Saturday, 18 December 2010

Two Famous Christmas Menus, Part I - !8th Window

The following is not for the fainthearted!

During the Franco-Prussian War  of 1870/1871 the Prussian Army lay siege to the grand city of  Paris from September 19, 1870  to January 28, 1871.

On December 25th 1870, the 99th day of the siege dinner was served at the

Café Voisin, 261 rue Saint-Honoré, Paris

Butter radishes, Stuffed Donkey's Head, Sardines

Purée of Red Beans with Croûtons
Elephant Consommé

Fried Gudgeons, Roast Camel English Style
Jugged Kangaroo
Roast Bear Chops au Poivre

Haunch of Wolf, Venison Sauce
Cat flanked by Rats
Watercress Salad
Antelope Terrine with Truffles
Mushroom Bordelaise
Buttered Green peas

Rice Cake with jam
Gruyère Cheese


The Paris Zoo had been held in reserve for a Christmas Dinner.

The Wine List made up for any shortcomings in the food,
I doubt that a greater list has accompanied any meal since:


First Service
Latour Blanche 1861
Château Palmer 1864

Second Service
Moutin Rothschild 1846
Romanee Conti 1858
Grand Porto 1827


  1. Mmm I think I'll pass on the food and just quaff a little fine wine if you don't mind!

  2. Just a smidgeon of kangaroo and some watercress for me , thanks . I want to leave room for the wine .

  3. I don't know why, but the idea of elephant consomme is one I find most amusing.

  4. "Cat flanked by Rats," accompanied by a Moutin Rothschild 1846? I think I might have preferred to have been rolled off in one of the wheelbarrows carrying the dead.

  5. friko i'd be inclined to drink and to cheer on my hungry buddies!!! steven

  6. Wow! What a piece of history! Where did you find it?!

  7. I have a recipe that could easily come from the same era and cook:


    1 medium size Elephant
    2 rabbits (optional)
    Salt and pepper to taste
    Brown Gravy

    Cut Elephant into small bite sized pieces. (This will probably take about two months, so allow for time)

    Trunk – Keep the trunk handy. You can store the bite size pieces in it.

    Add enough Brown gravy to cover.

    Cook over Kerosene fire for about four weeks at 465 degrees. Allow to simmer for an additional two weeks.

    This lovely dinner will serve about 3,800 people. If more people are expected, the two rabbits may be added. However, most people do not like to find Hare in their Stew.

  8. "Cat flanked by Rats"?????

    Oh, ick!!!!

    OK, I'm going to go fix breakfast now. Wait. I think later would be better, after all this has been erased from my mind!

  9. I'm on a diet, thank you - I'll pass!

  10. Think I'd have the vegetarian option!

  11. wow...ugh...time for

  12. No wonder the Prussians had a reputation for behaving like Barbarians.

  13. stuffed donkey head - eugh! thats just for starters.
    this is a joke right? i have a recipe for parrot pie in an old cookery book - could be a change from turkey?

  14. Just the menu I needed to read after panting about chocolates. Thank you, I now am no longer salivating. ;)

  15. I think I am one of the faint-hearted!

  16. What a menu, but then again we still eat animals so I guess a donkey and a pig aren't so different. The cats and the rats, though. That would be hard to swallow.

  17. So where did you find this menu? Was this one of your relatives?

  18. You have outdone yourself with this! What I want to know is what did they do with the rest of the elephant?

  19. Laugh and scoff s much as you like, all of you.
    This is not a joke. The Parisians did indeed raid the Zoo for meat on this Christmas Day. They'd already eaten all the dogs and cats in Paris.

    It was only when the siege came to an end that the Prussians provided trainloads of food for the defeated city.

    Look up the Franco/Prussian war of 1870/71 if you don't believe me.

    No doubt they made the rest of the elephant into tasty mince pies and shipped them to Britain.

  20. As Christmas approaches, and we all
    struggle to keep our chins up, and
    the season's smile and cheer in view,
    it is a good thing to realize that every
    time a Christmas day arrives, somewhere
    in the world, there is a war going on,
    and the inmates have taken over the
    asylum and the town, see KING OF
    HEARTS, or the Zoo is raided for meat.
    I love this 18th entry, macabre and
    touching, bizarre and tinged with
    alacrity. Without acknowledgment to
    our darker sides and nature, we can
    not fully appreciate our own fortune;
    whether good or otherwise.
    Good show, nice research.

  21. Enough to convince even the most earnest carnivore to seriously embrace vegetarianism!

  22. Well Friko - lucky you!!
    Noone else has left a comment, so the brooch is yours! If you would like to email me your address then I will pop it in the post. The roads are treacherous and we haven't seen a postie for 3 days, but I will post as soon as I can get down the bank safely!
    Have left my email address with a comment on the give-away post. - Jo

  23. I need to read this menu after the holidays before each meal – it will cut my appetite and I’ll be on my way to a slimmer me!

  24. Fascinating glimpse into history, Friko. The menu is not to my taste, but hunger has amazing results on our fussiness in eating.

  25. Elephant Stew eh? That would be a tusk and a half (they don't get any better)

    Seriously though - i wonder just how much of that was just for show? Did they really serve Elephaht - i like to think not


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