9.22.2011

Reading: REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PARIS

The computer saga goes on.  Here's a brief update: haven't had time (who has any time, really?) to take my ticking bomb of a laptop to the repair guy.  Adam said to just go buy a new laptop and be done with it.  I'm tempted to just go to the Apple Store with my iPad, iPod, camera, and credit card in hand and tell them to FIX MY LIFE.

So still no photos.

In the meantime, though, I've been catching up on some reading.  In addition to finally reading my first Libba Bray book (BEAUTY QUEENS - loving it!), I'm also reading REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PARIS: SIXTY YEARS OF WRITING FROM GOURMET, edited by Ruth Reichl.  So far, it's been a bit a slog with some stories really dragging down the others.  Nevertheless, there are absolute gems within the pages (or within my iPad fake pages, anyway).  I have two excerpts that I'd love to share with you.  Here's the first:

"According to French bistro belief, a wicked worm lurks in every man's intestines: Unless held in check by regular applications of wine, it may grow to enormous proportions.  Thus the more you drink, the more you feel the virtuous righteousness of Saint George conquering a homemade dragon."


~ George Bijur ("Chicken Demi-Deuil," August 1941)

On one hand, ew.  But then I love the idea that I'm slaying dragons with every glass of wine drunk.  Only the French can get away with advocating wine-drinking as heroic!

The other excerpt I want to share is lengthier so stick with me.  It's the recipe for oeufs Reine-Amelie (translation: eggs Queen Amelia), which is something that the writer, Louis Diat, learned how to make in culinary school but will surely never make again.  This dish was created in honor of the Queen of Portugal:

"Pieces of butter were cut and shaped to resemble hen's eggs. Each butter egg was rolled in flour, beaten egg, and in fine white bread crumbs.  This process was repeated to obtain two coats √§ l'anglaise.  A sharp cutter cut out a small plug at the end of each egg, and the eggs were put away to be chilled thoroughly.  They were then fried in deep hot fat.  The heat melted the butter, which was then emptied out of the hole in the end of the egg.  The simulated shells were filled with eggs scrambled to a delicate creaminess with finely chopped truffles.


In the meantime, the nests for the eggs were being made.  Shoestring potatoes were used to line thickly the bottom and sides of a wire frying basket.  A smaller frying basket set inside held the potatoes firmly until they were fried.  When the baskets were separated, the crisp nest slipped out.  The nests were apt to roll on the serving dish, so a supporting bed was made to hold them steady.  This was done by forming a support from noodle dough shaped to look like part of a tree.  It had to be baked in the oven right on the platter to give it sufficient rigidity to hold the nest.  Then, some cooked noodles, colored green and yellow and cut in fancy shapes, were arranged on the dish."

~ Louis Diat ("Cuisine Parisienne," July 1951)

Wow.  And double wow.  I can't imagine eating that dish.  I'd be alternately impressed by the detail and annoyed at the preciousness.  One thing I do love is that Louis Diat mentions that he's putting this recipe into print for posterity so that we have a historic record that this was made once for the Queen of Portugal.

Which makes me wonder about the lucky person who works as an archivist for such collections as Gourmet.  Because I'd love that job*!

Eat, drink, and tell me about the books you're reading - I need recs!


* Cooked Books (who hasn't blogged in a few months, I'm afraid) has that job, actually: she is in charge of the culinary archives at the New York Public Library  




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