Any French citizen had the right to watch the King and Queen of France consume sumptuous dishes at the “grand couvert” at Versailles, but on the eve of the Revolution that feast had changed its significance from national display to national shame. During the 19th century French art and literature would invest images of food and dining with new social meaning in line with modern perceptions of smell and taste and the politics of the day. What you ate was more significant than where you were born.
SYLVIA SAGONA is an internationally recognised specialist on 19th century French society. She retired from the French Department at The University of Melbourne to work on historical documentaries for French and Australian television and is currently researching a book on the invention of the restaurant in Paris in the 18th century.