Marie Antoinette Online Forum

18th Century Cook Book
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Author:  Ray [ Sat Aug 09, 2008 6:57 am ]
Post subject:  18th Century Cook Book

I think it would be very interesting to know some of the dishes that Louis and Marie actually ate and how to prepare them.

Author:  DreamersRose [ Thu Aug 21, 2008 2:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

You know, I have seen drawings of dishes of the French court in the 18th Century. I believe it was on the old Versailles Web site before they changed it. It had a section on the food. Any rate, the "dishes" were enormous, not the plates, but the food piled on them. They looked like a topiary with crayfish, shrimp, and so on piled in tiers. I also read a book not long ago called Taste, which chronicled the history of food in England. English and French food were very different in their preparation, but by the 18th Century, French food was crossing the channel.

For the most part, people ate only meat and seafood. Vegetables were relegated to decorative elements. Dishes of food were placed strategically all over the table, with a large bird or roast at either end, and medium to small dishes filled all the spaces around. Food was not passed, either by the diner or by servants. You could only eat what you could reach. If you wanted some of the goose and it was at the other end of the table, you were out of luck. There were several courses, but they all were meat or fish. The table was completely set with food before the diners sat down. Birds we would never think of eating like swan, blackbirds, and sparrows were also served. Game (the nobles were always hunting) was popular.

Late in the 18th Century dinner "a la Russe" became popular. This is the dinner we know of: soup, salad, entree, and dessert. Food was passed and servants served it. The French popularized sauces, and they were used a lot. Glazes and aspics were also used. Sometimes a whole fish would be glazed with aspic.

The English loved marzipan, but I don't know about the French. Nuts, raisins, and dates were also popular and were served right along with the meat. Chocolate also became popular, but it was an unsweetened drink, not a candy. Sugar was too expensive to make the kind of candy we have today, even for royalty. Price may not have been an object, but scarcity was.

All of this applies to royalty and the noble classes. Ordinary people mainly ate bread, cheese, and root vegetables.

Most people drank water with a little wine in it because the water tasted too bad by itself. The French drank more wine than the English of course, but Madeira was popular everywhere in the 18th Century. Tea and coffee were available, and the common people drank beer and ale.

Author:  Ray [ Sun Aug 24, 2008 6:41 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Thank you so much DreamersRose! You have really provided us all with some very valuable information. Fascinating. Did the practice of serving courses then originate in Russia or did it just come to France by way of Russia? Also, do you know anything about eighteenth century Viennese cuisine and what Marie might have eaten and drank while growing up there? You are so helpful and I thank you!


Author:  DreamersRose [ Mon Aug 25, 2008 1:30 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Hi, there, Atlanta! We used to live there, and it's definitely my favorite city. Melanie Wilkes is my favorite, too.

But I digress. I don't know anything about the Viennese court or its food. I am sure there are records, and it would be nice if authors included details like that so we could go "eeeew" or "sumptuous!". I don't know for sure whether the idea of courses came from Russia, but I believe that book I mentioned said it did. Marie Antoinette probably drank water flavored with wine. Other than the heavy drinkers, that's what most royalty drank. I've run into that in countless books. I guess the authors wanted to make the point that they weren't alcoholics. Of course, the reason they poured wine in the water was because of the disgusting quality of the water.

18th Century recipes are available on-line if you search for them, but I don't recall if they are specifically French. Cokie Roberts, in her books Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty includes recipes, one for dressing a calf's head. Most of the recipes wouldn't appeal to us today, and these recipes are definitely American. I don't think the Europeans used cornmeal in the 18th Century, but it was a staple back in the colonies. Martha Washington's receipt book is also still around. You would recognize some of the vegetables - artichokes, peas, and asparagus have been around since Roman times.

That's a good place to stop. I could go on and on about the history of food.

Author:  DreamersRose [ Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Ray, here's a link that provides recipes claimed to have been served to Marie Antionette:

At least one of the recipes is suspect, though, because it includes tomato sauce. Tomatoes are a New World vegetable and were thought to be poisonous well into the 19th Century. The leaves and vine actually are poisonous, so everyone assumed the fruit was, too.

Author:  Ray [ Mon Aug 25, 2008 2:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Thank you so much for responding in such a sweet and helpful way! Hello from Atlanta DreamersRose! The city is getting too big, but it is still happy and real, as always... I spent a very long time in the middle East and I swear it has taken me three years to detox. Just being here surrounded by the warmth of the people and their happy smiling faces, so courteous and without ulterior motives. After being abroad for so long, I began to wilt. I had to come home to get recharged and get my power back, which I have, Thank God. Soon, I will be able to take off again, but only after I have finished this book and never permanently. Thank you DreamersRose for the link also. I have bookmarked it and will use it. Thank you again!

