Epigrams, What do those taste like?

Carlton Kitchens

Definition of EPIGRAM

1: A concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event and often ending with an ingenious turn of thought

Benjamin Franklin’s famous epigram, “Remember that time is money”

– Merriam Webster Dictionary

Definition of EPIGRAM, in food terms

1A French dish consisting of two slices of lamb, usually a slice from the breast and a chop, cook then breaded and fried.

Phileas Gilbert (1857 – 1942), famous Chef who collaborated with Escoffier on le Guide Culinaire relates the origins of the culinary dish ‘Epigrammes’:

“It was towards the middle of the 18th century.  One day a young marquise overheard one of her guests at the table remark that when he was dining the previous evening with the Comte de Vaudreuil, he was charmingly received and, furthermore, had had a feast of excellent epigrams.  The marquise, though pretty and elegant, was somewhat ignorant of the meaning of the words.  She later summoned Michelet, her Chef.  ‘Michelet,’ she said to him, ‘tomorrow, I shall require a dish of Epigrammes.’

The Chef withdrew, pondering the problem.  He looked up old recipes, but found no reference to anything of the kind.  None of his colleagues had ever heard of the dish.  But no French master Chef is ever at a loss.  Since he could discover nothing about the dish he set about inventing one.  Next day, inspiration came and he created a most delicate dish.

At dinner, the guests fell into ecstasies over the dish before them and, after complimenting the lady of the house, desired to know its name.  The Chef was called.  With perfect composure he replied, “Epigrammes of Lamb a la Michelet.

Everyone laughed.  The marquise was triumphant, though she could not understand the amusement of her guests.  From that moment, the culinary repertoire of France was enriched by a name still used to this day.”

Epigramme of Fillet of Trout, from Charles Elme Francatelli’s book entitled “Francatelli’s Modern Cook” (1886 edition):

“Trim the fillets as above (cut to resemble pear shaped fowl breasts), bread crumb one half, in the ordinary manner, and place these into a saute pan, with clarified butter; put the remainder into another saute pan, with clarified butter, without being bread crumbed, and season with pepper and salt.  Fry the fillets, drain and dish them up in a close circle, placing one of each kind alternately; fill the center with some scollops of fillet of soles, tossed in a spoonful of Bechamel sauce, and some chopped and par boiled parsley; pour some Aurora sauce over the plain fillets (taking care not to smear those that are bread crumbed), pour some of it round the base, and serve.”

Charles Elme Francatelli was a pupil of Careme and maitre d’hotel and chief cook to the Queen.

1893 Savoy Kitchen


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