For the purpose of a search, I typed the keyword Guadeloupe in the search engine of the Archives nationales de France. I discovered a document entitled « Mémoire des frais de repas de noces… [Memoire of wedding meal expenses] » drawn up by Augé, caterer, on the occasion of his son’s wedding.
The document obviously has nothing to do with Guadeloupe, it is just put there, in a file gathering scattered papers, some of which concern the island. However, it is no secret to anyone, I am curious and greedy, so it was with jubilation that I read the title of the document, so today I am sharing the menu prepared by Mr Augé, caterer, for the 45-course meal served on Tuesday the 17th of May 1768 for his son’s wedding. And it’s not really light! If this does not tell us particularly about the history of the Caribbean, it gives us an idea of what a french wedding banquet in the 18th century might have contained; above all, sugar, the most wellknown colonial product of the 18th century, is part of the table!
for the environment
2 large ends
including a partridge with lentil coulis and sheeptail
the other of the jelly butter cakes
2 of rissoles
2 small béchamel pies
2 of small frozen grenadins [veal medallions]
2 of aviary pigeons at the basilica
2 of chicken in cream sauce
2 hot rabbit pies and stews
2 of the capons with rice
2 veal head of veal on the table
2 fried stuffed sheep’s feet, fried
2nd course in 10 burping dishes
a quilted lamb roast beef for two plates of burps
2 dishes of chicken of roosters
2 of Roman pigeons
2 of Januies’ levreau[?
2 of oilcake
2 of the little fathers
2 of Romans
2 of lettuce
3rd Duty Interruption
2 cakes from Russia
2 of lamb ear croquettes
2 baskets with picker’s basket
2 doughnuts pâté royal
2 lemon orange blossom cream cream
2 of the redcurrant jelly shells
2 crayfish cooked
4 peas in cream sauce
2 macros[maquereaux] to the maître d’ hôtel[with butter and lemon sauce]
Dessert in dishes
2 icing cheeses
4 compotes of which 2 are pears
4 of biscuits and macaroons
2 orange jattes
2 feet of bitten enesme [maybe to read « likewise » so it would be a bit of bitten orange, maybe cloves.]
2 of meringues to the Choisy
2 plates of sugar
The sum of the expenses incurred by Mr. Augé amounts to £220. On the menu you can find great classics, which are also on the menu of 1752 (below) or in the restaurant menu of 1790-1792 of the Very brothers.
Some of the dishes have a long history behind them, since they were also cooked in medieval times, just like the rissoles. On the other hand, the presence of the two sugar plates testifies to the recent arrival of colonial products on the tables of the most affluent or for special occasions; it was in fact from the 18th century onwards that sugar became a full-fledged ingredient in the cuisine of the Old World and no longer merely a remedy.
I’m still a little doubtful about the Meringues à la Choisy, because it’s a lettuce-based preparation, I have a hard time finding the idea attractive. A recipe for Choisy’s sheep is found in the 1752 menu. But on the one hand, culinary tastes are a matter of culture and time, and on the other hand, the desired effect may have been more visual – to obtain a green meringue – than gustatory.
I’m not sure what to understand for the « Le levreau de Januies« , is it a particular species or a type of preparation?
As for Russian cakes, they may refer to the Charlotte known as the Russian Charlotte or the Franco-Russian cake (a kind of yarrow). In the 18th and 19th centuries, French cooks were hired to serve the Russian aristocracy, creating certain recipes, such as Orloff’s calf, which is nowadays thought of as classics of the tsar country.
We are approaching the end and I don’t want you to stay hungry; So, I leave you with two ( French) recipes, taken from the book A table avec les grands personnages de l’histoire [To the table with the great characters of the story].
Edit of 06/09/2017: The mystery « levreau de Januies » is solved. Thank you Julie Duprat for the reading aid. Actually, you have to read « January levreau ». Why the January ones in particular? The book Les classiques de la table… de 1845 [The classics of table..] gives an answer track. It refers to this period as offering « excellent and mature hares ».
(All in French)
See the digitized original of the Memoire des frais de repas de noces prepared by Augé, traiteur, on the occasion of his son’s wedding, 21 May 1768, Cote: MC/RS//94, on the Archives nationales de France.
Birlouez, Eric, A table avec les grands caractères de l’ histoire, éditions Ouest-France, 2012.
An illustrated article to learn more about French cuisine in the 18th century
An article on the oldest known restaurant menus, including those of the Very brothers and the three Provencal brothers.
Discover a Menu from a cookbook in the 18th century
If you haven’t already left in the kitchen you put some things under your teeth, there is still the Almanac of the greedy: serving as a guide in the ways to eat very well 1803 to consult on Gallica.