SUNDRIES: An eighteenth century newsletter

N° 15 - January 28, 2006

LINKS: Food inter text MONARCHY: Marie-Antoinette: dialogue by Rousseau? inter text PRIVATE LIFE: The Brit Lit Pot Luck inter text VOLTAIRE: Pseudonyms for a pseudonym

inter cooking 18th CENTURY RECIPE: Biskets

fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys
inter text Magasin Pittoresque: 1851



One could probably fill a small pamphlet with all the sites that touch on 18th century food. Here are just a few. The most useful part of this school project site is in the bibliography and other supporting pages: Destination: 18th century food.

The Food Timeline is, from what I've seen, thoroughly researched (though their excellent explanation of Marie Antoinette's most famous quote - see below - doesn't make it clear that she never said it). This is their page for our period:

Among many other things, this page includes the menu for a "Supper given...for Marie Antoinette of this supper from the imperial archives quoted by L'Almanach des Gourmands pour 1862, by Charles Monselet. Her Majesty's Dinner, Thursday 24 July 1788 at Trianon:" This makes a handy contrast with the discussion of the queen's last meal on: Marie Antoinette's Last Soup and Testament which includes a recipe by Careme for what he believed was her last (vermicelli) soup. (The main site, Soup Song, is a great site for soups overall.)

On the American side, if you'd like to make macaroni just like Thomas Jefferson, the Library of Congress offers this facsimile: Jefferson's Pasta Machine Or if you'd just like an overview of standard American fare from our era, here's a handy PDF:

And the Carnegie Museum offers this useful essay: AT TABLE: HIGH STYLE IN THE 18TH CENTURY

More, no doubt, to come...

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MONARCHY: Marie-Antoinette: dialogue by Rousseau?

So if Marie-Antoinette DIDN'T say, "Qu'ils mangent de brioche" ("Let them eat brioche"), who did? According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Allusions by Elizabeth Webber, Mike Feinsilber (319), it was Rousseau (or at least he first wrote it down - here in a parallel mistranslation): "At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied "Let them eat cake." (Rousseau, The Confessions) Is THIS the original source for one of history's great misattributions? I suspect there's more than one opinion.

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PRIVATE LIFE: The Brit Lit Pot Luck

From time to time, lovers of a particular literature will try to assemble a meal or pot luck supper based on references in that literature. I pity anyone obliged to cobble together a meal made up only of foods mentioned in the English fiction of our time. At best they'd get the plainest of foods - chestnuts, apples, lentil-soup, wheaten loaf, butter - albeit on a currant leaf -, fricaseed chicken (Sterne), boiled rice and roasted meat (Defoe), "roasted Beef, Broiled Mutton, and Stewed Soup", venison and partridge, salted, boiled or fried pork ("not roast .., for no stomach can bear roast pork"), with, just possibly, turnip, carrot or parsnip (Austen), or brown bread (Swift). With maybe just a little lobster and crab (though they should be a bit past it, or at least preserved in vinegar) (Burney).
At worst, they may find themselves eating eel (Behn) with gingerbread, washed down with gooseberry wine (Goldsmith), a slice of rabbit on some crudely made oat bread (Swift) or perhaps even roasted horse (Sterne). The good news is that those who like to play with their food can serve it cut into all kinds of geometric and musical shapes (Swift). (Swift also gets a nod for noting, centuries before low-sodium diets, how little we really need salt.) Smollett's salmagundi and rumbo looks downright luxurious beside all this, and the precision of his details almost Realist beside the broadly drawn lines of his contemporaries, whose descriptions of meals otherwise are dispatched with single nouns: 'sat down to supper', 'after dinner', etc.

