Louis Eustache Ude (born c. 1769) was a French chef and the author of two cookbooks.
His birthday was either the 15th or the 25th of August.  Alexis Soyer says, “…the great day of all was the 15th of August in each year—being the fête and birthday of the illustrious and far-famed Louis Eustache Ude.” (Soyer, Alexis. Soyer’s Culinary Campaign. London: G. Routledge & Co. 1857. Pp 277-279.) Food historian Ruth E. Cowen says, “While Ude was both notoriously rich and notoriously stingy, once a year, on 25 August, he would throw caution to the wind and celebrate his birthday…” (Cowen, Ruth E. Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef. London: Orion Publishing Group. 2006. Chapter 4, e-book.)
In “Lady Chesterfield’s Letters to Her Daughter”, the fictional Lady Constance Chesterfield writes of Ude:
“Then came M. Charles Louis Eustache Ude, a whimsical, good-natured, exorbitantly vain man, who — his head full of the kings, ambassadors, and plenipotentiaries, for whom he had cooked, and who petted him, and laughed at his droll sayings — imagined that he and his stewpans had had quite as much to do with the Treaty of Paris and the Congress of Vienna, as Castlereagh, Metternich, Talleyrand, or Pozzo di Borgo.” Sala, George Augustus. Lady Chesterfield’s Letters to Her Daughter. London: Houlston and Wright. 1860. Page 90.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Arrival in England
- 3 Work at Crockford’s Club
- 4 Final years
- 5 Books
- 6 Literature & Lore
- 7 Language notes
- 8 Sources
Eustache’s father had worked in the kitchens of Louis XVI Reigned 10 May 1774 – 21 September 1792, the last king of France before the French revolution, where he also got Eustache work as an apprentice.  On the title page of his book, “The French Cook”, Ude mentions that he was “Ci-devant cook to Louis XVI.” This appears to have been a bit of what is now-known as “resumé padding, as the young Ude was likely no more than a kitchen scullion in a staff of hundreds.
But the young man wasn’t interested in cooking at the time, and so left to work for a jeweller, then an engraver, then a printer, then worked as a travelling salesman for a silk company from Lyons, then as an “agent de change”, and then for a gambling house. Still, none of these jobs held his interest.
“Ude’s mamma was an attractive and lively milliner, who married an underling in Louis XVI’s kitchen. She thought Master Eustache too pretty a boy to be sacrificed to the ‘Dieu ventru.’ [Ed: big-bellied god.] The consequence was, that after an attempt made by his sire to train him in his own ‘glorious path’, the youngster absconded, and apprenticed himself, first to a ‘bijoutier en faux’, then to an engraver, next to a printer, and lastly to a haberdasher, after which he became traveller for a mercantile house at Lyons. Something occurred at this point which occasioned him to change his vocation once more. He returned to Paris, and there tried his genius as an actor at a small theatre in the Rue Chantereine. He soon, however, (aided by a discriminating public), discovered that his share of the world’s cake was not on that stage, and, by some means, he set up an office and a ‘cabriolet’, and forthwith started into life as an ‘agent de change’. This scheme did not last long; he got ‘cleaned out’ on ‘change’, and shortly after was installed as an inspector of gambling houses. He soon tired of this appointment, and, on relinquishing it, determined to return to his original calling, and became once again a cook.” Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 52, Vol. V. March 1898. Page 152.
Returning to his initial training in cooking, he landed work for Napoleon’s mother, Princess Maria-Letizia (aka Letitia) Ramolino Bonaparte (24 August 1750 — 2 February 1836 ) as “maître d’hôtel” for her for two years.
“After practising in the culinary profession some few years in the early dawn of the fortunes of the house of Bonaparte, Ude raised himself to the post of maître d’hôtel to Madame Letitia Bonaparte. Here our artist remained for about two years, when, owing to some difference of opinion between Madame Letitia and himself in matters arithmetical, he somewhat suddenly left that lady’s service to honour our land with his presence, and ever after, when fitting opportunity presented itself, he was wont to express his indignation against the ‘usurpateur’, and all his family.” Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.
He then left France for England, where he would spend the rest of his career.
Arrival in England
We do not know the exact date of Ude’s arrival in England. However, shortly after his arrival, he went to work for William Philip Molyneux, the 2nd Earl of Sefton (1772 to 1838) at Croxteth Hall, Liverpool, and stayed with the Earl for nearly 20 years. The Earl was a renowned epicure. He also liked hunting, gambling, coursing (greyhounds chasing after hares), and steeplechasing. Parts of his lands were organized to encourage hares and pheasants to proliferate.
