February 17, 2012

Grimod the Gourmand: Why don't we study famous foodies like we do other historical figures?

“Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and in our plate.”

- Grimod de la Reyni√®re (1758–1837)

Born the son of a famous French architect, Reyniere developed a fondness for fancy, extravagant, and theatrical dinner parties.  He was also the first known public food critic and restaurant guide, publishing information about where to eat out and shop for food in Paris.  Like many other famous food writers later in history, he wrote lyrically about dining out, entertaining, food preparation and where to buy food. 

Reyniere came from a very rich family and had a lot of connections and friends; he thew 5 hour dinners at his house each week with this lucky society.  One of my favorite things he is famous for is throwing mock-funeral dinners - he even threw one for himself!  Apparently he created lavish invitations, lit candles, decorated with a black tablecloth, and even had a coffin at the event  That's a theme dinner party I haven't thought of..... 

Finally, and perhaps most oddly, he supposedly passed away at his own table at the age of 80 on Christmas day after dinner.  You can't make this stuff up! 

Ps. I am eating brie on a baguette as I am studying this fascinating man - Reyniere would be proud I think.

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