Love and Friendship

After having roasted Beef, Broiled Mutton, and Stewed Soup enough to last the new-married Couple through the Honey-moon

Pride and Prejudice

The dinner was as well dressed as any I ever saw. The venison was roasted to a turn--and everybody said they never saw so fat a haunch. The soup was fifty times better than what we had at the Lucases' last week; and even Mr. Darcy acknowledged, that the partridges were remarkably well done; and I suppose he has two or three French cooks at least.
As soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough, I shall send round my cards.


a quick despatch of the roast mutton and rice pudding they were hastening home for...
we have killed a porker, and Emma thinks of sending them a loin or a leg; it is very small and delicate--Hartfield pork is not like any other pork--but still it is pork--and, my dear Emma, unless one could be sure of their making it into steaks, nicely fried, as ours are fried, without the smallest grease, and not roast it, for no stomach can bear roast pork--I think we had better send the leg-- do not you think so, my dear?...
They must not over-salt the leg; and then, if it is not over-salted, and if it is very thoroughly boiled, just as Serle boils ours, and eaten very moderately of, with a boiled turnip, and a little carrot or parsnip, I do not consider it unwholesome.



we had the eel at supper, which was a quarter of an ell about, and most delicate meat..


Cecilia vol. 2 - Memoirs of an Heiress

Didn't, didn't!" answered he, angrily; "waited for you three days, dressed a breast o' mutton o'purpose; got in a lobster, and two crabs; all spoilt by keeping; stink already; weather quite muggy, forced to souse 'em in inegar..


The Life, Adventures & Piracies of the Famous Captain Singleton

they pitched their tents by the river, and having boiled rice and roasted meat for their suppers, and satisfied their hunger, they committed themselves to God's keeping, and laid them down to sleep.


The Vicar of Wakefield

he gave each a large piece of gingerbread
it was universally agreed, that we should have a part of the venison for supper
He... seldom went out without something in his pockets for them, a piece of gingerbread, or an halfpenny whistle...He sate down to supper among us, and my wife was not sparing of her gooseberry wine.


Tristram Shandy

observing a wicker-basket of fine chesnuts standing upon the dresser, had ordered that a hundred or two of them might be roasted and sent in
The apple, is as much Frank's apple as John's. Pray, Mr. Shandy, what patent has he to shew for it? and how did it begin to be his? was it, when he set his heart upon it? or when he gathered it? or when he chew'd it? or when he roasted it? or when he peel'd, or when he brought it home? or when he digested?--or when he--?--For 'tis plain, Sir, if the first picking up of the apple, made it not his--that no subsequent act could.
Is not this ten times better than to set out dogmatically with a sententious parade of wisdom, and telling the world a story of a roasted horse--

Sentimental Journey

They were all sitting down together to their lentil-soup; a large wheaten loaf was in the middle of the table; and a flagon of wine at each end of it promised joy through the stages of the repast
I had got sat down to my dinner upon a fricaseed chicken
La Fleur ...had brought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf:....I ordered him to call upon the traîteur, to bespeak my dinner, and leave me to breakfast by myself.

A Tale of a Tub

"Beef," said the sage magistrate, "is the king of meat; beef comprehends in it the quintessence of partridge, and quail, and venison, and pheasant, and plum-pudding, and custard." When Peter came home, he would needs take the fancy of cooking up this doctrine into use, and apply the precept in default of a sirloin to his brown loaf. "Bread," says he, "dear brothers, is the staff of life, in which bread is contained inclusive the quintessence of beef, mutton, veal, venison, partridge, plum-pudding, and custard, and to render all complete, there is intermingled a due quantity of water, whose crudities are also corrected by yeast or barm, through which means it becomes a wholesome fermented liquor, diffused through the mass of the bread."


The wife minced a bit of meat, then crumbled some bread on a trencher, and placed it before me. I made her a low bow, took out my knife and fork, and fell to eat, which gave them exceeding delight. The mistress sent her maid for a small dram cup, which held about two gallons, and filled it with drink; ...This liquor tasted like a small cider, and was not unpleasant....
We had two courses, of three dishes each. In the first course, there was a shoulder of mutton cut into an equilateral triangle, a piece of beef into a rhomboides, and a pudding into a cycloid. The second course was two ducks trussed up in the form of fiddles; sausages and puddings resembling flutes and hautboys, and a breast of veal in the shape of a harp. The servants cut our bread into cones, cylinders, parallelograms, and several other mathematical figures.
The horse immediately ordered a white mare servant of his family to bring me a good quantity of oats in a sort of wooden tray. These I heated before the fire, as well as I could, and rubbed them till the husks came off, which I made a shift to winnow from the grain. I ground and beat them between two stones; then took water, and made them into a paste or cake, which I toasted at the fire and eat warm with milk. ..I sometimes made a shift to catch a rabbit, or bird, by springs made of Yahoo's hairs; and I often gathered wholesome herbs, which I boiled, and ate as salads with my bread; and now and then, for a rarity, I made a little butter, and drank the whey. I was at first at a great loss for salt, but custom soon reconciled me to the want of it;
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VOLTAIRE: Pseudonyms for a pseudonym

