Festine luculliene: secretele bucătăriei elitei clujene în a doua jumătate a secolului XIX

1 February 2010

Emőke Csapó

The French influence is preponderant in the cuisine of the XIXth century. The period is characterized through precision, accuracy, exigency in preparing certain courses; the quantity prescribed is respected, the adequate ingredients are used, the condiments are used according to the recipe. A turn in the gastronomic evolution of the XIXth century is the year 1856 when the book La cuisine classique by Urbain Dubois and Émile Bernard is published, a key stone regarding the fundamental requirements of the classic cuisine, a pleading for the importance of taste, serving, nice ornamentation and harmonization of courses. The case study is aimed at a strict research of the menus of Bánffy Irma (mother of the writer and the political figure Bánffy Miklós) drawn during a period of two months of the year 1870. The singularity of the archival source consists in a fine combination of the French and English cuisine with the local products and also in practicing a special regime of eating. It was compulsory to serve breakfast by fork and in the end to serve a consistent dessert, the five dishes of lunch and the dinner known as “tea” served only with dry cookies and seldom ham, cold steak. The international influences can be noticed both in the name (“Napoleon soup”, “French steak”, “cotelette”, “mayonnaise”), in the specific way of cooking: “roast beef”, “beefsteak”, “boeuf á la mode”, “vegetable soup consommé” and in the way of using import ingredients, such as the case of “Rizotto soup”. The great consumed quantity of meat is doubled only by the dairy products which are the basis of the Hungarian traditional food in a harmony of sweet, sourish and salty taste relished in a deer steak with red grape sauce. The tendency of keeping pace with the news is also obvious in the way of using a great quantity of butter and olive oil (instead of traditional butter) in cooking courses and using vegetables, compotes, salads instead of pasta, potatoes and rice for side dishes. Cooking by boiling or steaming and buttering the asparagus, cauliflower increases the modern, occidental hint to pasta’s detriment, a product specific to the Hungarian cuisine in all its forms. 

eating; aristocratic families; menu; XIXth century cuisine; Cluj