Saturday, July 29, 2017

Etiquette and Francatelli's Legacy

"At Windsor Castle, Francatelli, and then the royal chefs who followed him during Victoria’s long reign, had at least two Yeomen of the Kitchen and 24 assistant chefs to prepare these meals, and then, of course, all kinds of servers and lackeys were involved in washing, table-setting, serving and clearing away." —M.F.K. Fisher 


"Her Majesty’s (Queen Victoria's) French? Italian? English? chef, Charles Edme Francatelli, wrote ''The Modern Cook'' in 1846, and it sold almost as well in America as in England. Few kitchens here could follow all its directions for the light Gallic dainties Francatelli introduced to counteract the basic heaviness of royal dining habits, but gradually his style of making two courses of a meal, with a predominance of sweet dishes in the second, was adapted by our housekeepers to shape the way we now eat lunch and dinner.

In the Queen's menus, there were often three soups, three fishes, a kind of savory (for instance, marrow patties with a fines-herbes sauce), four dishes and eight entrées in the first course, all served at once. In the second there were three roasts and poultry and game, three sweet desserts, two more side desserts of pastry, and 12 entremets, including vegetables, aspics and fruit tartlets.

At Windsor Castle Francatelli, and then the royal chefs who followed him during Victoria’s long reign, had at least two Yeomen of the Kitchen and 24 assistant chefs to prepare these meals, and then, of course, all kinds of servers and lackeys were involved in washing, table-setting, serving and clearing away. 


Nonetheless, American housewives as far west as Iowa and then beyond, helped by one or two immigrant servants, read ''The Modern Cook'' and its lesser imitators and gradually changed the accustomed pattern of one long hodge-podge of dishes served together, even in a plain Family Meal, to two courses, with sweets alone finally constituting the second course. This might consist of two kinds of pies or tarts, a cool pudding, a jelly and a tall layered cake, but at least these did not appear side by side with roast pigeons, asparagus soup and a haunch of venison flanked by boiled vegetables." — From Food: The Arts (Fine and Culinary) of 19th Century America
By M. F. K. Fisher