Everything Gourmet

Dining with the French, The Art of French Table Arts Featuring a Gourmet Gazette Slide Show at the End of the Article

The Ladies who Lunch. Women at the Table without Their Husbands, XVIIth century (after 1636), oil on wood, D’après Abraham Bosse, Musée national de la Renaissance, Écouen Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (musée de la Renaissance, château d’Écouen) / Mathieu Rabeau

Sèvres, France —A 16th century blown glass and gold-rimmed glass made in Venice, a knife and fork with coral handles for savoring fish, a teapot in the shape of an eggplant are just a few of the 1,000 objects on display in an exhibition just outside of Paris celebrating the French table arts. The show, being presented by the Musée national de céramique de Sèvres — the National Ceramic Museum in the upscale Parisian suburb of Sèvres, explores how gastronomy has been elevated to an art form in France from Antiquity through to the present day. The exhibition marks the 10th anniversary of the French Gastronomic Meal being listed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible World Heritage and the 280th anniversary of the Ceramic Museum/Manufacture which is also the national ceramic manufacture and was previously the royal manufacture. If you can’t come to France while the show is on or you are waiting for the museums to re-open, The Gourmet Gazette brings the show to you.

Bottle Cooler, 1680-1685, made from earthenware from the stannifère deposit, Nevers, Décors according to Michel Dorigny and François Chauveau, Sèvres – Manufacture et Musée nationaux, Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Sèvres – Manufacture et musée nationaux) / Daniel Arnaudet Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The objects on display emanate largely from the rich collection of the Ceramic Museum and from the Musée national Adrien Dubouché de Limoges, Limoges being one of the most celebrated porcelain manufacturing centers in the world. The Decorative Arts Museum in Paris has also participated in the elaboration of the exhibition while leading French luxury houses like Christofle, the silversmith, and Saint-Louis, the glass and crystal manufacturer, also lent objects for the exhibition. The federating theme of the show is gastronomy as it showcases the art of the French meals with its table arts, fare and the great French art of conversation. Plates, salt and pepper cellars, tea, coffee and chocolate services, menus, and works of art are just some of the objects and works that the visitor can take in. There are two fully set tables, one evoking a refined supper in the 17th century and another a turn of the 19th century Art Nouveau table.

Terrine holder in the shape of a turkey, 1748-1754, made from earthenware from the stannifère deposit, Manufacture of Paul Hannong, Strasbourg Sèvres – Manufacture et Musée nationaux Photo © RMN-Grand Palais (Sèvres – Manufacture et musée nationaux) / Tony Querrec Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The show opens up with a look at gourmet dining in Antiquity showcasing the recipe’s of the Roman chef, writer and poet Apicius and the cold cuts and meats of the Gauls. The meal, which back then could feature foie gras from geese that had been fed exclusively on figs, was one of the occasions that brought the Gauls and Romans together. Peacock was a key dish back in the Middle Ages while the 16th century was marked by finds from the New World like tomatoes, potatoes, chocolate and roast Turkey which was served at the wedding banquet of Henry IV. The 17th century ushered in French table service, a succession of dishes, which is still a highlight of a true French meal, gastronomic or not, today. The 18th century Age of Enlightenment saw the introduction of sauce boats, mustard pots and butter dishes. A highlight of the 18th century part of the show is a dessert table luxuriously appointed with Sèvres porcelain whose disposition also demonstrates the new taste for privacy while dining. The 19th century was marked by the opening of restaurants accessible to the growing bourgeoise and the arrival of the first « star » chefs like Auguste Escoffier, whose cookbooks are still studied by chefs today. The gastronomic meal is still a part of French culture today as are the table arts. The Sèvres Bleu Elysées table service was used for the G7 dinner in Biarritz in 2019. The exhibition is slated to move onto the Musée national Adrien Dubouché de Limoges from June 23rd through to November 1st.©The Gourmet Gazette
Through to June 6th at the
Sèvres – Manufacture et Musée nationaux
2, place de la Manufacture
92310 Sèvres
+33 (0) 1 46 29 22 05

Dining with the French:
A Gourmet Gazette Slide Show

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