During this time, Ude published the first edition his cookbook now known as “The French Cook”, in 1813.
The Earl paid him handsomely — 300 guineas a year. When the Earl died in 1838, he even left Ude 100 guineas a year in his will — even though Ude was no longer in his employ at the time.
“Good cooks were scarce in England in those days, and, shortly after his arrival, the late Earl of Sefton secured his services at a salary of 300 guineas per annum, and not only proved himself a liberal and kind-hearted patron during his lifetime, but, with that benevolence for which he was remarkable, handsomely provided for the old age of his favourite cook by leaving him £100 a year for life.” Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.
We do not know exactly when Ude left the Earl’s employ. One story has Ude leaving because, reputedly, the Earl’s eldest son (Charles William Molyneux, 3rd Earl of Sefton, 1796 to 1855), put salt in a soup that Eustache had made. Another version has it that the offender was a guest who added pepper: “He left Lord Sefton’s service because on one occasion a guest added more pepper to his soup.” Cooks of Modern Times entry. In: Brewer, E. Cobham. The Reader’s Handbook. J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia. 1899. Volume 1, page 232.
Work at Crockford’s Club
Ude went to work for the Duke of York (King George III’s second son, Prince Frederick Augustus, 16 August 1763 – 5 January 1827.) (Again, we do not have the exact start date for this.)
The Duke of York died in 1827. Historian Alison Adburgham notes,
“When the Duke of York died, Ude is said to have exclaimed, ‘Ah, mon pauvre Duc; how much will you miss me where you are gone!'” Adburgham, Alison. Silver Fork Society: Fashionable Life and Literature from 1814 to 1840. Faber and Faber. 2012. E-edition, Chapter 8.
Upon the Duke’s death, Ude was hired to be the first chef at Crockford’s, a private (and also illegal gambling) club opened in that same year at 50 St James Street by a William Crockford (1775 to May 1844). His starting salary was 1200 pounds a year. He served dinner at Crockford’s from 4:30 pm to 6 pm.
One year at Crockford’s, in the first week of August before the legal start of the grouse season on the 12th of August, Ude served grouse: members dining there that day happened to include the fifth Marquis of Queensberry, from Scotland, who was outraged that Ude was breaching the law, and reported Ude to the police. Ude appeared in Bow Street court the next morning after the offence, and was given a small fine and an admonition.
The entire account is found in the memoirs of Lord William Pitt Lennox, an English army officer, writer and co-member of Parliament for King’s Lynn, Norfolk (1831 – 1835) along with the Lord George Bentinck mentioned in the story below:
“Under Ude, as under Francatelli, Crockford’s Club was famous for its dinners. During those palmy days in St. James’s Street, when the culinary department was under the direction of the immortal Louis Eustache Ude, that truly popular nobleman the fifth Marquis of Queensberry dined in the coffee room early in August; and, among other delicacies, a young grouse was served. To a canny Scot, and a sportsman, such an open defiance of the game laws was intolerable; the bird was sent away, and the cordon bleu was compelled to make his appearance at the police court in Bow Street the next morning, to answer the charge of Lord Queensberry for having thus forestalled the 12th. A suitable admonition from the magistrate, and a small fine for this, the first (proved) offence, was the result. In the course of the day the noble lord again dined at the club, and, on thoroughly scrutinising the bill of fare, found that the illegal luxury had been erased from it. As he was about to sit down to dinner, the late Lord George Bentinck came in, and proposed joining tables. This was agreed to; and orders were given to the waiters to serve the two dinners together. The soup and fish were removed, and two entrees were placed on the board.
“I have ordered a supreme de volaille,” said the Marquis.
“And I,” responded George Bentinck, “am about to try a dish I never heard of before; but Ude recommended it strongly. I forget its name. Waiter, bring me the bill of fare.”
A very careful observer might have perceived that something untoward had occurred, from the anxiety of the attendant, himself a Frenchman, and his master, Le Grand Louis. While they kept nervously in the background, an English waiter took the covers off, and the olfactory senses of the Northern laird soon told him the nature of the dish.
“Why it’s a salmi of grouse,” he shouted, with an exclamation which, had he been in Bow Street, would have added five shillings to the cost of his dinner. “It is not down in the bill of fare. Let me see it.”
The fatal paper was handed to him by the terrified Ude, who now approached the table.
“Why, what is this?” asked the Marquis. “Salmi de fruit defendu.” [Ed: Salami of forbidden fruit.]
The culinary artist was silent, looked unutterable things [sic], and merely shrugged up his shoulders.
