I am a wee bit past Bastille Day, but in the spirit of that revolutionary and rather bloody event, I would like to offer a meal fit for Death. The Old Foodie, is a brilliant blog devoted to providing readers with 400 words a day on a historical food topic, along with recipes. This offering was a splendid piece on the infamous "mortuary dinner" given by eccentric French gourmand Grimod de la Reynière in 1783. Here's the first paragraph of the article:
"The eighteenth century French gourmand Grimod de la Reynière hosted a most unusual dinner party in 1783 which has gone down in history as 'the Mortuary Dinner’. Grimod was known to be eccentric, but even for him, this dinner was a little over-the-top. The invitation to a 'collation-supper' was in the form of an obituary notice, and guest were advised 'The arrival is fixed for 9 o'clock and supper will take place at 10 o'clock. You are requested not to bring neither dog nor lackey as there will be enough servants. Neither pig nor oil will be missing from the supper. You are requested to bring this invitation, without which admittance will be refused.' ”
The whole event is terrifically weird and worthy of a Tim Burton cinematic moment (who could forget the shrimp cocktail in Beetle Juice?) -- plenty of black crepe on the walls, coffins to lounge in, and a silent audience in the balcony to observe the spectacle. The Old Foodie also provides a tasty recipe for Ragout of Pork Chops -- just in case you, like me, have no idea what "plenty of pig and oil" might actually mean. You can read the whole piece here.
And better yet, here is a wonderful video of a "Black Meal" from the British show "Supersize Eaters" that examines the eating habits of different historical periods and then spend a week living, cooking, and eating in a version of that period. The results are very funny, and very fascinating. In this video -- a celebration of Grimod's "Mortuary Dinner" -- you get a clear, first hand look at this peculiar feast.
And while the article is from 2009, this piece "Liberty, Equality, Gastronomy, Paris via the 19th Century Guide" is a hoot to read.