Monday, March 27, 2006

A gay rugby dinner.

Today, Monday March 27th …

The Welsh rugby team were entertained at dinner in the Hotel Lutetia in Paris on this day in 1957, during the Five Nations competition. The dinner was as would be expected from such a fine venue, but the actual paper menu has a most unexpected phrase on the reverse. Above a drawing which could conceivably demonstrate two players holding hands, are the words “gay rugby”. It meant that they were “light-hearted, exuberantly cheerful, sportive, merry”?

Le Saumon de l’Adour au Champagne
Le Carré d’Agneau Périgourdine
Les Bouquets de Primeurs
Le Chaud-Froid de Vollaile Rose de Mai
Coeurs de Laitues Mimosa
Le Plateau de Fromage
L’Ananas Voilé a l’Orientale
Les Friandises

Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume 1954
Chateau Montrose Saint-Estephe1954
Mercurey Clos du Roi 1953
Le Taittinger Blanc de Blanc 1950
Café, Liqueurs

March 27th was also the anniversary of the very first international rugby game in 1871, which took place between England and Scotland in Edinburgh. There is no record of an associated dinner, but surely there was one?

The Baron Brisse, an impoverished French aristocrat who earned a living by becoming probably the first food journalist, wrote a book called “366 menus and 1200 recipes” in 1868. For March 27th, his suggested menu was:

Potage à la purée de pois.
Morue à la maître d’hôtel
Côtelletes de mouton sauce tomates
Pâté de bécassines
Macédoine de légumes en salade
Soupirs de nonne

His recipe for “Soupirs de nonne” (Nun’s sighs) seems to be a ridiculous choice for what started out as a rugby theme, so here it is:

Nun’s sighs.
Warm a lump of butter the size of a walnut, a lump of sugar, a little lemon-peel, and a pinch of salt in a tumblerful of water, let it boil over two or three times; stir in some flour until it becomes a thick paste, and continue stirring until it is cooked, which you can tell, if the paste does not stick to your finger; leave it in the saucepan until cold, then stir in one egg at a time until it is thin enough to drop out of a spoon. Take a dessert spoon and drop lumps of the paste about the size of a walnut into lard which is not quite boiling, take out when swollen to four times their original size and of a golden colour. Sprinkle with sugar and serve hot; they are also nice cold.

[The Baron also goes on to say “The flavouring can be varied by omitting the lemon-peel and stirring in a little orange-flower water with the first egg.”, but that would take me far over my allowed word-count, so please dont try the variation.]
Tomorrow: Death in the Pot.


Anonymous said...

Your blog is delicious! Consider me a regular around here.

The Old Foodie said...

Thanks Deborah, I've put you on my email list, but of course you can read the posts here, and check up to see if I have added anything else - I think it might be a quotation of the day next.

Anonymous said...

Actually, by it's correct name, rather than the bowdlerised name used in this source, it's very suitable for a rugby party. The dish's real name is "pets de nonne" - nun's farts