chapter  2
20 Pages

Grimod de la Reynierère's Almanach des gourmands: Exploring the Gastronomic New World of Postrevolutionary France

Alexandre Balthazar Laurent Grimod de la Reyniere (1758-1838), while nearly forgotten today outside specialist circles, became famous in his day as the author of several pioneering gastronomic works. Within just a few years, he published a short-lived Journal des gourmands et des belles (1806), a Manuel des amphitryons (1808), and, most importantly, an eight-volume Almanach des gourmands (1803-12). This was a transitional period for French society in so many ways, fine dining included. In the wake of the French Revolution, the ancien regime model of elegant meals served exclusively in wealthy, aristocratic households to the privileged few, was giving way to a new order of broader bourgeois consumption. The rising bourgeoisie longed to eat as well as its aristocratic betters had before, and those who once supplied refined fare to the nobility now clamored to meet the needs of a new, untitled clientele. In particular, the restaurant, which had originated in the decades preceding the Revolution, was launched into prominence by talented chefs who, no longer attached to aristocratic households, needed new outlets for their skills.