Emperor of Austria-Hungary
Menu dated: 9th May 1881
Dinner at the Hofburg Palace, Vienna, hosted by Their Imperial and Royal Apostolic Majesties Emperor Franz-Joseph and Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary to celebrate the marriage of their son, His Imperial Highness Archduke Rudolf to Her Royal Highness Princess Stéphanie of Belgium.
Stuffed woodcocks garnished with truffles and cocks' combs; pastries filled with a purée of lark’s breasts; an elborate pudding of sliced pig’s kidney with prunes steeped in red wine and then flamed in rum; and lobster medallions arranged back in the shell and dressed with a mushroom Bechamel sauce, all featured at this imperial wedding banquet for the man who was supposed to become the next Hapsburg' Emperor of Austria-Hungary.
For the first time ever guests at this very dinner were treated to the sounds of Eduard Strauss's especially composed Vienesse waltz titled 'Schleier und Krone' (Veil and Crown); and as they soaked in the glamour and splendour of this palace banquet, the Emperor's guests could never have imagined they were witness to an imperial marriage that would end in the suicide of the dashing groom who was heir to the mighty Austro-Hungarian throne.
The groom, Crown Prince Rudolf, would eventually tire of his princess wife and fall in love with a seventeen year-old baroness almost half his age. When his Emperor father told him to stop seeing his mistress the Crown Prince would shoot his lover dead before turning the gun on himself at the imperial hunting lodge, Mayerling.
But on this day in 1881 it was celebrations all round without so much as a hint of the tragedy that would follow. The wedding itself took place on the 10 May at the Church of Saint Augustine in Vienna. But the dinner to celebrate the marriage was held the night before at the Hofburg Palace hosted by the groom’s parents, the Emperor and Empress themselves, and attended by the bride’s parents who were the King and Queen of the Belgians.
Also attending this dinner were the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Germany (the future Emperor Frederick III and Empress Viktoria ), the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII of the United Kingdom) and Prince Wilhelm of Prussia (the future Emperor William II of Germany).
One of the Emperor Franz Joseph's closest confidants, Baron von Margutti recalled how the:
‘marriage was hatched by the diplomats and the Emperor was all fire and flame for it. To him, a legitimist fanatic, it meant fresh splendors for his glorious dynasty. Into his House came a King's daughter who was related to nearly all the royal families of the day.’
But the Empress thought otherwise and for quite a long time withheld her consent for the marriage.
'She positively hated the King of the Belgians,’ recalled Margutti ‘and had no sort of liking for his wife, the insignificant and colorless Queen Henriette. Nor did [Empress] Elisabeth think much of Princess Stéphanie. She considered her education too shallow and her nature too frivolous.’
From the private Royal Menu Collection of © Jake Smith
Wedding Couple: Archduke Rudolf and
Wedding Procession: the royal Belgian bride arrives in Vienna on the morning of this dinner in 1881.
Potage à la Reine
Chicken consommé thickened with tapioca and garnished with shredded chicken cooked in court-bouillon (aromatic stock) and diced Royale (a savoury custard made from egg, chervil and chicken consommé)
Petites croûtes aux mauviettes
Small puff-pastries filled with a mousse made from puréed larks breasts, topped with a thin slice of truffle and then garnished with mirepoix made from minced ham, celery, carrot and onion.
Truites, sauce Hollandaise
Trout with a Hollandaise sauce made from eggs, butter and lemon juice
Piéce et filet de boeuf
Filet of beef
Timbale de bécasses à la financière
Stuffed woodcocks glazed in their own juices mixed with Madeira and Cognac which are then arranged on croutons and garnished with sliced truffles, cocks combs and a Financière sauce made from ham, herbs, Madeira and truffles.
Escalopes de homards à la Maintenon
Medalions of lobster meat served in a Maintenon sauce made from mushrooms, onion and a thickened Bechamel sauce.
Poulardes à la polanaise, Salade
Sautéed chicken breasts covered with lemon and breadcrumbs served with red cabbage, braised chestnuts and salad
Asperges en branches
Pouding à la Chipolata
A savory pudding made from sliced pig’s kidney flamed in rum, prunes steeped in red wine, chipolata sausgaes and macaroni and then served with a Charcutiere sauce made from onions, white wine and diced gherkins.
Moscovite aux oranges
Sponge cake soaked in kirsch topped with a dome of orange segments soaked in orange-blossom water mixed with cream
Fromage National et Chester
Austrian cheeses and Chester cheese
Galces aux griottes et fromage de dames
Ice-cream with morello cherries mascerated in kirsch and ice-cream cake.
Groom's Mother: Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) of Austria-Hungary
Married: Princess Stéphanie and Archduke Rudolf