Menu dated 12th February 1896
Buffet at the Abdine Palace, Cairo, hosted by His Highness Khedive Abbas II of Egypt.
There was no hiding the Khedivial passion for shooting and eating game birds at this palace buffet in 1896.
As guests danced away to the late hours at Cairo’s Abdine Palace, servants in the adjoining dining rooms layed out tables spread high with pies filled with a ragout of snipe; whole deboned and stuffed roast grouse; pheasants encased in a layer of foie-gras and drizzled in Madeira; and delicate woodcocks dressed with truffles and cockscombs.
The host was the twenty-one year old Khedive Abbas II of Egypt who had recently become ruler as the last viceroy under the Ottoman Empire.
At the dining table "the Khedive always sits in the centre of one of the longer sides, with a vacant space right and left", recounted an English tutor at the Egyptian court. "The places nearest him were occupied by two of the chief pashas, such as the Keeper of the Seals and the Grand Master of the Ceremonies; then came the rest of the company in order of dignity".
"Coffee and cigarettes were always brought by black servants; on receiving either it is customary to salute one's host, though not in any ostentatious manner", recounted the palace tutor.
A Khedivial ball was the social highlight of Cairo where ‘the perfection of organization both inside and outside the palace surprised everyone’, recalled the Cairo correspondent for The Graphic who attended one such event in 1895.
“Although comparatively very few servants were en evidence, yet in some mysterious way everything was done for the visitors, and in such a quiet manner, that it suggested some Arabian tale of magic where things are done by enchantment”, recounted the correspondent.
“The Khedive received and shook hands with his guests in a reception room near the head of the stairs leading from the principal entrance, and his welcome was both dignified and cordial.
“The band was the Khedive’s own military band, which played in a gallery over the harem screens. The screens ran alongside the ballroom, which in the height of modernity were illuminated by electric lights, where the ‘women of the palace’ could look out at all the merriment without being seen themselves.
‘At midnight while the strains of the barn dance drew the crowd into the ballroom,’ recalled the Cairo correspondent, ‘the supper room was opened and the Khedive, with some Egyptian Princes and the most distinguished visitors present, passed into supper.’
It is likely this palace ball and buffet was attended by member's of Cairo's diplomatic set as part of the festivities associated with Abbas II opening the Legislative General Assembly, two days earlier, where he was "warmly chhered upon making his appearance", The Times assured its readers.
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Consommé de volaille en tasse
Individual cups of diced jellied chicken consommé served cold and topped with cream
Filets d'ombrine en belle-vue
Filets of ombrine (a large silver and blue Mediterranean fish) served cold and glazed in aspic jelly named after the Château Belleville owned by Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of France
Galantine de chapons de Styrie
Bread crusts rubbed with garlic, olive oil and vinegar topped with a combination of minced capons, game meats and veal bound with egg and spices and glazed with aspic jelly
Côtelettes d'agneau à la muscovite
Lamb cutlets in a Muscovite Sauce made from white wine, pepper, pine nuts, sultanas and juniper berries
Pâtés froids de bécassines
Cold pies made from snipe meat (a small bird similar to woodcock)
Suprême de poulardes à la Beauharnais
Baked breast and wing of chicken brushed with lemon butter, topped with truffle slices and garnished with stuffed mushrooms and sautéed artichoke hearts named after Countess Fanny de Beauharnais, cousin by marriage to Empress Josephine (wife of Emperor Napoleon I of France)
Filet de bœuf à la parisienne
Sirloin of beef garnished with potatoes and served with braised lettuce and artichoke hearts topped with pickled tongue, mushrooms and sliced truffles
Médaillons de foie gras de Strasbourg
Braised medallions of foie-gras (force fed geese livers) deglazed with a Madeira flavored sauce
Langues à la moderne
Lamb tongues garnished with stuffed braised lettuce and cabbage
Chaufroix de bécasses Lucullus
Cold dish of Woodcocks stuffed with foie gras (force fed geese livers) and truffles, deglazed in Madeira sauce garnished with truffles poached in Madeira with cock’s combs and livers named after Roman General Lucullus.
De-boned pheasants covered in a mixture of foie gras (force fed geese livers) and truffles wrapped in caul coated in breadcrumbs, fried and served on a bed of puréed lentils and drizzled in a sauce made from Madeira and pan juices named after French Magistrate Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Coqs de bruyére rotis
Asperges en branches
Salade à la russe
A mould of aspic jelly consisting of diced potatoes, carrots, turnips, beans and peas garnished with pickled tongue, truffles and diced lobster meat
Bavarois à la Montmorency
Sponge cake topped with sour Montmorency cherries covered with Italian Meringue and topped wih crystallized cherries
Savarin aux fruits
Rum-baba with fruits
Dinner host: His Highness Abbas II, Khedive of Egypt
Abdine Palace, Cairo, 1898
Khedivial Ball at the Abdine Palace, circa 1898, with the orchestra playing above the curtained-off Harem