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What recipes Dumas, Odoyevsky, Hugo and other famous writers shared in their cookbooks

It would be a mistake to underestimate cookbooks – the importance of cooking is evidenced by the fact that in France the first collection of recipes was released immediately after the invention of printing, quite a bit inferior to the Bible and other sacred texts. It is no wonder that among the famous authors of works of art were those who directed their talent to the description of kitchen wisdom.

“The lectures of Mr Poof, doctors encyclopedias and other Sciences, about the art of cooking»

Under this title, the readers of the Appendix to the “Literary newspaper” of the 1840s got acquainted with the gastronomic secrets and rules of etiquette in the field of eating. The author of the articles, later United in the General edition, was Prince Vladimir Fedorovich Odoyevsky, philosopher, critic, writer, composer and teacher, and also – a fine connoisseur of good cuisine. The owner of the secular and literary St. Petersburg salon, Odoyevsky liked to arrange dinners and paid much attention to their organization. “Lectures” are devoted to recipes of cooking, which were prepared in Russia of those times, both native Russian and brought from Europe and took a permanent place in the domestic cuisine.
Both the writer and the readers got a lot of pleasure from the publication of these notes. Professor Poof was popular for his funny stories and fascinating style of presentation. Sometimes he started “angry” that its reality is questioned, at times confessed his obesity and published “diet vs thickness”.
Interestingly, we invite you to lunch Odoevskogo guests about the taste qualities of the dishes were sometimes very ambiguous impression. As count Sollogub wrote, “at these dinners some sauces were served, so disgusting that even now, almost forty years later, my heart is scratching at the memory of them.” Well, it is no wonder that “Poof” in English meant “to inflate, to deceive”.

“Take well-peeled three turnips, three carrots, three beets, six potatoes, six celery, two onions and three parsley roots. All together put in a simple clay pot, adding a little salt, but not a drop of water or oil, close the lid of the pot, smear the outskirts of the dough and put in the oven for five hours. Then take out all that is in the pot, wipe through a sieve on an iron deep plate, sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese on top and put in the closet to blush. Fresh butter is served with this dish.”

“Dumas was a genius of life” – spoke about the great writer George sand, and Alexandre Dumas biography is such a brilliant proof of the thesis. In the literary field, he left behind a huge number of novels and more than a hundred thousand pages, the number of his mistresses can not be established, but it is known that it was very large. Dumas was an avid hunter – once, going to Paris from his hometown of Ville-Cotre to pay for the night in the hotel, he delivered the owner of the game, extracted on the way to the capital. Dumas was an inveterate traveler, having visited many countries, including Russia. It is no wonder that this Bon vivant found great pleasure in a delicious dinner. During a trip to Russia in 1858-1859, the gendarmes, leading the observation of a foreign guest, reported that Dumas “has a passion to cook himself in the kitchen food and, they say, a master of this business.”
Childhood Dumas passed in rather cramped conditions, but the mother, being a great cook, managed to cook quite delicious dishes from the simplest products. Here the way had Alexander’s love of hunting in his time in the food consumed almost all forest birds, some of them mentioned in famous gastronomic and full of digressions, the novel “the Three Musketeers”.

So Dumas recommends to cook meat:
“Take the lamb, best of all the loin, cut into even pieces the size of a nut, put for 15 minutes in a marinade consisting of vinegar, onion, pepper and salt. At this time, you should prepare a bowl of charcoal on which you fry the meat. Remove the meat from the marinade and place on an iron or wooden rod interspersed with onion rings. The meat should be fried on all sides, constantly turning the spit. If you want your kebab was very spicy, leave the meat in the marinade all night…»
In General, it seems that Dumas lived at a frantic pace and that is why he needed a special approach to food. In the kitchen, as in life and work, everything was with a surplus, too much – if the dinner was started, then for tens and hundreds of invited and uninvited guests, if the wine was served – it actually flowed like a river.

Dumas himself willingly laid down his pen to pick up the pan. It is known that he was very demanding in choosing a cook, but the rulers of the kitchen in his house did not stay long. Once, during a trip to Marseille, a friend recommended Dumas excellent cook, which, however, did not know how to cook. It was her writer hired with great pleasure – because now he has an unbiased assistant. “She will not,” rejoiced Dumas, ” add pepper to my stew, flour to my sauces, chicory to my coffee, she will allow me, without raising my hands to heaven, to add wine and broth to my omelets.”
“The big culinary dictionary”, which was the last major work of the writer, is not so much a story about the dishes as a work of art, filled with stories and parables about how to build relationships with food and not so famous chefs, rulers, historical figures and acquaintances Dumas. In total, the book includes about eight hundred novels and serves not so much as a guide for cooking dinner, but a way to look at life and food through the eyes of the great novelist.

“Hugo’s cookbook»

It is known that in Belgium, where Dumas went after the proclamation of Napoleon III Emperor, the writer treated including Victor Hugo, another famous lover of delicious food or, speaking in French, gourmet.

Between “gourmet” and “gourmet” the French see a huge difference: if the first – a lover of a lot and tasty food, in other words – a glutton, the second – a connoisseur of fine cuisine, who knows the secrets of cooking exquisite, expensive dishes. In this sense, to call a connoisseur a gourmet means to seriously hurt his feelings. Nevertheless, Hugo, according to his family and friends, was a gourmet. Charles Augustin Saint-Bev, a literary critic and friend of the writer, joked: “Natural history knows three great stomachs: ducks, sharks and Victor Hugo.”

Hugo was a great lover to arrange in his house receptions and, of course, a lover of delicious and varied food. Florian Hugo, a descendant of the author of “Notre Dame de Paris” calls his grandfather “a great eater”, during the meal he preferred that on the table there were many dishes and from each he took a little. The writer’s favorite Breakfast was poached eggs served with Basque pepper.

In 2012, published “Cookbook Hugo”, written by Florian using the memories of his contemporaries about his great ancestor and excerpts from letters, fragments of works, handwritten recipes. The resulting cookbook has become a part of the biography of Victor Hugo and a collection of recipes adapted for the modern foodie: cook the terrine of duck foie Gras, millefeuille of eggplant, suketu cheese, cocktail crab in jelly, maybe the modern connoisseur of fine cuisine. No wonder – Florian Hugo is engaged in cooking professionally.

Cooking from literary characters

Even without composing collections of recipes, masters of the word often let high gastronomy and tempting descriptions of dishes into their works. Nikolai Vasilyevich Gogol was known as a great lover of delicious food, and his readers are familiar with the hypnotic effect of the descriptions of countless “dumplings, pampushechek, tovchenichek”, and the adventure of Patsyuk from “the Night before Christmas”, when “dumpling splashed out of the bowl, slapped in sour cream, turned over on the other side, jumped up and just hit him in the mouth”, causes an irresistible desire to be in the place of the character, or at least to cook and eat this dish in the usual way. As for Chichikov, who collected “dead souls”, when describing his dinner Gogol mentions “soup with a puff pastry, purposely saved for passing for several weeks, brains with peas, sausages with cabbage, fried fowl, pickled cucumber and eternally puff sweet pie”.

Some writers, in an effort to create a separate gastronomic work, attributed the laurels of the main cook to their favorite hero. So did Pamela Travers, who wrote “Mary Poppins in the kitchen,” and Rex stout, who collected in one edition all the recipes mentioned in different books about the adventures of detectives, calling it “the Cookbook of Nero Wolfe.” And the Frenchman Robert Courtin released “Madame Maigret’s Recipes”, a book that included ways of cooking the wife of the famous Commissioner from the novels of Georges Simenon.

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