Under Louis XIV, the menus were sumptuous. The
receptions and feasts were governed by a complicated ceremonial and
strict protocol. The dishes which figured in the five obligatory
courses may not have been as refined and sophisticated as they would
become a century later, but they certainly were copious and varied.
- 168 garnished dishes in all.” ( Montagné,1965, P. 618)
meat on a spit, served with oranges and lemons (mutton, quails, capons,
pheasants, rabbits, roebuck, veal, pigeons, swans, chickens, beef,
- Pâtés : venison, ham, turkey and other meat, freshwater fish. Fricassée of turtle.
- Various vegetables, salads, cheeses.
Mousse tart, apple tart, cream flan, morbeque cream, green walnuts,
pâté of pears, fennel in sugar, sugared almonds, and much more.
XIV imposed the use of forks at his court. Previously, only knives and
spoons were used. Napkins were changed every two courses.Samples
of this kind of menu, called the bill of fare or escriteau, can be
found in the archives of major cities. Most of them are no more than
accounts of the money spent on food. One wonders if all the Royals
suffered from chronic indigestion, or if they knew of some magic
potions to help them endure such abuse.After
dinner, Fouquet’s guests strolled through the park to enjoy the cool
evening. The air was filled with fragrance from lemon and bay trees and
the many flowers which adorned the gardens. They must have lingered
near the graceful fountains and cascades where water gushed out of
shells, fishes and masks. Fouquet and the events of the day were
without doubt the topic of conversations.What
a feast for the eyes it must have been–not only the harmonious and
soothing beauty of the magnificent park, but also the flamboyant
elegance of the guests.At the
time, France was the fashion center of Europe. Louis XIV liked brightly
colored clothes and did not permit anyone to wear black, or dark
colors. Women’s dresses were made of heavy velvet, silk or satin. They
opened in the front to reveal richly decorated panels. Rows of lace
edged the sleeves and collars. Men’s costumes were lavishly embellished
with an exaggerated display of bows, tassels and lace. Petitcoat
breeches, fashionable in mid-century, were worn tied under the knee
with ribbons. The short jacket was open to display a white silk shirt
whose cuffs were edged with layers of lace and ruffles. Silk stockings
of all colors and high-heeled shoes decorated with a large bow
completed this rather effeminate costume. Pearls, jewels and bows
graced the hair of the ladies and the men wore long curly wigs,
cascading over their shoulders.
that night seems to have been produced by a magic wand. Walking into
the park centuries later, one can’t help but evoke the echoes of the
sumptuous affair which was to be Fouquet’s farewell party.
The Encyclopedia of Food, Wine & Cookery.(p.94).USA: Crown
publishers,Inc. Yardwood, D.(1982).European Costume 4000 Years of
Fashion.New York: Crown Publishers.
Del Vecchio is a French citizen residing in the United States, and is a
registered nurse in both countries, specializing in psychiatry. As a
daughter and wife of career military men, she has lived extensively
throughout Europe, Africa, and the USA. Now retired, Ms. Del Vecchio
enjoys history, writing children’s stories, watercolor and oil
painting, and travelling. She keeps close ties with her native France.