Either the ingenuity of the chef who had suggested this new gastronomic appellation, or the remembrance of his past services, produced a favourable effect upon the complainant, for a good-humoured smile played upon his countenance, as he remarked —
“Well, Ude, I presume this is a part of the bird of yesterday; but recollect, in future, no forbidden fruit must be plucked before the lawful day.” Lennox, Lord William Pitt. Drafts on my memory. London: Chapman and Hall. 1866. Vol. II. Page 13.
Ude once butted heads with a customer of the club who refused to pay extra for a side sauce Ude had made:
“Colonel Damer, happening to enter Crockford’s one evening to dine early, found Ude walking up and down in a towering passion, and naturally inquired what was the matter. ‘The matter, Monsieur le Colonel! Did you see that man who has just gone out? Well, he ordered red mullet for his dinner. I made him a delicious little sauce with my own hands. The price of the mullet marked on the carte was 2s.; I added 6d. for the sauce. He refuses to pay the 6d. That imbécile apparently believes that the red mullets come out of the sea with my sauce in their pockets!” Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 58, Vol. V. September 1899. Page 353.
At one point, his former employer Lord Sefton was part of a group of people presenting Ude with a gift for his service to the club:
“A cabal was once formed against Ude at the club. “What have you to complain of?” inquired Ude of Lord A. “I hardly know,” replied the classical peer; “but I am tired of one style of cookery, though it is the best.” “Had not your lordship better dine at home?” retorted the arch cook. Soon after this, an expression of thanks was voted to Ude by the committee, and an elegant piece of plate offered to him. It was presented to the chef by Lord Sefton. A tear stood in Ude’s eye as he received the offering from the hand of his old master. “Ah, Ude!” exclaimed his lordship, “it is my proudest boast that I was the first to discover your now universally acknowledged merit.” “Your taste, my dear lord,” modestly answered his ci-devant cook, “is alone capable of fully appreciating my merit. I am happy to have met with one man who could understand me.” French cook, twelfth edition review. In: — The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc. No 835. Saturday, 19 January 1833. Page 35, col. 3.
Ude stayed at Crockford’s for 12 years, until 1839, when he quit at the start of February over a salary dispute. He was succeeded there as chef by Charles Elmé Francatelli. ”On Ude’s retirement from the active duties of his high vocation at Crockford’s, his mantle fell on Charles Elmé Francatelli – an author of merit, and a man of cultivation and accomplishments, as well as an eminently distinguished artist.” — Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.
Crockford himself retired from the club the next year, in 1840. A casino named after the club continues today (2020) in London, located near and based on references to the previous Crockford’s club. Russians new club venture that may have tunnel vision. London Evening Standard. 25 November 2011.
Eustache found work at the United Service Club-House on Albemarle Street. In 1841, in the 14th edition of “The French Cook”, he describes himself as now being “Projector of the original coffee-room held in the United Service Club-House in Albemarle Street.” Sometime before this, he had re-titled the book as “The French Cook: a system of fashionable, practical, and economical Cookery, adapted to the use of English families.” In the prefaces to his book (at least this 14th edition in 1841), he says he had worked for Charles X of France (reigned from 1824 – 30), but during the time he cited, he was actually working for the Duke of York and Crockford’s.
In his book, he gives his advice for proper sandwich making — no doubt from experience of feeding men who didn’t want to be interrupted at their gambling long enough to formally dine. His recipe for Turtle Soup was considered so good that Mrs Beeton stole it.
Ude became a wealthy man; his book The French Cook went through at least twelve editions.
He had several pet dogs and treated them like children. Ude did marry but we are uncertain of his wife’s name. Apparently their quarrels were legendary:
“Ude lived in considerable splendour in a house in Albemarle Street, midway between Bond Street and Berkeley Square, which was packed with valuable art, lavish plate, rare china, and objects de vertu. He shared the house with his wife, with home he quarrelled loudly and continually, and a menagerie of pet dogs, cats and parrots. The noise they made was legendary. Ude also, in a strange reversal of social norms, let out the top floors to William Arden, the second Lord Alvanley….” Cowen, Ruth E. Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef. London: Orion Publishing Group. 2006. Chapter 4, e-book.
Once a year, he would throw a large dinner party to celebrate his birthday:
“While Ude was both notoriously rich and notoriously stingy, once a year, on 25 August, he would throw caution to the wind and celebrate his birthday by hosting a spectacular dinner party for around two dozen friends and disciples….. Ude always expected his guests to be highly honoured by their inclusion at this select epicurean experience, which was served at precisely 5:30 p.m., and to which latecomers were barred. Tradition also dictated that expensive birthday presents were to be delivered several days prior to the event…..
