“Delicious” tells how the birth of restaurants changed French cuisine


CINEMA – In theaters this Wednesday, September 8, the film “Delicious recounts the creation of the first restaurant in France. the HuffPost took place the opportunity to meet Grégory Gadebois (Pierre Mançeron), Isabelle Carré (Louise), Benjamin Laverhne (Duc de Chamfort) and Jean-Charles Karmann, culinary advisor for this feature film by Éric Besnard. Even if the director allowed himself to take certain liberties with the story, certain elements are true, as you can see in the video at the top of the article.

“Délicieux” tells this page of history through the eyes of Pierre Mançeron. Initially the Duke of Chamfort’s chef, he will be fired for having committed an irreversible fault. Played by Gregory Gadebois, the chef will serve the Duke and his table one of his new recipes based on potatoes and truffles, two foods that the nobility forbids. “This recipe is revolutionary because it is scandalous. It is made from potatoes and truffles, which are foods that come from the earth, so they are not noble”, explains Benjamin Lavernhe at the microphone of the HuffPost.

The cuisine of the lower classes, we don’t cook, we don’t eat, we eat.

One of the big differences between the cuisine of yesterday and today is that “good” cuisine was not reserved for everyone. Isabelle Carré says: “Good food was really the privilege of the nobles. And it was even a time when they had so much more power and prerogative that it was through their cooks that they made themselves shine.”.

At that time, food was only used by peasants to have enough strength to go to work. The pleasure of taste was unknown or forbidden to them. And certain foods, such as potatoes or truffles, were even reserved for them. “At the time, you had two kitchens. The aristocratic cuisine, and the cuisine of the lower classes. So, the cuisine of the lower classes, we don’t cook, we don’t eat, we feed ourselves. You have to go to the fields, so you just need invigorating meals,” adds Jean-Charles Karmann.

Gray flour and hay chicken

A fairly logical element to take into account between the differences of yesterday and today is the quality of the products. The progress that has been made since then makes the kitchen ever easier to access. But back then, simple ingredients like flour were different. Jean-Charles Karmann, in his role as culinary advisor, managed to source this component for the film. “When you work with old flour, flour that is borderline gray, it does not react the same to cooking or working.”

One of the popular meals of the 18th century, and which we see appearing several times in “Délicieux”, is chicken au hay. A recipe that consists of placing poultry in a casserole dish filled with hay to give a particular flavor to its meal. This technique is very little known today and is considered a recipe for history books.

In terms of service, the first restaurants in France also brought something new and special for the time. The French, accustomed to seeing their table filled with the food they wanted, like a large buffet, saw the arrival of “Russian service”. After ordering a dish, we did not receive his plate already prepared as today. The dishes were sometimes brought straight from the pan, so as not to let the food get cold, and to let the customer judge the quality of the food he ordered. The dressing was then done directly at the table. This tradition has almost disappeared in France, except in certain restaurants which are illustrated in the show and the demonstration.

Freedoms for the sake of history

Éric Besnard, the director of the film, took some liberties with reality. The first restaurant created in France was not located in the provinces, but in Paris. Around ten restaurants were created during the same period in the Palais-Royal district. “The film tells the story of the restaurant concept, more than the creation of the first place. The first restaurant was not in Cantal. It was not this inn that turned into a restaurant”, argues Benjamin Lavernhe.

For the director, it was necessary to tell the story of French cuisine through something other than Paris. Isabelle Carré understands this point of view and adopts it: “What is certain is that cooking is the terroir, it is the regions. When we talk about French cuisine, that’s it. We are not talking about Parisian cuisine. It’s all our specialties that make our international name, so it was just that it happens on this part of the way there, on the ground, far from everything.

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