May 3, 2009

Dinner à la Toulouse-Lautrec

More on food. On Friday I received “The Art of Cuisine” by Toulouse-Lautrec and Maurice Joyant from

As I stated in my post of
April 17, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec really liked to cook. He had intended on publishing some recipes but died before he could. His art dealer and friend Maurice Joyant found Toulouse-Lautrec’s recipes among his papers after his death. He gathered them up and compiled them into book form.

This one’s an easy candidate for The Time Machine. Not only is this book rife with the feel of fin de siècle Paris, it’s a scream because by our standards 90% of these recipes are unhealthy, include unattainable ingredients or are just plain undoable. Look what Toulouse-Lautrec recommends for Stewed Filets of Porpoise:
"When mounted on the bowsprit of a cutter you have harpooned a porpoise in the English Channel, open it lengthwise and take from it some nice fillets of fish. Scald them, stick them with lardoons, and let them brown in a pot with oil, garlic, onions, shallot, and flour; moisten with half a liter of water and half a liter of red wine; add salt, pepper, nutmeg, pimento, clove, and a bouquet garni; let it simmer on a small fire; add carrots and potatoes. Skim before serving."

And Quails in Ashes:
"At the end of September, beginning of October, after you have killed some fat quail, pluck and empty them. Next roll them, duly salted and peppered, each separately in a well-buttered vine leaf; tie them and bury them in the very hot wood ash of the hearth. When they are cooked, serve them on hot plates."

And what diet is complete without Stewed Marmots – who knew they were so useful?
"Having killed some marmots sunning themselves belly up in the sun with their noses in the air one sunrise in September, skin them and carefully put aside the mass of fat which is excellent for rubbing into the bellies of pregnant women,into the knees and ankles and painful joints of sprains and into the leather of shoes. Cut up the marmot and treat it like a stewed hare which has a perfume that is unique and wild."

Today, I’m going to try "Young Wild Pigeons with Olives". Seriously - except I’m going to replace the pigeons with a small chicken and I’m going to omit the truffles. I’ll take some pictures and let you know in a couple of days how it went.


Polly said...

The last thing I would imagine T-L would like is to cook... I'll check out this book on Amazon, sounds fascinating.

Poetikat said...

I have a whole new feeling towards Lautrec now that I can visualize him killing those poor marmots merely sunning themselves "belly up". That speaks volumes about a person, in my book.


Jelica said...

Like Polly, I also never suspected T-L had anything to do with cooking. I wonder how many recipes you will be able to put to use--interesting experiment.

Coccinella said...

This is hilarious! Marmot fat to prevent stretch marks!

Love the cover. LBx

willow said...

Replacing the pigeons with small chickens or cornish game hens is a good idea. Pigeons would probably be easy to catch, but a messy job. :P

ds said...

The next time I find myself "mounted to the bowsprit of a cutter" I'll try to remember T-L's advice. Agree that it's an interesting experiment to modernize his 'recipes.' Good luck!

sallymandy said...

Good heavens! This is a riot. Hazel, I'm going to be on the edge of my seat until harpoon a porpoise from the bowsprit of your cutter and post pictures for us. And please wear your blue kimono when you do it. :)

I really love these wonderful true stories you come up with. They make history come alive. Thank you!

Premium T. said...

Isn't "squab" a euphemism for pigeon?
They're a specialty of the Orvieto region in Italy. Lotsa bones, as I witnessed on the plate of my traveling companion!

K. said...

How about the cover, with the sweet young thing cuddling up to the lascivious gourmand! Is the way to a woman's heart through her stomach?