[In 1841], however, the dinner turned into a fiasco. The soup — a superb bisque d’écrevisses — had scarcely been finished, and the Madeira was still on its first round of the table, when a hapless guest trod on the paw of Vermilion, Madame Ude’s favourite pooch, which precipitated not just a quarrel between the host and hostess, but a fight among the dogs, and in turn some vicious bites. Then a pile of valuable plates — bought at auction from the Duke of York’s estate — were cracked when the guest carving the joint placed them on a spirit-warmer when stone cold. Finally, a second dog choked on a piece of venison which another guest had secretly thrown under the table to him, and despite Madame Ude’s attentions, it later died.” Ibid.
(See Literature and Lore section below for a blow-by-blow account of the above dinner party.)
Ude died on 10 April 1846, aged 77. He was still living in his Albemarle Street, London home at the time. He was buried at Kensal Green Cemetery, London, where the chef Alexis Soyer is also buried. Kensal Green Cemetary. Famous residents. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.kensalgreencemetery.com/famous-residents/ His wive survived him.
- Science de Gueule
- The French Cook. London: Cox & Baylis. 1813. (free on Google Play, link valid as of August 2020.)
Literature & Lore
Ude’s disastrous birthday party
This first-hand account of the disastrous August 1841 birthday dinner party that Ude threw for himself comes to us from the chef Alexis Soyer, who was there with his own wife:
“You must know that the old gentleman, though very avaricious, now and then came out in first-rate style with his gastronomic parties; but the great day of all was the 15th of August in each year — being the fête and birthday of the illustrious and far-famed Louis Eustache Ude. Upon these occasions, about four-and-twenty of his most devoted and illustrious disciples were invited, with their wives, to a most sumptuous dinner at his house. The grandeur of the gold and silver ornaments was actually cast into the shade by the elegance and succulence of the mets they contained. The choicest articles in season — viz., fish, ﬂesh, poultry, vegetables, and fruit — seemed to have been waiting to come to perfection for this high-priest of the gastronomic art, and many culinary inventions which still delight the scientiﬁc palates of the epicures of the day had their origin at that Lucullusian anniversary.
“Upon one of these great occasions, Madame Soyer and myself were invited. As it was the ﬁrst to which I had been invited, I was very anxious to go. About a week previous, so strong was my wish to be present at this feast, I asked the committee to grant me leave of absence from duty for one evening, and they kindly acceded to my request. To the minute, heure militaire, we were there, and were saluted upon our arrival by the usual dogmatic chorus [ed: an allusion to all the dogs barking], which for a few minutes prevented our hearing a word that was spoken. At length we were all seated, Mr. Ude at the top of the table, and Mrs. Ude facing him.
“It was, I must repeat,a most superb and elegantly laid out board. The best part of the dessert, which is always refreshing to the sight, ‘particularly in the middle of August,’ had been made a perfect study. Soup was duly served, and highly praised by the culinary convives and judges. It was a bisque d’écrevisses. The Madeira was circulating cheerfully round the table, to the trinquing of glasses, after the old French fashion, when an unfortunate guest, having probably too far to reach a beloved friend, put his foot forward, and unfortunately deposited it upon the paw of one of the enfants chéris de la maison.
Vermilion — that was the name of the plaintiff — being an enfant gâté, seized upon the leg, which happened to be bootless, as the unlucky guest wore thin shoes. The dog made a slight indenture with his teeth, causing him involuntarily to reply to the attack of Vermilion; three or four more of the four-legged tribe joined the battle-cry, and the noise was intolerable. The compliments which passed between the host and hostess were pithy and violent, though scarcely heard through the din, excepting by those who happened to be seated close to them. We were fortunately about the centre of the table, and all we could catch was—
“‘Oh, you stupid old man! Why did you not lock the dogs upstairs, as I told you to do?’
“‘Be quiet, madam!’ replied Mr. Ude. ‘This is my birthday, and I will have no quarrelling.’
“‘No more will I; but why did you not lock up your dogs?’.
“‘Well, madam, I am sure they were quiet enough till that stupid young man trod upon poor Vermilion’s paw.’
“‘Stupid young man, did you say? Mr. Ude, pray how dare you insult my relation? If any one is stupid here, it is you, Mr. Ude!’
“‘Will you be quiet, madam?’—‘ No, I shall not!’
