MARK HAERINGER, age 10 months, is making faces as the fizz from the sparking Vouvray touches his lips. But he opens his mouth after each sip, looking for more. Mark has a love-hate relationship with sparkling wines.
Madeline Haeringer, age 3, is hopping around the kitchen. She doesn't want to sit down to eat the stew. She doesn't like the stew.
Grandpa Francois Haeringer demands crackers to go with the garlic dip. He doesn't like the crudites.
Jacques Haeringer, father of Mark and Madeleine, son of Francois, is attempting to bring order out of chaos. "Let's eat!" he keeps saying. "It's going to get cold."
He turns to a guest and apologizes. "It's usually not this disorganized . . . it's usually worse!"
True to his role as head chef, a trade he plies at L'Auberge Chez Francois, his father's restaurant in Great Falls, Va., when Jacques can't find something in the kitchen he asks someone else, in this case his wife, Evelyn. Except that he calls her by her maiden surname: "Hey, Harrison, where's the spoon, knife, goblets . . .
Through it all, Evelyn Haeringer remains at the center of the storm, completely calm; as does her mother-in-law Marie Antoinette.
It's family night at the Haeringers. Three generations of them are gathered at the younger Haeringer's small brick Cape Cod house with its farmhouse kitchen and pot-bellied stove in the living room. It is, as Jacques points out, modestly furnished. "Have you noticed our Louis Quatorze TV stand," he asks, indicating the two vegetable crates on which the television rests.
The Haeringers usually get together for dinner on Mondays when the restaurant is closed, but most of the time they go to a Chinese restaurant. When they do gather at the younger Haeringer's home, they eat in the kitchen. This gives both Jacques and his father plenty of opportunity to tell Evelyn how she should fix the dinner.
"They try to enlighten and educate my plate," she says with a wry smile. But she is unable to finish her thought as Jacques and his father get into an exchange about how something should be done.
The Haeringers are a warm, vociferous family who rarely stand on ceremony with each other, with or without company present.
Monday night dinner is always very simple. "Who wants a sauce on Monday," Jacques say. He's 30, but his Alsatian surname is misleading. He was born in Alaska, where his father had gone following a stint in Washington after World War II. Evelyn usually prepares dinner the day before so she can have Monday free to be with Jacques, who is seldom home, other days. She insists she can't cook, does what she can "by trial and error."
But she has very strong opinions about what the children ought to be eating, which leads Francois Haeringer, whom she calls papa, to complain about the lack of salt in the chicken and vegetable stew. "Do we have a little salt," he wants to know.
"We don't put salt in it. It isn't good for Mark," Evelyn explains.
"I like a little salt," Francois insists and someone gets it.
Jacques says he thinks "everyone is careful about what they eat these days."
"I am not," his father says with Gallic emphasis.
The younger Haeringers attitude toward diet and health are clearly part of the '70's attitude in this country. They are "down on sugar", drink no coffee, preferring herb teas. "Sugar isn't bad for you, per se," Jacques says. "But if you've got sugar in everything -- sugar in vegetables in the main course, in your drinks, in all prepared food, instead of just sugar in desserts -- then you get sugar up to here."
His concerns seem far removed from those of the typical French chef. Part of this is his wife's influence. She keeps dried fruit for the children "in easy reach, while the cookies are way up high. The raw vegetables are down low in the refrigerator, along with the champagne," she kids.
At the same time Madeline eats and enjoys liver, sweetbreads and fish stew. Evelyn thinks that may be why Madeline's friends prfer to come to play after lunch. Madeline already looks with disdain on her peer's idea of lunch -- a cheese or peanut butter sandwich. "That's not lunch," she tolder her mother, "that's a snack."
That younger Haeringers met in English class at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Jacques was certain he did not want to go into his father's business, having worked since he was 12 at the restaurant, which was then downtown and called Chez Francoise. But things change, and in 1973 Jacques went off to France to work with his father's relatives in their butcher shop in Alsace, in a friend's bakery and catering shop in Paris and in several restuarants. He had trouble convincing anyone he was serious. "I was 22. I was much too old to apprentice. They thought it was a trip. They said my hands are too white."
Today, Francoise has turned over the operation of the restaurant almost completely to his oldest son. His two younger ones are also working there. Francois says he just wants to cut meat, and let Jacques have all the headaches. He has been in the restaurant business for 45 years, owning his own place since 1952.
When he was the chef, the menu had strong overtones of his native Alsatian cooking. Today, while there are always Alsatian dishes on the menu, it is constantly changing. There is greater emphasis on lighter dishes, reflecting Jacques' belief that people are more careful about what they eat and his training with younger French chefs.
One day there may be another generation of Haeringers in the L'Auberge kitchen. At age 3, Madeline can already make chocolate chip cookies. But sometime between the now and the day she becomes the restaurant's chef she is going to have to learn that it's a compliment when people want seconds or thirds of what she makes. Right now, it makes her cry as she sees her supply dwindling. CHICKEN STEW (6 servings) 2 chickens (3 to 3 1/2 pounds each) 3 stalks celery, diced 2 onions, diced 6 carrots, diced 2 teaspoons rosemary 2 teaspoons thyme 2 bay leaves 4 cloves 1 cup brown rice 4 large potatoes, diced 2 turnips, diced Salt and pepper to taste
Cut off drumsticks and wings. Debone the chicken carcass. Cover the carcasses with 6 cups cold water. Add celery, onions, 2 of the carrots and the spices. Simmer for 1 hour. Remove the carcasses. Add the chicken meat and the rice; 50 minutes later add the potatoes and the remaining carrots. Five minutes later add the turnips and continue to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes longer, or until the chicken and rice are cooked. ONION TARTE (6 servings) One 9-inch baked pie crust 1/2 cup butter 6 cups chopped onions 2 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon cumin 3 eggs 3/4 cup sour cream
In hot butter saute' onions over medium heat until they are golden. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and cumin. In small bowl beat eggs with sour cream until thoroughly mixed. Add onions and mix. Pour into pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes, or until filling is set. BEET AND MUSHROOM SALAD (6 servings) 2 jars (16 ounces each) sliced beets 10 large mushrooms sliced 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard pinch salt 4 tablespoons oil 2 tablespoons vinegar Bean sprouts
Drain the liquid from the beets and refrigerate the beets for 3 hours or longer. Clean the mushrooms. Chop and mix with the beets. Combine the mustard with the salt. Then add the oil and vinegar and whisk. Just before serving pour the dressing over the beets and mushrooms. Top each serving with a handful of sprouts. CORNMEAL MUFFINS (Makes 1 dozen) 1 cup cornmeal 1 cup flour 1/4 cup sugar 4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup milk 1 egg 1/4 cup butter, very soft
Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, egg and butter. Beat until smooth. Spoon batter into 12 medium-size, greased muffin cups. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm. Madeleine's Cookies (Makes 3 to 3 1/2 dozen) 1 cup softened butter 3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs 2 1/4 cups flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 cup chopped walnuts 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
Beat butter, sugars and vanillia until creamy. Beat in eggs, Mix in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and chocolate. Drop by heaping teaspoon onto greased cookie sheets, 2 inches apart and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes, or until golden on top and bottom are browned.