[GASTRONOMY]: [LOUIS XIV] (1638-1715) King of France 1643-1715. An extraordinarily remarkable and detailed manuscript notebook entitled Estat et menu g[e]n[er]al de la Depence ordinaire de la chambre aux deniers du Roy, annee 1694 (i.e. the status and general menu of the King’s private rooms for the year 1694) compiled by a member of the Royal household of King Louis XIV charged with the responsibility of keeping accounts and records for the menus and gastronomic expenses associated with Le Grand Couvert and other meals. Penned in a small, neat and attractive hand the manuscript runs to over 160 pages and commences with a list of the status of persons who must and have the right to eat at the King’s table, as well as other named tables, followed by different ‘menus’ (that of bread, and of wine) and then details of the meals provided for the different private tables, including that of the King (remembering that his menus were only ‘for one’), ‘Menu de la table du roi de deux plats, deux assiettes et cinq services et hors d'oeuvre. Bouillon du dejeuner: Un chapon vieilli, 4 livres de boeuf, 4 livres de veau, 4 livres de mouton....Diners, potages: 2 chapons vieillis pour potage de sante, 4 perdrix aux choux. Petits potages: 6 pigeonneaux.....4 petits potages hors d'oeuvre: un chapon hache, une perdrix aux morilles, 3 poulets....un chapon por potage au blanc. Entree: Un quartier de veau et une piece autour, le tout 20 livres, 12 pigeons pour tourtes. 2 petites entrees: 6 poulets fricasses, 2 perdrix en hachis. 6 petites entrees hors d'oeuvre: 3 perdrix au jus, 6 tourtes a la braise, 2 dindons grilles, 3 poulets aux truffes, 4 perdreaux, 2 poulardes depecees aux truffes’ (Translation: ‘Menu of the King’s table of two courses, two plates and five courses and appetizers. Breakfast broth: an aged capon, 4lbs of beef, 4lbs of veal, 4lbs of mutton…..Dinners, soups: 2 aged capons for healthy soup, 4 partridges with cabbage. Small soups: 6 young pigeons….4 small soup appetizers: a minced capon, a partridge with morels, 3 chickens….a capon for white soup. Appetizer: A quarter of veal and a piece around it, in all 20lbs, 12 pigeons for pies. 2 small appetizers: 6 chicken fricassee, 2 minced partridges. 6 small appetizers: 3 partridge au jus, 6 charcoal-grilled pies, 2 grilled turkeys, 3 chickens with truffles, 4 partridges, 2 skinned chickens with truffles’) as well as the Grand Maitre de France, Henri Jules, Prince of Conde (which are no less copious) the Chamberlain, the Chaplains, the Valets de chambre, and various other courtiers and special servants etc., ‘Aux deux tapissiers: 8 livres de mouton; au Bidau, horloger: un chapon, au boulanger: 8 livres de veau, 4 livres de boeuf’ (Translation: ‘To the two upholsterers: 8lbs of mutton; to Bidau, watchmaker: a capon; to the baker: 8lbs of veal, 4lbs of beef’), also detailing different menus for ‘fish days’, for the soups ‘Une carpe de pied, un cent d'ecrevisses......un cent d'huitres’ (Translation: ‘A foot carp, a hundred crayfish….a hundred oysters’) and for the fillets ‘demi grand saumon, 6 soles, un grand brochet’ (Translation: ‘half a large salmon, 6 soles, a large pike’) and further specifying the smallest details of the distribution of bread and wine, precisely quantified, ‘Aux trompettes de la chambre: dix pains, 2 quartiers de vin de table, 4 gibiers, 16 livres de veau et de mouton, 2 livres de lard’ (Translation: ‘To the trumpeters of the chambre: ten loaves, 2 quarters of table wine, 4 game, 16lbs of veal and mutton, 2lbs of bacon’) although other musicians are not treated equally, the oboist receiving ‘une poule d’Inde, un lapin, un chapon’ (Translation: ‘a hen, a rabbit, a capon’) and the pipers are entitled to veal, mutton and bacon, whilst the jesters and actors seem to be the worst off, and are not entitled to meat. The manuscript also provides a record of the cakes and excellent wine which are distributed on certain commemorative days and at numerous festivals, as well as the expenses involved, and towards the conclusion there are also records of the special menus provided for the King’s confessor, or the preacher when he is in attendance to preach to the King, as well as that which is offered to the Brigade of Musketeers, the King’s bodyguard when he is on campaign, and even a note of ‘les biscuits qui se delivrent par jour a la Chambre pour les petits chiens du roi’ (Translation: ‘the biscuits which are delivered daily to the Chamber for the King’s little dogs’). The 12mo manuscript is contemporarily bound in brown calfskin leather with gilt borders and finial decorations to the corners, the spine with five raised bands, gilt title and decoration, and marbled endpapers. With the ownership signature of A. Simonetty (‘Ex libris A. Simonetty’) to the front free endpaper. A truly meticulous manuscript providing a wonderfully fascinating insight into the gastronomic activities of the Royal household of King Louis XIV. VG King Louis XIV was a gourmet who adhered to the convention and ceremony of Le Grand Couvert (‘The Great Serving’) on a daily basis. At 10pm the great public meal was served in the antechamber of the King at Versailles and was very much regarded as being symbolic of the power he held. Royal dinners meant that the King would sit and eat, and the members of the royal family and courtiers stood and watched the deed (although female members of the royal family were permitted to be seated, but little else). From time to time the Sun King would invite his family or a few guests and courtiers to join him at the meal, however all plates were cleared once the King indicated that he was done, regardless of whether the rest of the diners had finished their meals.
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