With a smile and a twinkle in the eye,

Author:  jimcheval [ Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:57 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

At least one of the recipes is suspect, though, because it includes tomato sauce.

Hmmm... Chiming in a bit late here, but, first of all, nice to see my site cited. I agree, basically, with the caveat about tomato sauce, though a search on that part of my site didn't show that ingredient for any recipe specifically listed for Marie-Antoinette. Should it have somehow slipped in somewhere, I would emphasize that I dug the recipes up from various sources, guided by the menu (which is widely cited and apparently genuine). (I.e., should you find anything, blame me, not the menu :) )

This said, Alan Davidson gives 1750 as the first mention of tomatoes in England, and Beauvilliers' 1814 cookbook "L'Art du Cuisinier" lists a sauce using that ingredient.

I've considered creating a printed version of the Marie-Antoinette menu, with accompanying recipes. But for now the closest thing I've put in book form is a model 18th century meal, offered under the title "Après Moi, Le Dessert: A French Eighteenth Century Model Meal". Anyone who makes even half the dishes in that volume may be grateful I've (so far) limited myself to translating the 16 dishes of ONE course* of M-A's meal.

Jim Chevallier
North Hollywood, CA

*Strictly speaking, a "service" - this may be one of the few venues on the Web where someone cares about the distinction.

Author:  Sillage de la Reine [ Tue Oct 21, 2008 5:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

^^^ I have that book Apres Moi, Le Dessert. Did you really translate that book? I haven't even gotten started yet, it seems a little difficult because I'm only a beginner in the cooking/culinary department. I wish there were pictures, so I can get an idea of what it'll look like. Have you ever tried any of these recipes or replicated the model meal? They all seem delicious and will love to try it someday. Oh btw, welcome to Marie Antoinette Online.

Author:  jimcheval [ Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Sillage de la Reine wrote:
Did you really translate that book?

Translated and compiled, actually. The original cookbook that gave the menu rather perversely doesn't provide recipes for all the suggested dishes, so I had to dig them up from a variety of sources (as I am now doing for another).

No, I haven't replicated the model meal (I'm more of a researcher/translator than a cook). In fact, I've considered contributing a few copies to various cooking schools in hopes they'd be inspired to take on that (rather daunting) task. Some of the recipes are far simpler than others, or - like the oille (olio) - are more onerous for the number of ingredients than any refinement of culinary technique.

Oh, and truffles were cheap in the 18th century, so many recipes blandly suggest them as an ingredient. I have this fantasy of getting Donald Trump involved in overcoming that particular obstacle. :)

I was amused by the way to see that sometime after the book came out, a Romanian blogger adopted the name for his (?) culinary blog.

Thanks for your purchase!

Author:  jimcheval [ Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

A friend has started reviewing a draft of my sequel to the above-mentioned book and pointed out that one recipe says to boil a bouillon for six hours - which, she says, is a culinary no-no. First I verified the original French, which does indeed say to boil, but to boil over a low flame - in other words, in fact, to simmer.

One could probably write a short but substantial essay on the history of this concept and its expression in French cuisine. When I translated a medieval cookbook, I struggled with the word "souffrire", which today means suffer, but here seemed to result from a composite word - "sous-frire", that is, to under-fry. In practice, this seems to be the word for "simmer", since the modern word - mijoter - is absent from the book. And in fact further research shows that neither that word nor its alternate spelling migeoter appear in cookbooks before mid-century.

My impression then is that when earlier sources wanted to say "simmer", they simply said to boil over a low (or a "slow") flame. Which of course is confusing to a modern cook.

I've just encountered this issue, so there might be more to say. But for now, if you're using period recipes, you might want to be careful about how the word "boil" is qualified - in some cases, it clearly means to simmer.

PS. For those who delight in this kind of thing, the modern word seems to derive - via its alternate spelling - from a regionalism for "to ripen", itself taken from a place where apples were stored for that purpose:

dér. de l'anc. subst. migoe «lieu où l'on conserve les fruits» (ca 1350, ROQUES t.1, IV, 6554), migeot «id.» (Maine, Anjou), qui est lui-même une var. de musjoe, musgot «id.» (d'où magot1*), prob. issu d'un germ. *musgauda dont le premier élém. mus peut être rapproché du flam. muize «souris», cf. muizegote «cachette pour les pommes, etc.»,;s=4027544715;cat=2;m=migeoter;

Author:  jimcheval [ Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: 18th Century Cook Book

Hmmm.... Not to promote a competitor, but... :)

Having (self) published two historical cookbooks (and being about to publish a third), I was browsing some others on-line and found this rather promising work:
"Cooking With Jane Austen"

No, it's not (zut!) French, but it is the same period, and it seems to be rather charmingly done. Worth an on-line browse, anyway.

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