When the Hofrat, Hofrärin, and Lutz returned from Mass and removed their Easter finery, the cards of Herr Geheimrat and his family were presented, including two from their perfect, promising, and presentable son, Karl, Doktor of Law. Everyone was electrified. Lent had obviously made the heart grow fonder, and it might be said that the affair was now in full swing. True, both families would first have to be out in force, the most distant connections from the provinces would have to have their say, and the formal letter would have to be written, but the call—the all-important call, which lasted just the correct number of minutes and included all the proper phrases and subjects—had been made. The fact that it had occurred on Easter Sunday morning, at the very first opportunity. so to speak, made for great rejoicing not only in heaven but in Vienna as well.
Young Karl would be given very few opportunities to be gallant and charming before their Verlobung, the engagement, was announced and the banns were read. After that, they would be permitted to walk arm in arm and call each other “Du.” But the real courtship, the one that made Viennese husbands so attractive, would only start after the marriage, when he possessed the hand of Fran Hofrat's oldest daughter and could communicate with her without the help of intermediaries. Frau Geheimrat would have intimate Jausen with Frau Hofrat, although they would probably never descend to first names.
Teckla, in the kitchen, was so carried away with the whole prospect that she planned to insert an advertisement in the Ene Anzeiger, the marriage column, on Easter Monday morning. She advertised for a middle-aged, unattached man, and the final two words, at five schillings each, were Zwecks Ehe, purpose marriage. These activities always frightened the Hofrätin, especially with Verlobungs Feste lying ahead and a wedding day looming. But fortunately Teckla, who had made similar advances in the past, had always discovered, in time, that she was not being sought for herself alone but for her Art. Once she had discovered at the very last moment—the veil was actually paid for—that the honorable widower to whom she was about to give her hand owned an inn for which he badly needed a cook.
Teckla spent Easter Sunday composing ads, with the result that the Schinken, the Easter ham, suffered. Lutz, having gone to seventh heaven, could not keep her mind on the games and races, and battered and crushed so many eggs that it looked as if supper would be Kalter Schinken rather than eggs.
The Easier Rabbit, the misunderstood, leftover symbol of spring and fertility, sat in his empty nest. In the case of the Hofrat's household, where he was baked fresh each year, he lost first his ears and then his entire head to Lutz' young brother long before he was served up for supper.
Egerländer Schinken (Ham with Orange Sauce)
In a heavy skillet brown 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and pour over it 4 ounces warm Curaçao. Ignite the spirit and, when the flame dies out, add the juice of 2 oranges, the slivered outside rind of the oranges, and salt to taste. Set aside the orange sauce.
Trim an 8 to 10-pound precooked ham and bake it in a moderately hot oven (375° F.) until it is hot, basting it frequently with a mixture of 1 cup each of orange juice, Sherry, and water. Spread the hot ham with 1/2 cup dark brown sugar and continue to bake it, basting, for a total of 1 1/2 hours.
Cook 1 1/2 pounds chestnuts and force them through a ricer. Add butter and salt to taste and flavor with 2 tablespoons brandy.
Just before the ham is served, strain 1 cup of the pan juices, skim off the fat, and add the juices to the orange sauce. Heat the sauce and correct the seasoning with salt. Serve the ham with the chestnut puree and serve the orange sauce separately.
Prager Schinken Gefüllt (Stuffed Prague Ham)
Have the butcher bone an 8- to 10-pound precooked ham and cut a hollow through the entire ham. (Use the meat removed for ground-ham dishes.) Fill the hollow with a mixture of 1 pound mushrooms, chopped fine and browned in butter, 1 cup dry whole-wheat or ryebread crumbs, 2 1/2 ounces goose-liver paste, 1/2 cup blanched almonds, slivered, and 1 onion, chopped very fine. Add Sherry to taste. The stuffing should be very firm.
Trim off all excess fat and bind the ham with a strip of cloth, securing the filling but leaving most of the surface of the ham exposed. Bake the ham in a moderately hot oven (375° F.) for 3/4 hour, basting it occasionally with Sherry. Serve it surrounded with fresh pineapple rings filled with matrons glacis and accompany it with potato balls mixed with tiny glazed onions. The ham may be served hot or cold.
Schinken mit Nelken und Bananen (Ham with Cloves and Bananas)
In a roasting pan place a well-trimmed 8- to 10-pound precooked ham with 4 cups water and 1 cup dark brown sugar. Bake the ham in a moderately hot oven (375° F.) for 1 hour, basting it frequently. Take the ham from the oven and let it cool in the liquid in tinpan. Remove it from the pan and stud it with whole cloves, spaced about 3/4 inch apart.
Discard the pan juices and return the ham to the roasting pan. Pour over it a mixture of 2 cups red wine, 1 cup pineapple chunks in their juice, 1/2 cup each of orange juice and chutney, 1/4 cup broken walnut meats, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, a dash each of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Bake the ham in a moderately hot oven (375° F.), basting frequently, for 40 minutes, or until it is heated through.