Tuesday 13 November 2007

Prince Henrik's magnifique new cookbook

Photo: Jan Jørgensen/Berlingske Tidende

Prince Henrik has researched, written and now published a new cookbook, his fourth. It is about French culinary art at the Danish court dating back to the court of Frederik III and a banquet held in 1688 where 38 courses were prepared. Prince Henrik and the current royal chef have reproduced the recipes and Prince Henrik has written his impressions of Danish and French gastronomy, complete with a comparison between royal food in 1688 and 2007. Prince Henrik is an old hand at publishing with this his fourth cookbook as well as others, and in this case written with historian Barbara Zalewski, who adds her own commentary about what life at court has been like through time and about Danish and French chefs at court, among other things.
Working with the current chef, they created a buffet of around 40 different recipes which Prince Henrik said could be eaten if you tasted them by taking just a small bite of each!

This one is called Helt Magnifique! (Totally Magnifique!), which somewhat ironically combines Danish and French, since Henrik has long been criticised for his Danish.

Some previous books by Prince Henrik:

1) Under pseudonym of H.M. Vejerbjerg, Prince Henrik and Queen Margrethe translated Simone de Beauvoir's Alle mennesker er dødelige (Every Human is Mortal) in 1981
2) Chemin faisant (French poems) 1982
3) Skæbne forpligter ( Destin oblige Destiny Obliges -en) his memoir 1996
4) Ikke Altid Gåselever (Not always goose liver) with Jakob Johannsen 1999
5) Cantabile, collection of poetry 2000
6) Les escargots de Marie Lanceline 2003.
7) Château de Caïx as told by Prins Henrik 2004
8) Fotos fra Prins Henriks private album (in English Photos from Prince Henrik's private collection and also in French as Intimité royale) 2004
9) Poetry collection Murmures de vent later publsihed in Danish as Hviskende brise (Whispering winds) 2005
10) New Cookbook Til glæde for ganen - nye opskrifter til et kongeligt køkken (For the pleasure of taste - new recipes from a royal kitchen) 2005
11) Prinsens Lette Livretter - Prince Henrik's 1999 cookbook with all proceeds for the Danish Heart Association of which Mary is now patron (the same was for Ikke Altid Gåseleve).

Website for the book - a bit limited, but has some beautiful photos on pages in the book.

Some covers:

Berlingske Tidende (in Danish)- about the 350 years of court cooking, 350-year-old "shopping lists" and a 17 century French cookbook. Frederik III's July 1668 party with 58 courses was prepared by a team of French cooks employed by the court to teach Danish cooks how to cook with these completetly new and revolutionary ideas.
And according to the Prince Consort they remained French cooks at the royal court, which was an historical moment leading to current modern gastronomy.
When the historian Barbara Zelewski recently found the purchase lists for the extravagant 17th century table, she found "the key" to the actual menu from a copy of the important French cookery book
Le Cuisinier françois from 1664, which inspired the Prince Consort to re-create the recipes from King Frederik III's summer table.
And it was a table which has surprising similarity with the royal kitchen today.
"The French cooks menu from at the time resembles one I might put together today," Prince Henrik said in connection with the presentation of the book yesterday at Fredensborg Palace, where he cheerfully added that he hoped that the large press contingent would "take the wind out of the election campaign".
"Many of the recipes my wife and I have had over the course of time, we have had on the table without realising that they had already been on the royal table in the 17th century. We have tasted the recipes based on the old recipes - served as at the time in the 17th century, and found many recipes came out the same on our table now. That gives a chance to combine the meal based on personal taste and appetite and then discover surprising combinations."
In the book the Prince Consort is publishing recipes for 35 courses based on the old French chef's lists of fresh ingredients.
Many of them are daily fare today, but at the time they were special and expensive.
Mushrooms and vegetables were the height of fashion, and green peas and cauliflowers were, for instance, completely new in France at the time.
But in the royal kitchen gardens in Copenhagen, the French chefs apparently found everything they needed, and Frederik and Queen Sophie Amalie certainly had their finger on the pulse of the times.
They arranged both the Royal Court and the large organisaton of royal housekeeping after the newest French fashions, the historian Barbara Zalewski commented. In the book she also puts the meal into the baroque context and comments on the waste that went on in the royal apartments, in the Baroque kitchen and the huge amount of housekeeping in the palace in Copenhagen.
You can read about the sumptuousness of the ingredients, about kitchen scribes, court butchers and purveyors to His Majesty, not least to the French and Danish cooks, as well as the waste in the kitchen areas on ordinary days, during royal travelling and at parties.
Not all the 58 original recipes from king Frederik III's table are included in the book.
That is because, for instance, today you must not eat songbirds, and these days nobody would make a dish of fried ducklings or a stew with ram kidneys. And this isn't even mentioning anything about serving bull testicles.
But otherwise, according to the Prince Consort, there are many points of similarity between that time and now:
* At the time it was not acceptable to eat too much garlic, and just as today, the recipes were to be uncomplicated, which isn't the same as simple.
* One got the best out of the fresh ingredients.
* In this way the art was in timing, just as it is now.
* In addition the recipes were meant to be a sensory experience - and also visually," the Prince consort said and mentioned that chicken in asparagus is one of his Danish favourite recipes.
"Also these recipes were originally French, just like so many others," the Prince Consort smiled and then answered when he was questioned about what to drink to accompany such a royal buffet.
"You have to drink French wines - and especially Cahors wines of course!"
The Royal Court's chef Jesper Vollmer joined together with his employers and worked on the old recipes, so that they both are contemporary and "taste of tradition at the same time."
"But we have also had to alter some of the show dishes."
"That is because of concerns about, for instance, a recipe with a cows head with crayfish sticking out of the ears.
Today you cannot buy cows heads, so we have redone the ingredients ...instead.
Because it wasn't necessarily the case that everything was edible."
In return the recipes can be seen in
Entirely magnifigue! and they are both edible and very appetising.

DR1 video clip (1:58)


Today is election day in Denmark and it appears it is a tight race! The royals don't vote, but Alexandra, countess of Frederiksborg, has indicated she may vote (in a statement through her secretary to B.T.).
See Earth Times 'Former Danish Princess Alexandra mulls voting in upcoming polls'

B.T. reports today that Alexandra will not vote. Since her sons are royal and the royals do not vote to maintain their non-partisanship, Alexandra's secretary Julie Vibe Michelsen has clarified that Alexandra will not exercise her right to vote. There has been quite a lot of comment about the prospect of Alexandra voting, including from the Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. There has been some comment too about the notion that she has always had the right to vote (this may have been an error by her secretary, who has spoken to B.T. on the subject). All experts agree that the Danish royals do not vote. B.T. speculates that Alexandra has discussed the issue with Prince Joachim and it is decided she will respect the fact that her sons are royal, part of the royal house always, and that it would therefore be inappropriate for her to vote.

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