“‘What, not on my birthday! There, take that.’ “As he said this, he threw some almonds across the table, and his wife replied with some projectiles snatched up at random from other portions of the dessert. The dogs joined in the fray, and entirely upset the party. All the ladies left the table. The young man who had been bitten attempted to apologize; in return for which concession on his part, the great Louis Eustache and his amiable spouse returned a volley of abuse. An hour elapsed before anything like order could be established, when several ladies returned to the table, while a few remained to console the victimized spouse. The great Mr. Ude had bravely retained his important position, and, still violently excited, commenced helping the ﬁsh — a magniﬁcent crimped Gloucester salmon, procured at Groves’s in Bond-street — which was by this time as cold as ice.
“‘Only fancy,’ ejaculated the enraged Amphitryon, ‘even on my birthday! Upon my word, she is a wretch ! She never will—’ Then, by way of parenthesis, to the waiter, ‘Go round with the sauce, you stupid! don’t stand there staring like a fool.’——‘ Prosper! no, I’m sure she never, never will prosper!’
“At length something like harmony was restored; but only six ladies out of eleven returned; the others remained with Mrs. Ude, and, I believe, dined upstairs. Much to our sorrow and disappointment, one of the ﬁnest dinners of the season was served up cold, and entirely spoiled, through the pugnacity of Louis Eustache Ude’s favourite pup.”
All laughed heartily at the anecdote, particularly Lord Raglan, who then told us that Ude had called upon him several mornings respecting a cook he had applied for to Mr. Ude, for his brother, the Duke.
“Ude,” said Lord Raglan, “called several mornings, ﬁrst with two dogs, then three, next four. At last I said to him, ‘I am very much obliged to you, Mr. Ude, for your kind visits respecting my brother’s cook, and shall be happy to see you at any time — but in future without your four-legged companions.’
“‘Why?’ asked the great chef rather put out.
“‘My dear sir, if you want an explanation, inquire of the housemaid!’ He rushed out, and never called again; but he sent the cook all the same. Ude was an excellent manager, and a good cook, but had a very odd temper; he died very rich.”
“Very rich indeed.”
“To whom did he leave his fortune?”
“ Oh, to his favourite pet, Madame Ude. She is still alive, and lives in the same house in Albemarle-street.” — Soyer, Alexis. Soyer’s Culinary Campaign. London: G. Routledge & Co. 1857. Pp 277-279.
“The fanciest gambling den in London in the first half of the century was Crockford’s in St James’s Street, founded in 1826 by a retired fishmonger. Crockford ensured that his club, apart from being a place where the rich could lose their shirts in decent privacy, in all other aspects resembled the best gentlemen’s club: it was exclusive and had a good chef. Indeed, it even laid on special late supper hours during the parliamentary season, when an exhausted legislator could stagger up the road from the Houses of Parliament and be refreshed at any hour from midnight to five in the morning.” — Flanders, Judith. The Victorian City. London: Atlantic Books. 2012. Page 349.
“There has been a row at Crockfords and Ude dismissed. He told the Committee he was worth 4000 pounds a year. Their new man is quite a failure, so I think the great artist may yet return from Elba. He told Wombwell, that in spite of his 4000 a year he was miserable in retirement; that he sate all day with his hands before him doing nothing. Wombwell suggested, the exercise of his art for the gratification of his own appetite. “Pah”, he said. “I have not been into my kitchen once: I hate the sight of my kitchen. I dine on roast mutton dressed by a cookmaid”. He shed tears, and said that he had only been twice in St James Street since his retirement, which was in September and that he made it a rule never to walk on the same side as the Clubhouse. “Ah I love that Club, tho’ they are ingrats. Do not be offended Mr W. if I do not take my hat off to you when we meet, but I have made a vow that I will never take my hat off to a member of the Committee.” — Benjamin Disraeli to Sarah Disraeli, Monday, 4 February 1839. [Ed. Disraeli’s “new man” was Francatelli. Francatelli in fact would go on to be as celebrated as Ude was.]
Quotes from Ude
“Many people rail against attributing much importance to the pleasures of the table; but it is not observable that these moralists are more averse than others to gratification of the palate when opportunity occurs.” — Ude. The French Cook”, 1813.
“It is very remarkable, that in France, where there is but one religion, the sauces are infinitely varied, whilst in England, where the different sects are innumerable, there is, we may say, but one single sauce. Melted butter, in English cooking, plays nearly the same part as the Lord Mayor’s coach at civic ceremonies, calomel in modern medicine, or silver forks in fashionable novels. Melted butter with anchovies, melted butter and capers, melted butter and parsley, melted butter and eggs, melted butter for ever: this is a sample of the national cookery of this country.” — Ude. The French Cook, 1813
Ude in the literary press
Ude-attributed poem dedicated to Henriette Sontag
In 1828, a wag in the literary press attributed this poem to Ude, purportedly dedicated to the opera singer Henriette Sontag. This shows Ude’s presence in the minds of London’s chattering classes.
