Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Macaroon 5 - De Re Culinaria in Versailles

...or, more exactly, 1755 (MDCCLV), this is the year when this famous royal cookbook has seen the light so everyone who's anyone could potentially have the same food as the king and his court, if they could afford it, that is! And there weren't a lot of them from what I see from the recipes (truffles, salmons, cockscombs, sucking piglets, and I'll pass) that's probably why the book proudly carries the inscription "With the king's approval & privilege" - "Avec Approbation & Privilege du Roi".

We're in the full reign of Louis XV at the time, so one couldn't do many things without his royal approval, let alone writing a book! But Louis XV was also a great gourmand who distanced himself from the rigid dining etiquette imposed by his illustrious predecessor and used to invite his friends and mistresses to more informal dinner parties in his private apartments, where savory delicacies were served. Legend has it that sometimes he even prepared himself the hot chocolate that everyone was crazy about: cocoa was a scarce commodity so having it was a sign of distinction, not to mention the fact that it had a reputation of being an aphrodisiac! I was wondering who spread the word...

Macaroon recipe, from the old cookbook, after the jump...

 The book name is "The court suppers or the art of transforming all kinds of aliments in order to serve the best tables, according to the four seasons", written by Menon and it contains all the food knowledge gathered from generations of exquisite cooking experience at the court. I could personally use some of the wisdom in it, after ruining five batches of Parisian macaroons of my own, because I'm too stubborn to do it without weighing the ingredients of the recipe. And every pâtissier knows that I should change the batteries of my kitchen scale ASAP!

So here you go, the recipe of macaroons, 1755 style:


They are done by grinding sweet almonds; you can add a few bitter almonds if you wish to; in order for them not to turn into oil, you can sprinkle them, while grinding, with a little orange flower water & fine sugar; when they are ground, you put them in a terrine with as much weight of fine sugar and whipped egg whites; four are needed for a pound of almonds & a pound of sugar; whip everything together & lay your macaroons on paper & bake them in a mild stove; you will take them out when they will get a golden color; when they are baked, for a change, you can decorate with white frosting; they are more of use served plain"

pages 247-248, "Les Soupers de la Cour ou l'Art de travailler toutes sortes d'aliments pour servir les meilleurs tables suivant les quatre saisons" by Menon, 1755

Life was so much simpler back then!...

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