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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cafe society

Risky Regencies recently had a lovely post about ice cream and the Regency. The post linked to an essay on the ice cream cone and its date of inception. The relatively famous print of Le Cafe Frascati by PL Debucourt from 1807 is cited as proof as in the lower right hand corner a woman licks something that looks like an ice cream cone.
I pulled out my La Rousse Gastromonique to find out more and became immersed in the world of cafes.
A few of the long established cafes exist -- Caffe Florian (1720) and Caffe Quadri (1775) St Mark's Square Venice, Caffe Greco(1760) in Rome (which I have been to) and Cafe Procope in Paris. It should be admitted that Cafe Procope was reestablished in 1952 on the same site of Cafe Procope.
But what of the other cafes? Is there any trace?
Frascati was the most famous gaming house in Paris during the Directory and Second Empire, according to La Rousse. It was founded in 1796 and it did indeed sell ice cream.
Cafe de Foy (1725) is where Desmoulins harguaned the crowd before setting off the next day for the Bastille. It remained fashionable until 1820. Grimod de la Reyniere cites "smoked wood panels, dim gothic chandeliers, cups without handles and cracked glasses..."
Cafe des Paris -- the first one was opened in 1822 on Boulevard des Italiens. the owner of the property , the Marchioness of Hertford specified that its doors had to close at 10pm. It was regarded as a temple of elegance, but closed its doors in 1856. A second Cafe de Paris opened on Avenue de l'Opera in 1878 and finally shut in 1953. Its patrons included the Prince of Wales (Edward VII).
Cafe Hardy which opened in 1799 served the first English breakfasts in Paris after 1804. According to La Rousse, customers would select their choice of meat from a buffet, the waiter would skewer it and have it broiled on a silver grill in a white marble fireplace. Cambacres said -- You need to be very rich to go to Hardy and very hardy to go to Riche ( another cafe).
And finally I will stop with Cafe du Caveau (1784) in the Beaujolais gallery at the Palais Royal, a haunt of artists. After 1802, it was possible to the table where Bonparte had eaten. It closed in 1885.
There are of course others. But I was intrigued. I like learning about old restaurants and hotels.

1 comment:

Kate Hardy said...

Fascinating stuff, Michelle.

And Cafe Hardy. I like the sound of that :o) (At the moment, I have a heroine who's a cook, and I'm messing about with fusion food. It involves pomegranates. And that led to research on Jo Malone toiletries...)