ORIGINAL POETRY. LOUIS EUSTACHE UDE TO MDLLE. SONTAG.
SINCE you, Mademoiselle, were not at home
When last I called on you,
I now present my card and com-
Pliments, with, How d’ye do?
You’ve given the town a pretty shock–
The world is in your suite—
I hear of none but you at Crock-
Ford’s in St. James’s Street.
The hearers, as your music floats, To me their wishes tell ;
And as they catch your melting notes,
I hear them say, “Qu’en elle !” [a]
Yet when myself my hand would try,
And musical would be,
I hardly think your “do, re, mi”
Equal to my do-ry.
Some sympathy between us see—
We both have made entrées;
And if your voice can reach pure E, [b]
I’ll match you at purées. [c]
Though you have got the gift of tune,
Yet something still is mine;
Think not my soup au clair de lune
Is nothing but moonshine !
No jealousy my bosom warps
Of what to you is due ;
For though I make a farce of carps, [d]
I’ll never carp at you.”
[a] We don’t wonder at anybody wishing for one of M. Ude’s quenelles, whether of chickens or of whitling. But the time for expressing such a desire, when listening to Sontag, seems mal à-propos. We suspect a false reading for “Qu’un Hell!” uttered by some countryman of the author’s in the crush of the pit, whose English and whose bones are alike broken.
[b] Certain gnostics, whose ears are the most remarkable features of their heads, pretend to lay down the exact lines of demarcation, beyond which Sontag’s voice cannot extend. E above the lines, according to these judges, is its highest compass.
[c] See the French Cook, passim, for these amiable preparations of vegetables.
[d] See the same work, p. 119, ninth edition.
— The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc. No 589. Saturday, 3 May 1828. Page 285.
Ude-attributed poem dedicated to Lord Sefton
In 1828, another (or the same) wag attributed this poem to Ude, purportedly dedicated to Ude’s first English patron, Lord Sefton. The dishes mentioned are found in Ude’s book, ‘The French Cook’. Like much poetry of the era, it is of course sprinkled with footnotes to make sure the reader appreciated the erudite allusions and witticisms.
ORIGINAL POETRY. A VISION OF A DINNER, A LA BARMECIDE.” [a]
By Louis Eustache Ude, Author of the “French Cook.”
— Addressed to Lord Sefton.
“Having been long of opinion that our English verse might be constructed in imitation of the ancient hexameter, which would be perfectly consistent with the character of our language, and capable of great richness, variety, and strength, I have now made the experiment.” — Dr. Southey.
HARK [b] ’tis the silver sound of the spoon immersed in the tureen;
Near you is à la Bauveau, and that is the Brunoise adjoining;
Here is the soupe à la Reine—rich, regal, relishing, racy—
The beautiful broth, which is the fine quintessence of poulet,
Blended gently with cream, and other ineffable compounds;
A glass of the Chablis boy—that is ever my wine after potage.
Behold! as relief to the soup, the napkin’d and delicate turbot,
(The curdily, cream-flaked fish, whose fin is alone worth an empire),
Garnished with silver smelt, nor wanting his roseate honours. [c]
Here are slices of salmon, crimp’d (’tis from Thames [d]), and with sauce Génévoise served.
Hock is the orthodox wine. Ever after your fish, I entreat you,
Drink from the Rhenish flask Rudesheim, Markobrunner, or Hockheim;
Leibfraumilch, if you will, a pleasanter tipple there none is,
Neirstein, or Geissenheim; but avoid like a pestilence Winckel: [e]
The Möselle wines I approve, and the best of them all is Pisporter, [f]
Spite of its name, which to ears polite hath a sound cacophonic.
Pardon this prosing on wine, and let us return to the banquet:
See, the Removes are at hand; to which of the
two shall I help you?
Turkey à la perigeux, do you choose, with a puré of chestnut,
Or fowls à la Condé, enriched with a ravishing ragoût a l’Allemande,
Dishes divine of their kinds? — and now for a glass of Madeira.
Remove the removes, if you please, and give us a moment’s cessation.
Now for the triumph! behold, the savour of savours approacheth—
This is the gourmand’s goût, this, this is the sauté Lucullus,
Which but to name is to waken a sense of gustatory rapture,
Higher, intenser, than fires the zealot for Mahomet’s Eden;
In this transcendent dish the ham insensibly mingles
Its exquisite flavour with game, which again combines with the truffle,
The truffle with spices unknown, but of richer odour than cassia,
Or myrrh, or perfumes of the East, or what ever the poets may rave of:
Let us dwell for a while on this, surnamed the “test of piquancy.” [g]
See, from the misty cup foams high the loveliest of liquors,
Champagne, chill, cold as ice:—another glass and another.
