Marie-Antoine Carême

Marie-Antoine Carême

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun….

“…Whilst still in his teens, working as a pâtissier with Bailly, he (Carême, 1784-1833) came to associate confectionery with architecture, and spent much time studying and copying prints of classical architecture in order to reproduce them in the kitchen as elaborate set pieces or pièces montées.

The architectural style was carried over into his cooking generally. Dishes were displayed on decorated bases or socles, and ornate carvings and statuary in lard and in spun sugar was an essential, if inedible, part of any of Carême’s grand dinners.

Beauvilliers, who summed up his own life’s work in L’Art du cuisinier in 1814, the year before Carême’s first books appeared, ridiculed Carême’s masterpieces of picturesque ruins made of lard and Greek temples in sugar and marzipan.

Carême claimed that his art supplied food for mind and heart, and pleasurably filled the gastronome’s leisure. To which Beauvilliers retorted that the cook’s job was not to please the eye but the palate; not to fill one’s leisure but one’s belly pleasurably.”

From All Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present, by Stephen Mennell. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985. See especially Pp. 146-47

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