Monday, November 05, 2007

A New Food Society.

November 5.

I wish to announce the formation of a new society, and invite you to join. It is “The Society of Abligurands”. Membership is free, meetings are held ad-hoc (but as frequently as possible, preferably at expensive restaurants), rules will be few (and are to be advised), and the only membership requirement is that one must be a regular practitioner of the art of abligurition, or have aspirations to be such a practitioner.

Abligurition is, according to the OED, ‘prodigal expense on meat and drink.’ It is derived, as I understand it, from various words which reference squandering on dainty articles of food, and licking (lips certainly, fingers possibly, but perhaps also plates?). The OED does not appear to include the word ‘abligurand’, but it most certainly should, and perhaps with sheer force of our numbers (I know there are more of you out there), perhaps it will at its next revision. You can be part of linguistic history as well as culinary, if you join now.

I eagerly await your enthusiastic participation, and in the meanwhile offer you the details of one of the most famously extravagant dishes ever made.

In 1850 in York, England, a Grand Banquet was given by the Mayor, as part of the promotion of the planned Great Exhibition. The guest of honour was Prince Albert (the mastermind behind the show), and the chef was the great Alexis Soyer. Soyer was known to spare none of his employer’s expense in preparing his great banquets, and really, when the point of this feast was propaganda, why would he?

Soyer outdid himself on this occasion. He came up with a dish that was referred to at the time as “l’extravagance culinaire à la alderman”, or “the hundred guinea dish”. To give it some perspective, one hundred guineas (₤105 and 5 shillings) is equivalent to US$17,368 or AUD$18,819 today.

The ingredient list read:

5 Turtle-heads, part of fins, and green fat.
24 Capons (the two small noix from each side of the middle of the back only used).
18 Turkeys, the same.
18 Poulardes, the same.
16 Fowls, the same.
10 Grouse
20 Pheasants, noix only.
45 Partridges, the same.
6 Plovers, whole.
40 Woodcocks, the same.
3 Dozen Quails, whole.
100 Snipes, noix only.
3 Dozen Pigeons, noix only.
6 Dozen Larks, stuffed.
Ortolans, from Belgium.
The garnish, consisting of cocks’-combs, truffles, mushrooms, crawfish, olives, American asparagues, croustades, sweetbreads, quenelles de volaille, green mangoes, and a new sauce.

The cost was explained thus:

“The expensiveness of the above is explained by the fact, that if an epicure were to order this dish only, he would be charged for the whole of the above-mentioned articles.”

Care to join?

We need to start work on the manifesto as soon as possible, so please send in your suggestions.

Tomorrow’s Story …

A Glutton, by any other name.

Quotation for the Day…

...The rapturous, wild, and inefable pleasure of drinking at someone else's expense. Henry Sambrook Leigh.

1 comment:

Rayne said...

This is a bit embarrassing but the thing that really caught my attention on the menu was the Snipes. When I was growing up and doing the camping thing, newbies were sent on Snipe hunts because, we were told, Snipes didn't exist. Apparently they do and they are edible, too.