Gargantua and Pantagruel, by Francois Rabelais

Chapter 60

What the Gastrolaters sacrificed to their god on interlarded fish-days.

Pantagruel did not like this pack of rascally scoundrels with their manifold kitchen sacrifices, and would have been gone had not Epistemon prevailed with him to stay and see the end of the farce. He then asked the skipper what the idle lobcocks used to sacrifice to their gorbellied god on interlarded fish-days. For his first course, said the skipper, they gave him:

Caviare. tops, bishop’s-cods, Red herrings.
Botargoes. celery, chives, ram-Pilchards.
Fresh butter. pions, jew’s-ears (a Anchovies.
Pease soup. sort of mushrooms Fry of tunny.
Spinach. that sprout out of Cauliflowers.
Fresh herrings, full old elders), spara-Beans.
roed. gus, wood-bind, Salt salmon.
Salads, a hundred and a world of Pickled grigs.
varieties, of cres-others. Oysters in the shell.
ses, sodden hop-

Then he must drink, or the devil would gripe him at the throat; this, therefore, they take care to prevent, and nothing is wanting. Which being done, they give him lampreys with hippocras sauce:

Gurnards. Thornbacks. Fried oysters.
Salmon trouts. Sleeves. Cockles.
Barbels, great and Sturgeons. Prawns.
small. Sheath-fish. Smelts.
Roaches. Mackerels. Rock-fish.
Cockerels. Maids. Gracious lords.
Minnows. Plaice. Sword-fish.
Skate-fish. Sharplings. Soles.
Lamprels. Tunnies. Mussels.
Jegs. Silver eels. Lobsters.
Pickerels. Chevins. Great prawns.
Golden carps. Crayfish. Dace.
Burbates. Pallours. Bleaks.
Salmons. Shrimps. Tenches.
Salmon-peels. Congers. Ombres.
Dolphins. Porpoises. Fresh cods.
Barn trouts. Bases. Dried melwels.
Miller’s-thumbs. Shads. Darefish.
Precks. Murenes, a sort of Fausens, and grigs.
Bret-fish. lampreys. Eel-pouts.
Flounders. Graylings. Tortoises.
Sea-nettles. Smys. Serpents, i.e. wood-
Mullets. Turbots. eels.
Gudgeons. Trout, not above a Dories.
Dabs and sandings. foot long. Moor-game.
Haddocks. Salmons. Perches.
Carps. Meagers. Loaches.
Pikes. Sea-breams. Crab-fish.
Bottitoes. Halibuts. Snails and whelks.
Rochets. Dog’s tongue, or kind Frogs.
Sea-bears. fool.

If, when he had crammed all this down his guttural trapdoor, he did not immediately make the fish swim again in his paunch, death would pack him off in a trice. Special care is taken to antidote his godship with vine-tree syrup. Then is sacrificed to him haberdines, poor-jack, minglemangled, mismashed, &c.

Eggs fried, beaten, sliced, roasted in Green-fish.
buttered, poached, the embers, tossed Sea-batts.
hardened, boiled, in the chimney, &c. Cod’s sounds.
broiled, stewed, Stock-fish. Sea-pikes.

Which to concoct and digest the more easily, vinegar is multiplied. For the latter part of their sacrifices they offer:

Rice milk, and hasty Stewed prunes, and Raisins.
pudding. baked bullace. Dates.
Buttered wheat, and Pistachios, or fistic Chestnut and wal-
flummery. nuts. nuts.
Water-gruel, and Figs. Filberts.
milk-porridge. Almond butter. Parsnips.
Frumenty and bonny Skirret root. Artichokes.
clamber. White-pot.
Perpetuity of soaking with the whole.

It was none of their fault, I will assure you, if this same god of theirs was not publicly, preciously, and plentifully served in the sacrifices, better yet than Heliogabalus’s idol; nay, more than Bel and the Dragon in Babylon, under King Belshazzar. Yet Gaster had the manners to own that he was no god, but a poor, vile, wretched creature. And as King Antigonus, first of the name, when one Hermodotus (as poets will flatter, especially princes) in some of his fustian dubbed him a god, and made the sun adopt him for his son, said to him: My lasanophore (or, in plain English, my groom of the close-stool) can give thee the lie; so Master Gaster very civilly used to send back his bigoted worshippers to his close-stool, to see, smell, taste, philosophize, and examine what kind of divinity they could pick out of his sir-reverence.

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Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 15:33