Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dear Abbé

Professional musicologists offer answers and advice. Free.


DEAR ABBÉ:

From time to time your namesake used to publish her favourite recipes. Have you any?
                                                                 S. COFFIER


MONSIEUR:

I am reminded of the holiday feast offered by the tenor Gustave Roger on December 23, 1848, to celebrate Meyerbeer's return to health (in time for the production of Le Prophète). Among the invités were Berlioz, Dumas, Halévy, and Adam. The pièce de résistance was a salade Meyerbeer (see below). 
     ABBÉ

VERSION ORIGINALE:
La postérité a droit aux œuvres du génie; et, en temps de révolution, un peu de cuisine, ça repose.

SALADE MEYERBEER

Cette salade est calculée pour quinze personnes. Elle est encore meilleure le lendemain, mais il est rare qu'il en reste. Prenez une balance et la pose majestueuse de la Justice telle qu'on la voit sur le papier timbré; et, pénétré de la gravité de votre mission, pesez sans partialité ni erreur les espèces suivantes:


Grammes
Raiponce,<1> la racine coupée à un pouce et la feuille coupée fin
57
Céleri
115

Cornichons confits dans le vinaigre
65
Câpres
60
Oignons confits
42
Betterave blanche cuite
70
Betterave rouge id.
70
Truffes cuites, noires et blanches
100
Cœur de chicorée
85
Escarole
150
Laitue ordinaire (petit cœur)
30
Haricots blancs cuits
130
Id. verts id.
85
Anchois
90
Achards (blés de Turquie, estragon, capucines)
35
Poivre long confît (gros comme une noisette)
"

Choux-fleurs cuits
70
Pommes de terre cuite
150
Fourniture (Estragon, cerfeuil, pimprenelle), hachés fin
25
Tout se met dans le saladier, par couches dans l'ordre ci-dessus, excepté les câpres, les betteraves et la fourniture qui se mettent dessus.

ASSAISONNEMENT
Deux cuillerées à café de moutarde de Bordin;
Une cuillerée de mignonnette;
Petite cuillerée à bouche de sel;
Neuf cuillerées de vinaigre à l'estragon;
Onze cuillerées d'huile d'olive d'Aix
Cet assaisonnement se fait dans un bol à part; on mêle bien le tout et on le verse sur la salade, bien également, religieusement, avec une cuiller, mais sans remuer. On laisse le tout reposer et s'imbiber trois heures, sans y toucher, ayant bien soin de le recouvrir d'un grand plat. On ne le remue qu'au moment de servir.

Et maintenant, si on trouve plus tard cette recette dans mes mémoires, et qu on en plaisante, je m'en console: une salade pareille, c'est une partition, et on ne doit reculer devant rien quand on peut rendre service au pays.
                    —Gustave Roger, Le Carnet d'un tenor (Paris, 1880), pp. 186-88.

EN ANGLAIS:

as found in the Food Journal, 1 August 1872:

A GRAND SALAD

Cooking is a fine art in Paris, and has its crowds of connoisseurs and amateurs, and, consequently, its exaggerations, its fantacies, in short, its dilettanteism. The following is the receipt given for a salad by the famous tenor Roger, who had it served at a dinner given by him in 1848 to his friend Meyerbeer:-- "Take a balance," says M. Roger, who has just published the receipt, "assume the majestic attitude of justice, and mindful of the gravity of your mission, weigh without partiality or error the following ingredients:-- Reponce, the root cut into pieces, an inch long, and the leaves cut small, 57 grammes; celery, 115 gram.; pickled gherkins, 65 gram.; capers, 60 gram.; pickled onions, 42 gram.; white cooked beetroot, 70 gram.; red cooked beetroot, 70 gram.; truffles cooked, white and black, 100 gram.; endive, heart only, 85 gram.; Escarole, 150 gram.; cabbage lettuce, heart, 30 gram.; white haricot beans cooked, 130 gram.; green French beans cooked, 85 gram.; anchovy, 90 gram.; turkey wheat, estragon, or capucines, 35 gram.; one long pepper pickled, "as big as a nut" (a capsicum); cauliflour, boiled, 70 gram.; potatoes, boiled 150 gram.; herbs,-- tarragon, cerfeuil, and pimpreuelle, chopped fine, 25 gram." The above was calculated for fifteen persons. The ingredients are to be placed in a bowl in the order given in the above receipt, the capers, beetroot, and herbs, are to be laid on the top. The mixture for the salad is given as follows:-- 2 teaspoonfuls of Bordin mustard; 1 tablespoonful of pepper; 1 dessertspoonful of salt; 9 tablespoonfuls of tarragon vinegar; 11 tablespoonfuls of olive oil of Aix. This is to be carefully mixed and finally sprinkled equally over the salad with a spoon; the whole is then to be covered with a plate, and left to stand for three hours, the salad to be turned over and mixed at the moment of serving only. This salad is better even on the second day than the first, says M. Roger, only none of it is ever left! "A salad like this," adds M. Roger, "is a grand harmony, and one should hesitate at nothing which can render service to our country. Posterity has a right to the works of genius." Now this has certainly more the air of an elaborate joke than anything else, but it is not so. The salad in question is known as La Salade Boursault, it has received the high enconiums of the late Alexandre Dumas, a famous gourmet, and it was only in honour of his celebrated guest that M. Roger called it La Salade Meyerbeer.

Gustave Roger
(1815-79)
<1>Raiponce = Campanula rapunculus, widely cultivated in 19th-century France for its salad leaves and roots. Rapunzel is named after the plant.



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