Though it's rare to use a library catalogue as a direct source, I have the Bibliotheque Nationale's on-line catalogue to thank for this (undoubtedly not exhaustive) list of Voltaire's pseudonyms:

Voltaire (1694-1778) pseudonyme forme internationale

Nationalité(s) : France
Langue(s) : français
Sexe : Masculin
Responsabilité(s) exercée(s) sur les documents : Auteur
Naissance : 1694-02-20
Mort : 1778-05-30

Écrivain et philosophe. - Membre de l'Académie française (1746)

Forme(s) rejetée(s) :
  • Arouet, François-Marie (1694-1778)
  • Arouet de Voltaire, François-Marie (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Auteur du Compère Matthieu, L' (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Auteur du Siècle de Louis XIV, L' (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • B. Académicien (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Bourdillon, Joseph (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Démad (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Étallonde de Morival, Dr (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Évhémère (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Fatéma (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Formey, Monsieur (auteur prétendu) pseudonyme
  • Good-Natur'd Vellvisher (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Goodheart, Docteur (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Gouju, Charles (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Grasset, Gabriel (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Huet (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Kaiserling (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Lantin (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • La Caille, Abbé de (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • La Lindelle (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • La Visclède (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • L'Écluse, De (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • L'Escarbotier, Le P. (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Mamaki (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Morza, De (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Passeran, Cte (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Proposant, Un (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Ralph, Le docteur (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Rossette, Josias (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Saint-Didier (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Saint-Hiacinte (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Saint-Hyacinte (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Sherloc (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Tamponet, Abbé (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Thomson (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Thomson, Feu Mr (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Tilladet, Abbé de (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Tournay, Cte de (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Vadé, Antoine (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Vadé, Catherine (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet de (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Volter (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Wellwisher, Good Natur'd (1694-1778) pseudonyme
  • Wolter (1694-1778) pseudonyme
Sources : Au révérend pere en Dieu, messire Jean de Beauvais, créé par le feu roi Loui XV évêque de Senez / [par Voltaire, qui signe à la fin : B. Académicien], 1774. - Annales de l'Empire depuis Charlemagne / par l'auteur du Siècle de Louis XIV, 1753. - Relation du bannissement des jésuites de la Chine / par l'auteur du Compère Matthieu, 1768 . - Cioranescu, 18e s.. - GDEL. - D'Arouet à Voltaire, 1694-1734 / R. Pomeau, 1985. - Laffont-Bompiani, Auteurs. - Larousse 19e s.. - Berthelot [donne 21 novembre 1694 comme date de naissance] . - BN Cat. gén. ; BN Cat. gén. 1960-1969 : Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet dit Arouet de)
Dewey : 100
Notice n° : FRBNF11928669 06/04/12
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From CHEZ JIM Books:
and a history of the CROISSANT:

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18th CENTURY RECIPE: Biskets

A biscuit is so simple a food that it hardly seems worth an antique recipe. But, as a list member pointed out this week, biscuits were frequently mentioned in our time, and in fact they seem to have been a little different: for one thing, they often contained anise and/or caraway seeds as a key ingredient, and so might have been more like Italian anise cookies than what we think of as a biscuit. They were also made of a variety of alternative flours. English recipes often used the phonetic spelling of 'bisket', but the word 'biscuit' divides neatly in French into bis and cuit - that is either 'twice' or 'bran bread' followed by 'cooked' = either twice-cooked, or cooked bran bread (the latter - pain bis - being the common food of the poor in Old Regime France).

