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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

 

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Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History

A traveling researcher engages people and places from Britain's past and present, drawing comparisons and contrasts between past and present for today's reader.

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Riviera Adventure Continues with Escoffier in Monaco

By Donna Fletcher Crow ~ September 22, 2021

Today my daughter-in-law and I are focusing on the chaperone duties which we had scurried through that brief Covid let-up to perform. Our charges, my granddaughter Jane and her roommate Chloe, have finished their week of intensive study at the Princess Grace school, and we are on the spot to pick them up.

 

This is a nostalgic journey back to my childhood, since I am of sufficient age to remember the fairy tale romance of American film star Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco. My mother was an avid Princess Grace admirer and I love it that her great granddaughter is carrying on this connection. 

Due to Monaco’s very strict Covid restrictions, we are not allowed past the foyer of the school.

So, Kelly and I make do with surveying the building from outside, which, like everything else in Monaco, is built on the side of a steep hill.

 

And here, I make my surprise discovery of the day, which brings me back to the food and literature fest this trip has become. Here, we were firmly on Kelly's culinary territory because Auguste Escoffier, the celebrated pioneering French chef and culinary writer who simplified and popularized fine French cooking, lived in the building next door to the school.

 

If my shaky French serves, I think this roughly translates:

Auguste Escoffier

Ambassador of French Cuisine

1846-1935

Lived in this house

He owned this property from 1889 until his death

 

Although best known for his culinary work in London and Paris, Escoffier had a lifelong connection to the south of France. He was born in 1846 in Villeneuve-Loubet in the mountains between Nice and Antibes, where today there is a culinary museum in his honor. Even though it is only a few miles from Nice, Kelly and I didn't make it to the museum. For a virtual visit I recommend Susannah Fullerton's wonderful talk on Escoffier.

The young Auguste began his early culinary training at the age of thirteen with an apprenticeship in his uncle’s restaurant in Nice; then he moved on to the Moulin Rouge in Paris.

In 1870 he was called up for military service where he became Chef de Cuisine for the army. He was stationed in various barracks throughout France—including five months back on his beloved Riviera in Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Escoffier spent seven years in the army, then opened his own restaurant, Le Faisan d'Or (The Golden Pheasant), in Cannes. Escoffier married Delphine Daffis in 1878. Six years later, the couple moved to Monte Carlo where Escoffier had control of the kitchens in the new Grand Hotel (now the Fairmont Monte Carlo). Eleven years later he bought the house pictured above.

Escoffier became known as “the king of chefs and the chef of kings.” He spent most of his working life in London at the Savoy and Carlton Hotels, and in Paris at the Ritz, but chose to retire back on his native Côte d’Azur. 

Escoffier revolutionized French cuisine by simplifying the ingredients, organizing the processes and the kitchens, and raising the position of chef to that of an artist. He also created many dishes which he named for famous clients, such as Peach Melba for the Austrian opera star Nelly Melba.

He further established his legacy in culinary history by writing several cookbooks which made his principles available to professional chefs and amateur cooks alike. The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery (1903) listed dishes according to their order of presentation and included the first á la carte menus. It is still in print today  as well as The Book of Menus (1912). His memoir Memories of My Life wasn't published until 1985. Escoffier also published the monthly magazine “Notebook of a Gourmet” from 1911 to 1914.

After our mental ramble through culinary history, our dancers joined us for an alfresco lunch by the harbor with chevre, hazelnut sausage and cherries fresh from that morning’s market.

That evening, back in Nice, we celebrated the exceptional French cuisine Escoffier had done so much to develop, on a balcony overlooking the entrance to the port of Nice.

The restaurant La Réserve de Nice was established in 1862 when Escoffier would have been an apprentice in his uncle’s restaurant. Although I have forgotten the names of the dishes we enjoyed, I will never forget the experience. Escoffier would have been pleased.

 

Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History, has written more than 50 books specializing in British Christianity. These books include: The Monastery Murders, clerical mysteries; Lord Danvers Investigates, Victorian true-crime; The Elizabeth and Richard series, literary suspense; and Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She loves research and sharing you-are-there experiences with her readers.

www.donnafletchercrow.com

Read More: Writers in France Then and Now

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Reader Comments:

Wow. I would love to have joined you for that chevre, hazelnut sausage and cherries - reminded me of visiting Paris with my husband. And those restaurant dishes. Wow! (And those dancers!)
-Sheila Deeth, September 23, 2021

Donna - Jane is SO beautiful and lovely, and she definitely IS a Crow - no question about that!!! I am thrilled with your activities and savored every single word you shared about this marvelous adventure! The photos are simply delightful! Thank you SO much for this blog!
-Carolyn Gilbert, September 23, 2021

Sheila, I wish we could get together and share memories of visiting France! Aren't the markets just delightful! The hazelnut sausage was amazing, and the cherries were huge, black, and sooo sweet!
-Donna, September 24, 2021

Oh, Carolyn, Jane *is* a delight--and best of all is the inner sweetness. We have been so delighted with this program in Basel because it seems to keep the young people young--absolutely no super-sophistication.
-Donna, September 24, 2021

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