From Apollinaire to Zola, the “Dictionary of Food Writers”
We like to devour this book by Jean-Baptiste Baronian who makes good food loved through the words of these literary giants, from Charles Baudelaire to Émile Zola via Georges Simenon, Régine Desforges… A whole program. Follow the guide.
Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
Carried away by the Spanish flu at the age of 38, the poet-writer delighted in treating his visitors well: master chef of magnificent dinners, a lover of tasty cuisine, long-cooked, well-seasoned dishes, a model gourmand.
A meal for him is like an orchestra with its chords, its ensembles, its fortissimos: gourmet bouillabaisse, fillets of sole a la Nausicaa and glasses of Sauternes, eel pie with mills, red grouse… “What magnificence”, writes the poet, co-author of The gourmet Heptameron620 sensual follies: a book to put in the library.
Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850)
He ate with jovial gluttony, swallowed four bottles of white wine and coffee which roasted him inside, he drank whole nights which he describes in Treatise on modern stimulants (1839) while tasting mushroom timbales, omelettes and specialties from Touraine where he lived and wrote.
Also rillons, rillettes, dodine ducklings, hare pâté, pig’s trotters, modern “gastrolatry” and gastronomic delights. Yes, lavish meals and Rabelaisian drinks, not to mention the champagne which is only to be drunk from 7pm: “Promotes conversation and excites laughter.”
Avid drinker, the writer mentions the wines of Italy, Switzerland, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Greece, South America: a true encyclopedist of good food and bottles matured in the cellar.
Agatha Christie (1890-1976)
“Incorrigible gourmet”wrote in his autobiography published in 1977. The table occupies a central place across “a gigantic meal” in Torquay, the novelist’s native village in Devon (Great Britain). He is very skilled in the kitchen, at the table he reserves the mayonnaise, the cutting of poultry and meat.
Choosing a fish is one thing, knowing how to use it in the kitchen is another. “I know nothing about firearms, which is why I kill my characters with poisons that are clean and fire up my imagination.” Eighty recipes related to her work were born from the English writer.
Jacques Chardonne (1884-1968)
“No one in France knows how to appreciate an old cognac, from a good year”, In his opinion. In England, the aristocrats have preserved the true taste of these large bottles: the age of an old cognac is difficult to establish, the novelist notes.
It is revealed by its aroma, the British want an old cognac to have a story. They believe in the novel as much as in its taste. “Without imagination, what would be the pleasure of drinking”, asks the writer born in Charente, country of the brandy mentioned: cognac.
Jacques de Coquet (1898-1988)
The journalist and columnist was the soul of Le Figaro and Le Figaro Magazine through his for seven decades Talks at the table. According to his writer friend Jean Chalon, he knew everything, he was a living encyclopedia with infinite knowledge. He knew how to mix the legendary and the lived, Minos and Minas, Margaret Thatcher, Madame Verdurin and Louise de Vilmorin: he was the scholar at the table.
James de Coquet’s company was a party. We eat, drink, taste, savor, and unexpected guests appear: Charles VII, Verdi, Brigitte Bardot, a peasant girl from Vimoutiers named Marie Harel, Victor Hugo from his island of Guernsey, La Reynière, Coco Chanel, Alexandre Dumas, Albert Einstein, a Amazonian Indian.
Everyone is well behaved at the table. No gourmands, no louts, all gourmands have their napkin rings. In the dining room it is the only place where one can hope to meet three times a day: perfection.
Maurice Edmond Saillant, known as Curnonsky (1872-1956)
He is the most famous French gastronome of the 20th centuryAnd century. The writer wrote articles for the newspaper Le Journal and Les Mondays du Michelin from 1907. He signs them with his name, but does not invent the notion of the ninth art in gastronomy or the term culinographer (journalist specializing in gastronomic columns).
On the other hand, he is the author of these neologisms: “gourmette” like Colette and “gastronomad”, a gastronome who travels to drink well and eat well whose motto was “the road and the crust”.