Now the attack renew, here are cutlets of pork a la mirepoix,
Timbales, with salpiçon croquettes of fowl au velouté
(Not the Velluti we know, but a chose bien plus sensible):
Perdreaux à Barbarie (by no means bar barous), fillets
Of fowl a la Pompadour, and two small chickens poélé
Champagne—’tis a maxim true, that good eating requires good drinking.
Now, shall I send you a wing of the hare or a slice of the capon,
Salsifis, snipe, noyeau jelly, bouchées petites, macaroni?
(Par parenthèse, of liqueur a glass, curaçoa,– maraschino,
Medical men recommend, and for once I concede to the doctor)
Choux à chantilli, choose you? ramequin, or some soufflée à l’orange:
And now one small tasse d’eau de vie, and with cheese we’ll conclude our refreshment.
Hereafter I’ll speak of the wines; but meantime treasure the axiom,-
As you value yourself as a man of taste and good breeding,
Shun like the Styx the fire of port, and insufferable sherry
Eschew as you would a dram, and stick to the
CLARET, I, UDE, PRONOUNCE ALONE THE WINE AFTER DINNER.
Crockford’s, St. James Street
[a] We presume we are indebted for this curious gastronomical epistle to the notice of Ude’s superb cookery in our last, when commenting on the mistake of an R.A. — Ed.
[b] We have carved off the introduction, and plunged Eustache at once in medias res, like a true epic poet. Besides, his proëm was a profane parody on Mr. Southey’s sublime opening of the Vision of Judgment. — Ed.
[c] Lobster-sauce, we suppose. — Ed.
[d] Salmon from the Thames is the most esteemed, and sells accordingly — crimped salmon fetches the highest price, and is the only one introduced at the table of the true connoisseur. — My Cookery Book, p. 316, 9th edition. L.E. Ude.
[e] I was half killed with cholera after drinking this detestable stuff at Wisbaden. All the others are good. The best for steady drinking is Markobrunner; for strength and flavour, Rudesheim. — L.E. Ude.
[f] Some wag wrote Barclay, Perkins and Co. on the ‘wein preis’ at an auberge at Coblentz.
[g] I have expressly designated it in my French Cook, the ‘ne plus ultra of the art.’ — L.E. Ude.
— The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc. No 616. Saturday, 8 November 1828. Page 714.
Ude and clever writers
Knowledge of Ude’s purported prowess with cuisine was apparently so taken for granted amongst the right crowds that even critics of poetry could work in mentions of it while reviewing a poem:
“We will cite a few stanzas [of Mr Shee’s ‘Wedding Day Anniversary’]:
At dinner we grow nice, and think
Much more of what we eat and drink
Than we were wont, when able
To feast on every kind of food
Which that great artist, Eustache Ude,
Could put upon the table.”
Of Eustache Ude we cannot hear mention made in this matter, without animadverting [sic] on the sole-cism (no pun) committed by the writer. It is a complete blunder throughout. We will tell Mr. Shee, ‘great artist’ as he really is, that he has not done justice to his greater contemporary artist on this occasion. We suspect he made the verse after some plain English dinner, when consequently (as in the ensuing verse is confessed) ‘rather dozy’. Why! the more nice the happy connubial pair grew with regard to meals, we will venture to say the more would they be able to feast on every kind of food, if put on the table by this Prince of Cooks. In short, we are quite angry with Mr. Shee: he has made a bull, and put the cart before the horse. It is not when folks can eat any thing except a jackass stuffed with horse-nails, that they care so much for Ude’s superbly commingled flavours – it is when they think, ‘Now, what could I take?’ – when appetite is languid, or rather when there is no appetite; when it seems as if the merry thought of a lark would oppress the stomach with waggon-loads of insupportable cannibalism; — it is then that Ude approaches in the effulgence of his gory, and you dwell on dindons aux truffes, and fricassée au suprême, and salmi des perdreaux, and the unrivalled Sauté au Lucullus, [Vide Ude’s Cookery. Ninth Edition, passim.] as if you were the heirs of exercise and the competitors of the court of aldermen. But this is an interl-Ude, as the players call it, and it is time to ‘Ex. Ude.'” — The London Literary Gazette and Journal of Belles Lettres, Arts, Sciences, etc. No 615. Saturday, 1 November 1828. Page 695.
