Cena de jefe de Estado en honor al General Duchesne, en 1896

Les copio este simpático artículo que leí ayer en el The Times, de Londres, sobre como los tiempos cambian. De los suntuosos banquetes que servían en el pasado los presidentes se ha pasado a los «almuerzos de trabajo».

De 4 horas por cena se ha bajado a 40 minutos. Nuevos tiempos. Nueva manera de asumir la vida.

January 23, 2010
Fed-up hosts slim down state banquet menus
Who would be a head of state these days? There was a time when the job involved a whirl of banquets and enough gastronomic dishes and fine wines to cheer the most world-weary characters.
Now you are expected to rush through a meagre three-course meal in less than an hour before returning to work. Even in France — the land of haute cuisine — you will be lucky to have meat, a glass of wine and the chance to chat to Carla Bruni before President Sarkozy, her husband, signals the end of dinner. Fancy a digestive cognac? Forget it.
The decline in state banquets is highlighted in an exhibition organised by Maxim’s, the celebrated Parisian restaurant, which is displaying 140 French presidential menus.
The first dates from September 12, 1888, when President Carnot visited Le Havre. He was served 14 courses, including foie gras, sole, deer cutlets, beef filet, turkey stuffed with truffles, lobster and ice cream. The feast was washed down with sherry, four wines, champagne and liqueurs — and this was a relatively sober affair.
By 1913, when Raymond Poincaré was head of state, the 12-course menu featured six wines from the hallowed Bordeaux châteaux as well as three champagnes.
“They were expected to eat all the dishes and drink all the wines,” said Pierre-André Hélène, the curator of the exhibition A La Table des Présidents. “By the end of the meal, everyone was completely out of action.”
How different things were when President Christofias of Cyprus ate at the Elysée Palace in September last year. He was given lobster and melon salad, sole millefeuille with a vegetable flan and praline and pineapple teardrops with citronella.
There was so little alcohol that Mr Hélène has not bothered to display the wine list.“In the old days, the banquets lasted four hours,” Mr Hélène said. “Today, it’s all over in 40 minutes.”
Mr Sarkozy — who often lunches on cream cheese and raspberries — has reduced the presidential banquet to a minimum.
Mr Hélène said that Mr Sarkozy was in tune with the aspirations of a country turning its back on traditional eating habits. He said: “I don’t drink wine and I eat my foie gras with Coca-Cola. There are a lot of young French people like me. Who drinks digestives after their meals now, for instance?”
The distaste for brandy was marked by Jacques Chirac, Mr Sarkozy’s predecessor, who decided that state menus should end with coffee.
Mr Chirac did make an effort when the Queen paid a state visit in 2004. She was given cream of broccoli soup, foie gras, quail in champagne, cheese and chambord cake — a feast by modern standards although paltry in comparison with the 16 courses served to George V.
Royal feast
Menu of George V’s state visit to France, April 23, 1914
Niçoise consommé; Andalusian cream; Parisian brioches;
Parmesan soufflés; Bagration scampi; Renaissance York ham with truffles;
Regency calf sweetbread medallions; Turkish pilaf;
Sherry granita; Bigarade ducklings from Nantes;
Foie gras supreme in jelly salad; French peas, palm hearts;
Neluska ice cream; desserts

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