Monday, March 07, 2011

The Other Chartreuse.

I am tempted by a good liqueur or two this week, and I am going to start with Chartreuse. The name of this yellow/green liqueur name tells its origins very simply, for it is said to have been developed in the Maison Chartreuse – the monastery of the Carthusian monks - in Grenoble, France. Orders of monks have been responsible for many classic liqueurs because many of them began as distillations of medicinal herbs – and herb gardens and medicine preparation was an important function of religious orders in medieval times. It is said that the Carthusian monks of Grenoble have been making this liqueur since the 1740’s – but I suspect that they had in fact been making it for a very long time, but the ‘branding’ and commercial marketing dates from this era. So many stories to research, and so little research time…..

What I have been unable to fathom is the connection between religious orders and the ‘other’ chartreuse, which the Oxford English Dictionary gives as ‘an ornamental dish of meat or vegetables cooked in a mould’, and also ‘fruits enclosed in blancmange or jelly.’

The first citation given for this meaning of chartreuse in English is from John Simpson’s A Complete System of Cookery (1806). It is for a Chartreuse of Roots and Sausages, which I was going to make the recipe for the day, until I realised that in the past we have had recipes for Chartreuse of Mutton and Chartreuse, or Casserole, of Fish. Instead, I give you Chartreuse of Apples and Fruit, from The French Cook, (1822) by Louis Eustache Ude, because we should have a recipe from a Frenchman – and he explains the method in detail, which is useful.

Chartreuse of Apples and Fruit.
A Chartreuse is the same thing as a suédoise, only instead of raising the fruit with the hand over the marmalade, you oil a mould of the same size as the dish you intend to use, and arrange symmetrically fruit of different colours, such as angelica, preserved oranges, lemons, &c. in short, whatever may offer a variety of colours. Apples and pears are in more general use for the outside, but then they must be dyed as directed above, No. 3*. When you have decorated the middle or bottom, proceed to decorate the sides. Next use some thick marmalade of apples to consolidate the decorations. When you have made a wall sufficiently strong that you may turn the Chartreuse upside down, take the whitest apple jelly you can procure, some stewed pears cut into slices the size of a half-crown piece, and some cherries, &c. and mix the whole with the jelly, so as to represent a Macedoine. Do not fill the cavity too full with the miroton, as you are to close it with apple-marmalade that has more substance in it. Then turn over the Chartreuse and dish it. Glaze the fruit over with some thick syrup. This syrup gives additional lustre to the colours, and a fresh gloss to the fruit.

* To dye them you need only dilute with syrup a little carmine or saffron; and give them a boil. Next let the apples cool in the syrup, that the colour may be spread equally over them.

Quotation for the Day.

Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.
Ogden Nash


Marcheline said...

You did say a good liquor "or two"... was the second Absinthe, by any chance?

I am entranced by Absinthe and all its accoutrements, although I have not had the chance to actually try any yet.

And that is the only reason I have not yet purchased an Absinthe ice water fountain... they are expensive, and it would be silly to the point of extravagance if indeed I end up hating the taste of Absinthe!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Marcheline. I seem to have gotten distracted from my liqueur series! I did a story on absinthe some time ago. It is at
Hope you like it