Period recipes for it aren't hard to find. Here are two English recipes, one for the standard 'bisket cake', the other for the potato-based version:

From Elizabeth Moxon's English Housewifery Exemplified:

244. _To make a_ BISKET CAKE.
Take a pound of London flour dry'd before the fire, a pound of loaf sugar beaten and sifted, beat nine eggs and a spoonful or two of rose water with the sugar for two hours, then put them to your flour and mix them well together; put in an ounce of carraway seeds, then put it into your tin and bake it an hour and a half in a pretty quick oven.

From Richard Bradley's The Country Housewife and Lady's Director:

To makeBiscuits of _Potatoes._ From [Mary Gordon].

Boil the Roots of Potatoes, till they are tender; then peel them, and take their weight of fine Sugar, finely sifted; grate some Lemon-Peel on the Sugar; and then beat the Potatoes and Sugar together, in a Stone Mortar, with some Butter, a little Mace, or Cloves, finely sifted, and a little Gum Dragon, steeped in Orange-Flower-Water, or Rose-Water, till it becomes a Paste; then make it into Cakes with Sugar, finely powder'd, and dry them in a gentle Oven.

On the French side, the Dictionnaire des Alimens has at least nine pages of different recipes for biscuits, but here's the simplest:

Common Biscuits (162):

Break eight eggs in any vessel, beat them well and at length with a wooden spatula, as for an omelette; put in a pound of powdered sugar, as much flour; mix and blend all this for half an hour, until your dough is quite white; and if you like, add two pinches of powdered anise; then pour your dough into molds of tin or of paper, formed in long squares, with the sides lifted to hold the dough; powder your biscuits with sugar, put them in the oven, or in a red copper oven with flames above and below, but more above than below. They need only a quarter of an hour to cook; when they are cooked and of a good color, glaze them with powdered sugar, with which you will sprinkle them, and take them still warm out of their molds.
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fleur de lysFOR READERS OF FRENCHfleur de lys

Magasin Pittoresque: 1851

A life of Linnaeus here, as it happens, as well as a fair amount of science and technology. Including whale song (!).

8 - a special seat designed to project orators' voices (with sketches)
26 - 18th c. experiments with electricity
45 - party by Spanish ambassador in Paris 1/1730
79 - voyage of La Perouse: death of La Borde brothers on California coast
91 - images of street signs
99 - staircase image for Lent
148 - rhino fossils (18th and other)
160 - late 17th c satirical etching
162 - life of Linnaeus
186 - a misadventure of Rousseau's
207 - church bells and thunder
251 - English wedding procession, 1751
268 - D'Estaing takes Grenada, 1779
275 - 1785 walking across the Seine
276 - Rousseau's walnut trees (valley of Lake Leman)
296 - 17th century frontispiece of Justice
299 - 17th century Dutch draining machine
588 - 17th century German satirical etching

84 - inventor Denis Papin
114 - painter J. P. Oudry
195 - La Bruyere
207 - sculptor Landelin Ohmacht
240 - Hannah Snell, English woman soldier
244 - poet Andre Chenier
287 - women painters of 17th and 18th c.
312 - famous centenarians (including some from 18th)
319 - Wordsworth
588 - artist Moritz Retzsch

Off-topic, but of interest:
99 - papal bull recognizing Indians as people, 1636
203 - images of boats up to 16th c.
239 - graffitti at Pompeii
300 - images of dancing fountain patterns
483 - whale song

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End quote

"We are a people grown fat on fabrication"

Jerry Stahl* on James Frey

* who knows a bit about recovery, and may have told more truth in his novel ("Permanent Midnight") than Frey did in his 'memoir'

FROM CHEZ JIM BOOKS Three works on eighteenth century subjects:

For some sample 18th century vegetarian recipes, click here.

copyright 2006 Jim Chevallier.
When using brief extracts from this site, please credit properly and provide a link back to this site.
(NOTE: Most translations, except where otherwise noted, are by Jim Chevallier and are copyrighted as such.)
Please do not reproduce extended pieces (recipes, translated pieces, etc.) without prior permission.


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