make
poetry, by cutting up the words. Words like
peacock, coxcomb, coronets, Caleta Olivia.
Combine them in a large pot. Bring them to a boil
over high heat. Let them simmer for five minutes
and cool completely. Perhaps, just perhaps, you
have a poem.”

I say, “The peacock women of Caleta Olivia fuck
with pleasure, wearing nothing but coronets of red
coxcomb.” He seems to approve.

  • 6 chicken thighs


He says this pleases him greatly, as “thighs are
always, without fail, much juicer than breasts.” He
says he has tasted them all. Porcelain, first snow
thighs. Piano-trained, please don’t let me interrupt
you thighs. Tutored in three languages thighs. Open
your mouth wide like this when saying “mas, mos,
mehr” thighs. Confectionary thighs. Mistress
thighs. Hail Mary Full of Grace, go to confession
thighs. Red light how much thighs. Oracle, truth-
speaking thighs. Let it drip from your mouth thighs.
Black Madonna thighs. Gilded in gold, Calcutta
thighs. Mother with child thighs. Bone soup, I took
her in the kitchen thighs. I say, “Only it’s not bone
soup, you bastard. It’s coq au vin.” In the dream, it
doesn’t matter.

  • 4 large thyme sprigs


“I have no sprigs.”

  • 2 small bay leaves


“Small bay leaves, I’ve never understood.”

  • 2 cups chicken broth


“I don’t know at what latitude to look for it.”

  • 4 tablespoons butter


“Immortal goddess, I would gladly love her.”

  • 1 pound assorted fresh, wild mushrooms


“I hate them as much as you hate God.”

  •    20 pearl onions


“. . . out there . . . over there . . . marvelous onions!”

  •   Bring stew to a simmer


We are drunk. Very, very drunk on too much wine
and thighs.

“Rimbaud was much better,” I say.

“I shall say—not a thing. I shall think—not a
thing,” he says, pulling on his pants, laughing.


Audra Coleman lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she is earning her MLAS at UNCA. She has been honored to see her work in poetry, fiction and creative non-fiction appear in WNC Woman, Mothers Always Write, The Good Mother Project, 3288 Review, Kestrel, Palaver, Quail Bell Magazine and The Great Smokies Review.