Tsar (King) of Bulgaria
It’s not often a royal menu boasts an offering of Alpine Ibex as its central course. But when King Ferdinand I of Bulgaria hosted a dinner at his private hunting palace high up in the Rila Mountains, it stood to reason that the royal chefs would impress with an offering of local game meats.
The King’s dinner guest was Europe’s most famous and enthusiastic hunter: the Emperor of Germany. So keen was the Bulgarian King to impress his imperial visitor that the menu-cards placed before dinner guests were sycophantically written in German.
This dinner took place in October 1917 when World War I was not going as the two monarch’s had planned. Indeed, the war had little over a year to go; and so did their respective reigns.
It was reported that Bulgarians were tiring of the war: with food shortages and soaring prices leading to civil unrest and open questioning of the country’s alliance with Germany.
The Kaiser’s visit was designed to galvanise support for the war effort; but before the official receptions and ceremonies took place in the nation’s capital, Sofia, King Ferdinand I and the German Emperor retreated to the Rila Moutnains for spot of shooting.
This dinner took place at King Ferdinand’s private hunting palace, Tsarska Bistritsa, which he built for himself between 1898 and 1914. Today the palace sits above the ski-resort town of Borovets. The alpine forests surrounding the palace were filled with red-deer, roe-deer, wild boar and alpine ibex – a species of wild goat.
It is likely that the Alpine Ibex on this menu was shot by Kaiser Wilhelm II himself. The Kaiser’s eldest son, the Crown Prince of Germany, was also a hunting enthusiast and once recalled of this rare game “the number of sportsmen in Europe who have spanned the horns of an ibex is very small”.
The second course on this menu is also likely to have been compiled from the offerings of the surrounding hunting estates: a terrine made from wild-boar and rabbit. However the dessert of Köstliches von Walsee (delicacies from Walsee) is possibly to have been some treats brought along by the Kaiser himself given that Walsee is in southern Germany.
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Königliches Jagdschloss Tsarska Bistritsa,
den 12. Oktober 1917
Royal Hunting Palace Tsarska Bistritsa,
on 12th October 1917
Fresh green-pea soup
Pastetchen auf Reichen Art
A terrine of red and white layers made separately from cured wild boar and rabbit force-meat flavored with truffles.
Backstrap of Alpine Ibex (Gemeiner Steinbock) served with a Cumberland sauce made from port, lemon and orange juice and zest and redcurrant jelly
Köstliches von Walsee
Delicassies from Walsee
Menu dated 12th October 1917
Dinner at the Royal Hunting Palace, Tsarska Bistritsa (in the Rila Mountains of south-west Bulgaria), hosted by His Majesty Tsar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria in honor of a visit by His Imperial and Royal Majesty Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany and Prussia
Tsar Ferdinand I and Kaiser Wilhelm II in Sofia in 1917