Antoninus Lent (1784-1833)
Despite his name, which smacks of abstinence, he was the Napoleon of cooking, the undisputed genius of large assembled pastries and also a great stylist, author of 2,000 recipes including prawn bisque, cod steak with hollandaise sauce, pork with bacon and macaroni, duckling with olives, chicken with cauliflower, potatoes with rice, white lemon jelly…
Yes, Carême was an outstanding gastronomic director. His fame spread throughout Europe, crowned heads, statesmen and Croesus wanted to appeal to him as King George IV of England, Tsar Alexander 1umJames de Rothschild, a patron who serves the high table, the banquets, a feast for the eyes.
Carême was a perfect self-taught who knew how to write beautiful recipes. He ate little and rarely drank, writes Jean-Baptiste Baronian, his biographer.
Regine Desforges (1935-2014)
The author of The blue bicyclethe first woman editor in France for whom the table was supposed to be a feast, an ever-renewed pleasure, she tasted and loved cuisines from elsewhere: peas and cod à la poitevine, tapenade, eggs with ham, the seven-hour stew, the Indian-style roast pork, eggs and his mother’s milk.
She was the queen of cherry clafoutis, jams made by her: a ritual that fascinates me, she said.
Gustav Flaubert (1821-1880)
Was he an Epicurean? He loved the simple pleasures of existence and of the table: “Food is big business” notes author Jean-Baptiste Baronian. “Sauternes boy with oysters, prawn bisque, two fillets of Châteaubriand, turbot cream, Madeira and cigars! I’m hungry, I’m thirsty, I’d like to drink while I eat, eat while I drink.
In the Madame BovaryFlaubert mentions sirloins, six chicken fricassees, veal casserole, three thighs, a pretty suckling pig served with four shamrock sausages.
All glasses had been filled to the brim. On the menu were cakes and nougats from pastry chef Yvetot and a cake. All this raised the cries. Yes, an authentic epicurean, a gourmet able to choose between ten kinds of mustard.
Francois Rabelais (1494-1553)
His name is almost always associated with the excellent food and the incredible binges in which the gluttonous participants gulp down as much food as words: gueuletons and colloquia are side by side, it is impossible to dissociate them.
Rabelais is the champion of nomenclature, he uses it, he abuses it, most of his lists concern food and drink. The Rabelaisian epic describes greasy beef tripe, egrets (white herons), shelducks (duck) and other “breusses”, large glasses and “bettes” (refreshments).
It is the language of another world. Who still reads Rabelais? Curnonsky, brotherly eater, indicates that his readers know how to combine “the pleasures of the table and those of the mind”.
Jean-Francois Revel (1924-2006)
The polemical writer from Marseilles borrowed his pseudonym from the sign of a Parisian restaurant where a delicious stew was served.
The philosopher Revel, a widely read commentator, signed a reference work: A word partya book in which we discover the immense science of the gourmet who challenges the idea of a culinary revolution in 16And century under Catherine de’ Medici. The writer, who refutes the pompous and ornamental language of contemporary cuisine, is still widely read today.
It supports the simplicity of the texts. The dishes have a significant name and the author mentions cassoulet, polenta, potatoes: he searches for the true composition. In this, Revel is a contemporary gourmet, he signed good gastronomy articles for Gault & Millau and L’Express, he went to the restaurant every day at noon. He lived on the banks of the Seine, opposite La Tour d’Argent, where he savored the many ducklings of the Terrail house.
Gourmets are missing a lot for whom living means eating well every day.
Giorgio Simenon (1903-1989)
The Belgian writer made Commissioner Maigret a singular lover of good food, a lover of traditional cooked dishes such as roast pork with lentils, beef miroton, tripe, andouillettes, bouillabaisse, sauerkraut cooked by Madame Maigret, the lord’s servant.
Simenon admits that he was a gastronome and surveyor of bistros, his preference, and not chic and trendy restaurants, such as Le Grand Véfour dear to Raymond Oliver. Over time, the writer has looked for simple dishes and rejected the elegant preparations of Escoffier, which he knows by heart and whose predominance he rejects.
Simenon has evolved towards simple tastes, Belgian dishes: mussels and fries, rice tart, green eel. He is driven by a strong nostalgia for his childhood.
Jean Bruller, known as the Vercors (1902-1991)
The author of silence of the sea (film released in 1949) wrote a culinary book (1976) entitled I cook like a chef without knowing anything where he fiercely challenges the so-called secrets of too convoluted haute cuisine. But this 300 page book leaves you wanting more. Alas.