Friday, July 25, 2008


They were introduced into France by Marie-Antoinette. According to Catherine Delors:
The etiquette required the King and Queen to take some of their meals in public, in front of the courtiers and visitors. Anyone decently dressed was admitted in Versailles, and many came to the Palace to watch the royal couple eat.

The Marquise de La Tour du Pin, who was a lady-in-waiting to Marie-Antoinette, attended those occasions. She notes in her Memoirs that “the King ate with a hearty appetite, but the Queen did not remove her gloves, nor did she unfold her napkin, in which she was very ill-advised.”

Marie-Antoinette literally did not touch her food. This attitude was construed as a mark of contempt for the assembly. The Queen thus unwittingly reinforced her image as a distant, haughty woman.

But those were the meals she took - or rather did not take - in public. Did Marie-Antoinette enjoy food in a more private setting? Let us listen to what Madame Campan, her First Chambermaid, says in this regard:

“[Marie-Antoinette] usually ate nothing but roast or boiled poultry and drank nothing but water. The only things of which she was particularly fond were her morning coffee and a sort of bread to which she had grown accustomed during her childhood in Vienna.”

So Marie-Antoinette, for breakfast, her most intimate, pleasurable food moment, preferred coffee. And what is Madame Campan referring to when she speaks of that sort of bread? Well, croissants, of course!


J.K. Baltzersen said...

Interesting, madam! Thank you!

I noticed the eating in public when watching Marie Antoinette in the movie theater.

I then noticed the eating with hat on. Did they really do that.

We nowadays -- or at least until recently, when the distasteful custom of eating with caps on has become so popular -- have our hats off before eating.

Any reflections would be greatly appreciated.

Again, thank you!

elena maria vidal said...

You are welcome, Mr.Baltzersen. Unfortunately, the Coppola film was quite uneven in its portrayal of palace etiquette. Oh, I would think that gentlemen would remove their hats when eating, except possibly the King.

Anonymous said...

Croissants! Ô là, là! Ma faiblesse mortelle! En fait, il n'y rien de mieux qu'un bon café et un croissant le matin.

elena maria vidal said...

Oui, mon père. D'accord!

Supernova Girl said...

(Not related to the post)

Wow, I really like this blog. It's rare to find a blog written in a Catholic perspective (opposed to secular) and it's about Marie Antoinette/French Revolution/etc., my historical obsession.

Keep up the good work!

J.K. Baltzersen said...

Oh, I would think that gentlemen would remove their hats when eating, except possibly the King.

I was primarily thinking about Louis XVI. Although I do not recall if it was as Prince of Dauphin or King of France.

elena maria vidal said...

Oh, yes, I remember that scene. It seems to me he would have had a page holding his hat while he was eating.

elena maria vidal said...

Thanks, Supernova Girl!