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Menu

Potage Balzac

Veal consommé, with poached balls of turnip, poured around three mousse timbales - one each of chicken, prawn and green peas that have been blended with bechamel sauce and steamed

 

Timbales Milanaise

Timbales of buttered macaroni and cheese dressed in a tomato sauce and garnished with ham, pickled tongue and slices of truffle

 

Filet de bœuf Gladiateur

Filets of beef wrapped in prosciutto

 

Poulardes aux truffes

Young hens (spayed and especially fattened and

not less than 120 days old) roasted with truffle slices tucked between the breast and skin

 

Délices de bécasses à la gelée

Cold parcels of roast woodcock breast wrapped around a truffle slice and a mound of creamed mousse - made from pounding the woodcock intestine with foie-gras, butter, nutmeg and brandy – and then sealed in a layer of game aspic jelly

 

Petits pois à la Française

Baby peas cooked with shredded lettuce and tossed in butter

 

Cailles farcies sur croȗtons

Boned quails stuffed with forcemeat mixed with chicken-livers, that have been deglazed in their own pan juices mixed with Madeira; and served atop a croȗton

 

Pâté de Colmar

Small pie-shaped tartlets topped with anchovy fillets, a dollop of anchovy cream and a splash of whisked egg with parsley

 

Glace Plombiere

Individual pyramid-shaped ice-creams - served on small glass plates - made from custard, crushed almonds and whipped cream; and encrusted with delicately arranged crystallised fruits that have been steeped in Kirsch; and then drizzled in an apricot jam sauce

Menu dated 2nd March 1903



Dinner at the Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, hosted by the Sovereign Pontiff, His Holiness Pope Leo XIII, for the Silver Jubilee of his Pontificate.

Pleasing the papal palate was normally a relatively simple task. Pope Leo XIII had humble tastes and was well satisfied with soup and eggs and occasionally a little meat, all washed down with a glass of Bordeaux that came, gratis, from nuns at a convent in Gironde.

 

He also enjoyed a good salad heavily laced with balsamic. But his killjoy physician, Dr Lapponi, forbade the lashings of vinegar as the Pope’s health waned with age.

 

With the papal belly contented, His Holiness would take a short nap before the sediari pontifici (papal chair-bearers) carried him aloft to his glistening black landau, with red wheels and lined in white damask, for a drive to catch some fresh evening air.

 

These papal simplicities, however, were paused for a few days in March 1903 when the ninety-three-year-old Holy Father celebrated the silver jubilee of his Pontificate.

 

Over 70,000 well-wishers converged on the Vatican for the jubilee mass at St. Peters Basilica on 3rd March – twenty-five years to the day since he was crowned in the Sistine Chapel.

 

The night before the jubilee Leo XIII hosted this dinner for over 50 members of the Sacred College of Cardinals. The night coincided with his birthday and was also likely attended by a handful of faithful royal guests who had arrived for the Jubilee, including the Crown Princess of Sweden and Norway; the Grand Duchesses of Saxe-Weimar and Mecklenburg; the Prince of Lichtenstein; Prince Maximillian of Saxony; and Prince and Princess Mirko of Montenegro.

 

Even before the first morsel was served, it was clear the dinner would be a breathtakingly opulent one. The Papal arms had been embossed in gold on each menu-card with even the typeface printed in gold-leaf.

 

Served alongside the stuffed quails and truffled roasted hens, was a culinary gem called Délices de bécasses à la gelée. These cold delicacies started with a center of shredded roast woodcock meat wrapped around a truffle slice; and then an outer layer of foie-gras mousse flavored with Cognac and pounded woodcock intestine, before being sealed in a thin layer of aspic jelly. Given his advanced age, it is doubtful the Pope indulged too much in the culinary fare on offer to his faithful guests.

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Pope Leo XIII in the papal landau

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