Ude and Byron
E. H. Coleridge may have been the first person, in print at least, to notice that Lord Byron seemed to have a copy of Ude’s book. In stanzas 62 to 74 of “Don Juan Canto Fifteenth”, there are innumerable references to recipes which appear in that book. Most of the recipe names which Byron drew on, however, appeared prominently on the illustrated plates at the front of the book, showing that he may have got no further into it than he needed to. Peattie, Anthony. The Private Life of Lord Byron. London: Unbound Publishing. 2019. Appendix 4.
“There was a goodly “Soupe à la bonne femme” —
Though God knows whence it came from -– there was, too,
A Turbot for relief -– of those who cram;
Relieved with a dindon à la Périgueux;
There also was – the Sinner that I am!
How shall I get this Gourmand stanza through?
Soupe à la Beauveau, whose Relief was Dorey –
Relieved itself by Pork, for greater Glory.” (Stanza 63).
Here are the two recipes he’s alluding to, both of which appear on illustrated plate number 2 at the start of the book:
- Soupe à la Bonne Femme, relevée avec le Turbot, relevé avec le Dindon à la Périgueux.
- Soupe à la Beauveau, relevée avec le Dorey, relevé avec le porc.
Ude is often credited for the first mention of soufflé in an English-language cookbook, even by the Oxford English Dictionary (his recipe for “soufflé of young partridges” in his “French Cook”, 1813), but that is incorrect. CooksInfo is aware of an earlier 1809 usage by Frederic Nut in “The Imperial and Royal Cook” (London: Mathews and Leigh. 1809).
Lord William Pitt Lennox. Drafts on my memory: Men I have known, things I have seen, places I have visited. London: Chapman and Hall. Vol II. 1886. (Chapter IX).
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Alexis Soyer says, “…the great day of all was the 15th of August in each year—being the fête and birthday of the illustrious and far-famed Louis Eustache Ude.” (Soyer, Alexis. Soyer’s Culinary Campaign. London: G. Routledge & Co. 1857. Pp 277-279.) Food historian Ruth E. Cowen says, “While Ude was both notoriously rich and notoriously stingy, once a year, on 25 August, he would throw caution to the wind and celebrate his birthday…” (Cowen, Ruth E. Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef. London: Orion Publishing Group. 2006. Chapter 4, e-book.)|
|2.||↑||Sala, George Augustus. Lady Chesterfield’s Letters to Her Daughter. London: Houlston and Wright. 1860. Page 90.|
|3.||↑||Reigned 10 May 1774 – 21 September 1792, the last king of France before the French revolution|
|4.||↑||On the title page of his book, “The French Cook”, Ude mentions that he was “Ci-devant cook to Louis XVI.” This appears to have been a bit of what is now-known as “resumé padding, as the young Ude was likely no more than a kitchen scullion in a staff of hundreds.|
|5.||↑||Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 52, Vol. V. March 1898. Page 152.|
|6.||↑||Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.|
|7.||↑||Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.|
|8.||↑||Cooks of Modern Times entry. In: Brewer, E. Cobham. The Reader’s Handbook. J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia. 1899. Volume 1, page 232.|
|9.||↑||Adburgham, Alison. Silver Fork Society: Fashionable Life and Literature from 1814 to 1840. Faber and Faber. 2012. E-edition, Chapter 8.|
|10.||↑||Lennox, Lord William Pitt. Drafts on my memory. London: Chapman and Hall. 1866. Vol. II. Page 13.|
|11.||↑||Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 58, Vol. V. September 1899. Page 353.|
|12.||↑||”On Ude’s retirement from the active duties of his high vocation at Crockford’s, his mantle fell on Charles Elmé Francatelli – an author of merit, and a man of cultivation and accomplishments, as well as an eminently distinguished artist.” — Hayward, Abraham. The Art of Dining; or, Gastronomy and Gastronomers. In: The Epicure. Issue 53, Vol. V. April 1898. Page 184.|
|13.||↑||Russians new club venture that may have tunnel vision. London Evening Standard. 25 November 2011.|
|14.||↑||Cowen, Ruth E. Relish: The Extraordinary Life of Alexis Soyer, Victorian Celebrity Chef. London: Orion Publishing Group. 2006. Chapter 4, e-book.|
|16.||↑||Kensal Green Cemetary. Famous residents. Accessed August 2020 at https://www.kensalgreencemetery.com/famous-residents/|
|17.||↑||Peattie, Anthony. The Private Life of Lord Byron. London: Unbound Publishing. 2019. Appendix 4.|