Today, March 8th …
The King of France, Louis XIII spent his first night in his new hunting lodge in the forest about 20 kilometres from Paris on this night in 1624. Over the following century and beyond a series of additions and improvements created a grand palace out of this modest little hunting lodge.
It is Versailles of course, a building that has been host to some of the most significant historic events of Europe as well as some of the most lavish over-the-top feasts and entertainments ever held anywhere in the world. Most of the additions (and entertainments) were ordered by Louis XIII’s son and descendant, the ‘Sun King’ Louis XIV, who found lots to do there during his 72 year reign. The palace was a favourite of his wife Marie Antoinette and we have previously looked at one of the dinners she enjoyed there in 1788 – a modest little dinner, as things went in those days. Perhaps there were not so many royal paparazzi hanging around for a free feed that day.
In its life as a little hunting lodge in the forest of Versailles a century and a half earlier the catering facilities were presumably not so sophisticated as Marie-Antoinette’s entertaining required. In recognition of this earlier, simpler life I give you a couple of easy recipes for cooking the produce of the hunt. All you need is a fire, a turnspit (and a boy to turn it), and of course that essential member of every hunting party, a saucier (sauce chef.)
From the 1653 translation of The French Cook, by François Pierre de la Varenne:
Young Wildboare, or Grice.
Take off the skinne as farre as the head, dress it, and whiten it on the fire, cut off the four feet, stick it with lardons, and put in the body of it one bay leaf, or some fine herbs; when it is rosted, serve.
Loyne of Stagge.
Take off all the skinnes, stick it, and spit it, serve with a Poivrade.
The Fillet is done up like the Loyne withPouvrade.
The Loine of Roebuck is also done the same way.
The sauce called Poivrade is made with vinegar, salt, onion, or chibols, orange, or lemon peele, and peper, seeth it, and serve it under that meat, for which it is fitting.
Tomorrow’s Story …
The Great Pastry War
A Previous Story for this Day …
Picnics à la Wind in the Willows and Mrs Beeton were the topic of the day.
Quotation for the Day …
The French are not rude. They just happen to hate you. But that is no reason to bypass this beautiful country, whose master chefs have a well-deserved worldwide reputation for trying to trick people into eating snails. Nobody is sure how this got started. Probably a couple of French master chefs were standing around one day, and they found a snail, and one of them said: "I bet that if we called this something like `escargot,' tourists would eat it." Then they had hearty laugh, because "escargot" is the French word for "fat crawling bag of phlegm." Dave Barry.