[Before we get started, I’d like to say that the title of this post does not apply to either of my housemates who may be reading this.]
I’ve been cooking a lot lately. I’m on a little bit of a health kick right now. Trying to kick my Goldfish habit (it’s so hard I can’t do it anymore I hate it so much healthy food is stupid I love goldfish). But it turns out that I also really love to cook. And eat. I really love eating. So when I’m procrastinating on my thesis, or feeling guilty about the fact that I’m not writing a post for the blog, I’m looking up new recipes on my awesome Epicurious iPhone app, or pinning things to my “To Cook.” board on Pinterest (I know I’m a year late to the Pinterest parade, but I’m so fuckin into it, I’m like its number one baton twirler). And when I’m not doing all of that, I’m actually cooking. It’s kind of awesome. If you had told freshman LHB that in 3 years the highlight of her day would be coming home from a few hours at the library or rehearsal to cook dinner for her three male housemates, she would have spit out whatever boxed wine was in her mouth and laughed in your face until she peed a little in her pants (not enough to have to change, but like, you know, enough).
In my cooking frenzy of the past two weeks, I started to wonder, “Have there been any sexually scandalous chefs?” (Because even when not actively blogging I’m still thinking about our blog baby, ok? Blaby!) So I did some research. Turns out, no, not really. Same sort of thing as when I tried to find a scandalous mountaineer and all that showed up was that some asshole had an affair once and it wasn’t really a big deal. Except this time around, all I found was a helpful list of chefs from antiquity to the 20th century (thank you, Wiki) who were all apparently celibate. (A la Bobby Flay on account of his extreme douchery.) The problem is that very little is known about these historical chefs other than their contributions to cooking. (Although I did read about a guy who apparently committed suicide during a dinner for 2,000 people because the fish course was late. Gives a whole new meaning to “Please pack your knives and go,” doesn’t it?) But did you know that we, posterity that is, know who figured out that potatoes were edible for humans? And that there is a guy who is credited for making the first bisque?
True story. His name is Francois Pierre La Varenne and he was the first guy to write down and thus record the culinary innovations of 17th century France. Apparently French food in 16th century was cooked in the Italian tradition and used many heavy and exotic foreign spices that were popular in the Middle Ages. These zingy “ethnic” (uh oh) flavors were thrown out in favor of local herbs and vegetables. YUM! I think we all know who loves shit like that. Anyway, FPLV’s book Le Cuisinier standardized and codified French cooking for the next several hundred years. Kind of impressive. In this book, you can find the first recipe for bisque, the first instance of the concept of a reduction, the first time somebody suggested using a roux as the base for a sauce instead of breadcrumbs, and the idea that it might be better to use butter instead of lard for cooking things. DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT SOMEBODY THOUGHT OF ALL OF THIS AND WROTE IT DOWN? I just thought that the magical kitchen gods somehow imparted that knowledge onto everyone at the Food Network who in turn told all of the world. What the fuck. Mind blown.
Unfortunately, not a lot is known about Francoise Pierre’s life. But if I were to guess, he definitely seduced and had hot kitchen sex with a princess or two while he was working in the kitchens at the court of Marie de Medici. He most likely did not waste his time trying to lay her highness because bitch was the second wife of Henry IV of France and you don’t want to mess with that shit. Even if you’re destined to write the most important cook book in history.
You guys deserve something juicier than the pear tart recipe that I’ll share with you at the end of this. (YES. IT’S COMING.) So, even though Frank Pierre didn’t engage in historio-sexual intrigue THAT WE KNOW OF, the hoity-toity people he cooked for definitely did, and we’ll talk about them for a minute so you can get your scandal fix for the week. I also feel that he’s inextricably linked with courtly scandal of the time because I like to think that some really inappropriate dining room table sex happened on or around food that he prepared.
Marie de Medici’s hubby, HIV (OH SHIT, not HIV as in positive…okay, I’ll have to write it out), Henry IV, was assassinated the day after her coronation. How convenient. She wound up acting as regent for her son Louis XIII for the next four years (convenient again). At the time of her husband’s assassination, they had already been married for 10 years . I don’t know why they do it that way. You know how the French are. And their marriage was rough, to say the least.
See, H.4 (not to be confused with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), already had a couple of mistresses from his previous marriage. If that makes any sense. The French, amiright?! And he had promised one of them, Catherine Henriette de Balzac d’Entragues, that he would marry her once his official numero uno mistress, Gabrielle d’Estrees, was dead. How French of him. But instead he married Marie de Medici (employer of Pierre, our little chef) and Catherine was not at all pleased.
In fact, she was pretty pissed off. So P-O-ed, in fact, that she was found complicit in a plot against the king that was foiled in 1606. She got off with a little slap on the wrist. “Hey, it’s bad to be involved in plots that involve killing the king/your lover (ew). Don’t let it happen again!” Catherine and Marie, mistress and wife, apparently had yelling matches in the halls of the palace where Marie was known to use “language that shocked French courtiers.” And if you’re shocking French courtiers, you know things are really saucy (food pun!). I mean, these people invented blowie jays for chrissake.
Catherine apparently didn’t listen to the little reprimand of 1606 because even though she had been taken back by the king as number one mistress, she seems to have been involved in the successful assassination plot of 1610, in which she may or may not have made a dealio with the Spanish to recognize her bastard son as King. Woopsies. Moral of the story: Kings, if you have a mistress who tried to kill you once, there’s a good chance she’ll try to do it again. Maybe banish her or something?
Because that’s exactly what mama Marie did as soon as she was named Regent. Seriously. Bitch got the crowned, signed the papers, and said “Get that whore out of France.” Then she turned to Francoise Pierre la Varenne and said, “Hey you, cook who wrote the book about the cooking. Bring me some cream puffs.” And he did.
ALSO: SHOUT-OUT TO MRG WHO TURNS 22 TODAY! (Making her the eldest and wisest scandalizer of us all.) Jason Segel, JAF and I all hope you have a great day! Happy Birthday!!
My grocery store has a sale on pears write now, so go out, buy some pears and make this:
Quick (Pear) Tart — Tart is a synonym for a loose woman and quick refers to the amount of time it takes someone to have sex. That’s why it’s funny. Explaining jokes is the worst.
- 1/4 cup raw sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- 1/2 stick butter, melted
- 2 (15 1/4-ounce) cans pear halves, keeping stem end attached, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon together. Lay puff pastry sheet on a work surface brush with melted butter and sprinkle with half the cinnamon sugar. Cut into 6 even pieces. Fan the pear slices over the puff pastry, using 1/2 a pear for each puff pastry square. Sprinkle tops of pear tarts with remaining cinnamon sugar mixture. Bake until pastry is golden and cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from tart from oven, sprinkle with cheese and bake until cheese melts, 5 minutes more.