Shakespeare Week – Wednesday Will: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s Dead Fish Soup


…for Will’s Week, take have a listen or read Vanessa’s fun review of Romeo and Juliet at Food In Books: – podcast:


…or, for a longer meal – Dinner at The Globe:

“A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat the fish that hath fed of that worm.” Hamlet, 4.1

Other than their well-noted names, it’s unclear if Rosencrantz and Guildenstern ever actually existed. There’s no record of them as ever being on staff, well, frankly anywhere. Ever. Perhaps it’s precisely that, their unusual flavorlessness, that has inspired so many other chefs to make a “Fishy Soup” of their own (particularly T. Stoppard’s exquisite “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s Fish Soup is Dead, and they’re not feeling particularly swell either”.) But hardly a flavorless dish, William’s version of “Fishy Soup” is of a fulfilling bouillabaisse-type that when done well is one of the most gratifying, hearty plates in the world.

The Ingredients of the Dish:

Salt and pepper
Hot pepper
White wine
Mixed fish heads and other parts
Extra-Virgin olive oil

The Chefs of the Soup:

Rosencrantz – see Guildenstern
Guildenstern – see Rosencrantz

Serves you right

Act I, sc. 1

An apartment. Enter Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 

Rosencrantz: Dear Guildenstern, did you remember to
Procure from the great, China-ed Mart-of-Wal
Those fabulously flavored fish-heads for me,
That I, our chef this cool winter’s ‘eve,
Need to have for us to be delighted
By this old family recipe?

Guildenstern:                    Good
Rosencrantz, how unlike myself should I
Have been would not had I gotten those
Perfumed, swimming relics of Neptune’s lake?
Here they are, of Dover Sole, Ocean Perch,
Sardine and all. A fishy variety
Befitting a poor king, or a poor king’s fake.

Rosencrantz: Or a poor Queen, cousin. ‘Twas she who bid us
To feed the troubled Hamlet a happy dish
To brighten the black clouds that of late
Darken o’er his once sunlit vision.

Guildenstern: Indeed, ‘tis a rotten state that such a noble prince as he
Should pass another Saturday night lonely.

Rosencrantz: ‘Cause he aint got nobody?

Guildenstern: Though he does got some money.
‘Tis the 27th of the month, and being the only heir to Elsinore’s highest chair
Does bring him the tallest monthly pension.

Rosencrantz: I’ll say. Did you see his Amex? It’s the black one.

Guildenstern: Black? Man. Like I said, unemployed royal membership has its privileges.

Rosencrantz: Oh, such a fine wit! Tell me, I pray you,
Was it from your tri-forked tongue that Gillette
Modeled its three-razored Mached blade?

Guildenstern: Hold your sarcasm and get thee to the
Kitchen! The hour is late, and our
Hungry Prince could upon our humble
Door soon arrive with a haughty appetite
Unaccustomed to wait.

Rosencrantz: Guildenstern, I do suppose you’re right.
So away to the kitchen I’ll fly, stage right.

Exits. Guildenstern’s cell phone rings. He answers

Guildenstern: Hello? Hey, Hamlet, how ya’ doing’? Uh-huh, yeah, cool, uh-huh, s-wee-et. No, no trouble at all. Have fun. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. OK. No, don’t worry about it; he’s in the kitchen. I’ll tell him. OK. Ciao. (hangs up) Hey, Rosencrantz!

Rosencrantz: (off-stage) Yeah?!

Guildenstern: Hamlet just called. He’s not coming.

Enter Rosencrantz

Rosencrantz: Not coming?

Guildenstern: Yeah. Says he’s got a date. Says he met some chick buying flowers on Frederiksberggade. Got some weird name, Iphalia or Hypolia or somethin’ like that.

Rosencrantz: As long as he’s OK. More for the two of us. Oh, you are sure that fish you got was fresh, right?

Guildenstern: Yeah. Why?

Rosencrantz: Oh, it’s nothin’. I thought they smelled kinda’ funny when I was puttin’em into the stew. It’s probably just this stuffed nose of mine.

Guildenstern. Good cousin, ‘tis time you to a specialist
Of ear, nose and throat an appointment make.
Too long has this pesky nasal blockage
Sour’d the rich fragrances of your delicious
Suppers. Speaking of which, is the stew almost done? I skipped lunch so I am really hungry.

Rosencrantz: Our platters should indeed ready to
Fill be out of the cupboard brought, for the
Long minutes obliged in which the full fish
Flavor permeates the stew have passed. My
Mother’s simple dish is not long, nor takes
It a Naked Chef to cook. All is mixed,
As all should always be, but in the right
Moment and order only do you let
Each of the ingredients the bubbling
Pot see. First the ancient triad: carrot,
Leek and onion do enter, and when their
Sautéed sound for the water calls, add it,
With tomato, herbs then wine, fish and season.
Once the broken stew has itself made one
Homogenous drink, let it sit and ponder,
But not too long. Common’. Go grab a couple a bowls while I turn on the movie channel.

Guildenstern: Cool. (exits and returns with bowls and spoons while Rosencrantz sits on the couch and flicks on the TV.) Man, this smells great! (they eat. After a few swallows, a loud gurgling noise from off-stage, pause, then another. Guildenstern puts down his bowl and clenches his stomach.) Zounds!

Rosencrantz: Guildenstern! What’s wrong?

Guildenstern: Oh sour potion! Oh stained sustenance!
I too late agree you rightly judged
Those funky-fragranced fish heads un-funny!

Rosencrantz: (…several loud gurgling noises. drops his bowl and begins holding his own stomach) 
Sweet Hecuba! This royal pain in my
Gut does of great waiting woe with vigor
Announce! This night shall not pass un-I
Modiumed, nor un-Charmined my wailing
Bottom cheeks will stay!

Guildenstern: Cousin, I precede
You to the American Standard resting
Behind the white door of tonight’s heaven.

Rosencrantz: Or hell’s blessing. Go, good cousin. But
Delay not thy terrible purpose, for
I, to, must shortly follow thee. (Guildenstern exits.) 
If this our unhappy supper’s end may to you a lesson start
Pause, no, rebel before partaking in stew of fish from Wal-of-Mart.

Exits. End recipe

The real recipe:  
1 leek
1 carrot
3-4 cloves of garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil
750 grams of mixed whitefish
1 cup of white wine
2 cups of fish broth
10 medium-sized shrimp or small scampi
15 mussels
1 medium-sized calamaro, chopped into finger-wide pieces
Fresh chopped parsley
Grated lemon rind
2 cans of cherry tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
serves 5
In a large pan, add some olive oil and then sauté some chopped carrot, leeks and garlic. After 2-3 minutes, add the cherry tomato sauce and a teaspoon of sugar, salt and fresh black pepper, a pinch of ground pepperoncino and then the wine and fish broth. After a minute or two, add the parsley, mix well, then the whitefish and sliced calamari. Spoon some of the sauce over the fish if it isn’t completely submerged, then immediately add the mussels and peeled shrimp or scampi. Once ready, after 4-5 minutes, serve immediately with thin slices of toasted bread flavored with garlic and a chilled, lightly structured white or rose table wine. Place about 15 napkins per person on the table. Trust me on this.
for a version of stewed physshe from Will’s time:

link: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Oldman and Roth)

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