Menu dated: Christmas Eve, 24th December 1907
Christmas Eve luncheon at the Neues Palais, Potsdam, hosted by Their Imperial and Royal Majesties Kaiser Wilhelm II and Kaiserin Augusta-Victoria of Germany and Prussia.
Giant “Blue Carp” along with other traditional festive season dishes appeared at this Christmas Eve banquet hosted by the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II, at his palace in 1907.
This day, known as Bescherung to the Germans, is dedicated to gift giving ahead of Christmas Day itself. And, true to this tradition, each year on the 24th December the Emperor invited members of his royal court and senior military officials to this grand banquet.
Among other traditional festive dishes on this menu are the desserts which included a poppy-seed and vanilla pudding called Mohnpielen along with Mince Pies, which were likely the influence of the Kaiser’s English-born mother.
The English Governess to the Imperial children, Anne Topham, remembered how “monster carp are brought round boiled in ale, looking plethoric and porpoise-like”.
The meal ended with “mince-pies served with flaming brandy sauce” recalled the Governess who also remembered how “the German gentlemen are not at all fond of plum-pudding - they think it horrible stuff; but they like the mince-pies, especially the brandy-sauce part”.
As soon as this banquet was over, and on the Emperor’s command, the doors to the shell-hall (Muschel-Saal) were flung open- so-named because of the glittering stones, shells, marble and quartz encrusted into the walls and floor. Amongst the candles, decorations and tinsel stood a magnificent array of Christmas trees – one for each guest.
To the side of each tree was a small table with each guest’s gift from the Emperor which regularly included a fur or jewellery for the ladies; or vases, silverware or even a bronze bust of the Emperor for the gentlemen.
“A large plate of nuts, cakes and chocolates accompanies each table”, recounted the Governess, “and those gentlemen who have to return to Berlin early may presently be seen, aided by footmen, pouring their nuts and gingerbread into large brown-paper bags, which they carry away under one arm, for all the world like children from a Sunday-school treat. This procession of grey-haired generals and officers in uniform going off like schoolboys with their booty seems to afford the Emperor much pleasure”, she remembered.
Consommé, creamed rice
Karpfen, blau und in Bier
Giant carp - reportedly 4 foot-long at the Emperor's banquets - that have not been scaled before being plunged into hot vinegar and then cooked in a beer and vegetabe stock. The chemical reaction of the vinegar and unscaled fish skin causing a blue glow effect.
Kalbsnierenstück mit Gemüse
Veal tenderloin with vegetables
Wachtelbrüstche mit Frischen Trüffeln
Quail breasts with fresh truffles
Poularden, Früchte, Salat
Roast Poulardes (young hens from which the oviducts have been removed), fruits compotes and salads.
Also known as Makówki: Poppy-seed, raisin and vanilla pudding made from milk, rum, cinnamon and thickened with bread
Neues Palais (New Palace) at Potsdam: the venue for this Christmas Eve banquet hosted by Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany.