It was during this period also that cooking first became recognized as an art form. The most famous chef of that era was actually born in Switzerland, Francois Vatel. He is responsible for inventing Chantilly cream, a whipped cream dessert, highly touted in the French court. The American version with sugar and vanilla included is much like Chantilly cream
Vatel, obviously a highly emotional chef, committed suicide during a banquet to honor Louis XIV when the fish delivery failed to arrive on time. Thousands of guests were present at the affair and the chef simply was overwhelmed with the responsibility of feeding them all. The typical chef's white jacket and chef's hat can be attributed to Vatel as well. There's actually a very good movie about this famous chef, starring Gerard Depardieu (PG13) which gives a stunning overview of the great lengths the hosts went to put on a banquet.
Louis XIV took great pride in the banquets he provided at Versailles. The four courses of the affair consisted of forty dishes each--a gargantuan event. Green peas were a luxury which had just become available during Louis's reign. Ladies who had just eaten at the banquet table often found dishes of the delectable peas in their rooms for them to munch on before they retired.
Strawberries were also a favorite of the king. His gardeners grew them in the greenhouses at Versailles to have available for the king's table. They became a favorite dish when paired with the above mentioned Chantilly cream. Ladies of the court were said to try to seduce the courtiers by throwing strawberries at them. King Louis himself became quite a coffee advocate even priding himself on making his own brew.
One of these days I would love to go to France and simply eat my way across the country! Have you been to France? What was your favorite dish?
Golden Keyes Parsons writes historical fiction, and is also a popular retreat/conference speaker. Her highly acclaimed Darkness to Light Series (Thomas Nelson) chronicled the journey of her French Huguenot ancestors in 17th century France. Her fourth novel, His Steadfast Love, is a Civil War novel set in Texas. Her latest release is a compilation of four novellas (WhiteFire Publishing) – a biblical fiction series entitled Hidden Faces, Portraits of Nameless Women in the Gospels. Golden lives in Waco, TX, with her husband, Blaine, where they enjoy their children, grandchildren and are avid sports fans of their alma mater, Baylor University. You can contact her at www.goldenkeyesparsons.com.