Today, August 3rd …
On this stupendous momentous memorable day in 1950 in France, the constitution of “The Confrerie de la Châine des Rotisseurs” was registered.
So what? Good question.
Well, the event did represent the re-establishment of a society that was founded in 1248 and lasted until it fell victim to the Revolution in 1791 - surely a laudable idea on basic historical principles alone? Admittedly the original society was that of Masters in the Art of Roasting Geese – although at a pinch I suppose, this could be classed as a Gastronomic Society. Certainly the aim of the Châine is to promote all aspects of gastronomy “in its broadest sense” (evening dress, chains round necks, no salt and pepper on the tables), which is also laudable. And without doubt the chief instigator was a man worthy of honouring in his own right. He was Maurice Edmond Sailland, better known by his pen-name of “Curnonsky”, publicly honoured as “The Prince of Gastronomes”, and so famous and influential in his time that it is said that 80 restaurants in Paris would hold a table every night, in the hope of his patronage.
But what about The Food? The planning began when five men (of course) - Curnonsky, two other well-known gastronomes, and two professional chefs, got together over dinner at Easter 1950. So, what would five gastronomes chose to eat, when (presumably) chef, venue and money were no object? Highly fashionable, cutting edge cuisine? The 1950’s equivalent of Molecular Gastronomy?
No. Absolutely, and completely reassuringly, NO. They ate Gigot à la Broche, a dish with historic roots so deep that even though the word is acknowledged to be French the origin is unknown. How elegantly appropriate is that?
There are many old recipes for jigget, gigget, jigot, geegot - here is a delicious-sounding one from Gervase Markham’s “English Housewife …” (1615)
To Roast a Gigget of Mutton.
To roast a Gigget of Mutton which is the legge splatted and halfe part of the loine together; you shall after it is washt, stop it with cloves, so spit it, and lay it to the fir, and tend it well with basting: Then you shall take vinegar butter and currants, and set them on the fire in a dish or pipkin; then when it boiles you shall put in sweete herbs finely chopt, with the yelke of a couple of egges, and so let them boile together; then the meat being half roasted, you shall pare of some part of the leanest and brownest, then shred it small and put it into the Pipkin also; then season it up with sugar, cinamon, ginger, and salt, and so put it into a cleane dish: the draw the Gigget of Mutton and lay it on the sauce, and throw salt on the top, and so serve it up.
Tomorrow: Crimea Cooking (changed to 'A Huge Pie')
Quotation for the Day …
Good cooking is when things taste of what they are. Curnonsky.