Marie Antoinette Online Forum

Dining In 18th Century France
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Author:  jimcheval [ Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

Two descriptions available in English, this from Casanova, on Louis XV and his queen:
I reached a splendid room in which I saw several courtiers walking about,
and a table large enough for twelve persons, but laid out only for one.

"For whom is this table?"

"For the queen. Her majesty is now coming in."

It was the queen of France, without rouge, and very simply dressed; her
head was covered with a large cap; she looked old and devout. When she
was near the table, she graciously thanked two nuns who were placing a
plate with fresh butter on it. She sat down, and immediately the
courtiers formed a semicircle within five yards of the table; I remained
near them, imitating their respectful silence.

Her majesty began to eat without looking at anyone, keeping her eyes on
her plate. One of the dishes being to her taste, she desired to be helped
to it a second time, and she then cast her eyes round the circle of
courtiers, probably in order to see if among them there was anyone to
whom she owed an account of her daintiness. She found that person, I
suppose, for she said,

"Monsieur de Lowendal!"

At that name, a fine-looking man came forward with respectful
inclination, and said,

"Your majesty?"

"I believe this is a fricassee of chickens."

"I am of the same opinion, madam."

After this answer, given in the most serious tone, the queen continued
eating, and the marshal retreated backward to his original place. The
queen finished her dinner without uttering a single word, and retired to
her apartments the same way as she had come. I thought that if such was
the way the queen of France took all her meals, I would not sue for the
honour of being her guest.

I was delighted to have seen the famous captain who had conquered
Bergen-op-Zoom, but I regretted that such a man should be compelled to
give an answer about a fricassee of chickens in the serious tone of a
judge pronouncing a sentence of death.

And on Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI, from Arthur Young:

"The Ceremony of the King's dining in public is more odd than splendid."
The rest at

It was apparently the Count d'Hezecques, in his Memoires d'un Page, who said that Marie Antoinette only touched the food with her lips, and later ate privately.

Author:  jimcheval [ Fri May 01, 2009 6:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

Here's a little addition to the idea of reselling food, here from the nineteenth century. This passage tells the tale of a man who made his fortune by buying the leftover bread that had been thrown on the FLOOR of restaurants and reselling it. Beurk (as they say in France):;cc=moa;g=moagrp;xc=1;q1=bread;q2=Paris;op2=near;op3=near;rgn=full%20text;amt2=40;amt3=40;idno=abp6166.0001.001;didno=ABP6166.0001.001;view=image;seq=30;page=root;size=s;frm=frameset;

Author:  Marcel Champney [ Sat May 23, 2009 1:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

What a fascinating topic. I need to pick up a copy of the Gastronomy of France

Author:  Délicate fleur [ Sat May 23, 2009 10:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

I came across an interesting book at my library called "Feast: a history of grand eating" by Roy Strong (Jonathan Cape, 2002).

What occurs when we gather to dine? More than just eating, says Roy Strong, whose remarkable Feast: A History of Grand Eatingreviews sumptuous dining from ancient Greece to the present. What is discovered, again and again, is that "the meal, and everything connected with it has been, and still is, a vehicle for determining status and hierarchy--and also aspiration--no matter what pattern of society prevails." To illustrate, Strong takes readers on a journey that encompasses the banquets of ancient Rome, which, preceding their decadent excesses (Caligula liked dinner with decapitations), were models of civilized entertainment; to the Christian and Renaissance eras, a transformation of dining from symbolic ecclesiastical ritual to splendorous high-court ceremony; to a newly hierarchical world which, in counter-distinction to French Revolution commonalties, yielded the 19th and early 20th-century's defining status event, the dinner party; and finally to our own dispiriting time, in which the erosion of traditional forms has left us with TV-snacking, grazing, and the restaurant as surrogate rank-delineator, once society's task. review

Author:  Rosalie [ Sat Jul 18, 2009 2:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

Well yes, dining has always had an important social significance. Just think about the fact that, for instance, in ancient Greece the banquet was the place where politics was discussed and poetry found its privileged place of permormance (at least, for quite a long time). In Rome, as well, it was first of all a social event. In many cultures banqueting had also a religious significance, being connected with sacrifice.
And even now, during some particular feasts or celebrations, you can see how important it is for a family to gather around the table...

Author:  juliavaughan [ Fri May 08, 2015 6:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Dining In 18th Century France

I read your forum and I like that you share such great information.

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