We are invited to the Elysée ... follow us and discover the wonderful and surprising " 150 years of presidential tables ". Thanks to this magnificent work retracing the knowledge of hospitality at the Elysée Palace, we appreciate the degree of refinement and elegance which France has achieved during receptions of foreign Heads of State.
The protocol is well established, each usher has a very precise role as soon as the guests arrive on the steps of the Palace, which they direct to the lounge for an aperitif, the seating plan being visible to everyone; then come the presentations of the guests to the Heads of State, the toast ceremony with speeches and champagne and finally ... the long awaited moment the meal which lasts only fifty-two minutes!
But to get there, the logistics must be perfect: menu selection, preparation of the room with plants and flowers, the tables where the tablecloths are ironed for several days, the installation of cutlery, crockery, silver candelabra. , all placed on the lines.
150 years of presidential tables
The design of invitation cards and menus has a long history: the very soberly designed menu supports appeared in 1870 during the official meals of the Third Republic. Each president has his menu and his support: the colors are used from 1905, reproductions of watercolors in 1938, Mr. Mitterrand prefers the works of great artists of the twentieth century, Mr. Chirac introduces novelties such as photos of Notre Dame, birds and flowers, but our favorite goes to the very stylish, black engravings on a cream background requested by Mr. Charles de Gaulle, in the 1960s, while Mr. Sarkozy prefers the white cardboard stamped with the coat of arms " RF ”with an oak branch and an olive branch, possibly golden. Let’s not forget the particular series, real works of art where paper is replaced by silk in Lyon.
The final menu was chosen by the President of the Republic, several weeks in advance, between three possibilities taking care of the requirements of the guest country, such as the illustrated cardboard of a zebu, sacred animal, for the reception of the President of Madagascar. It is then that the team of twenty five people will assist the Chef in preparing this menu: the food must be flawless, typically French with the essential Bresse poultry and Argenteuil asparagus ... the name of the dishes. must be envied, for example the salad "Jean Bart" or the sorbets "à la Rouget de l'Isle", the croustades "à la Talleyrand" ... delicate moment when it will often be necessary to send two hundred to two hundred and forty dishes to the same instant! Over the pages, we discover that Mr. Giscard d'Estaing opts for a light and healthy cuisine "but of high quality" and that Mr. Chirac introduces beer and sauerkraut in certain official meals.
The choice of wine is essential ... the most prestigious of course ... with particular attention to the guest as well as to this great patron of the industry for whom the wine served will be that of a Bordeaux château which he owns ...
A work to offer and to offer
"The 150 years of presidential tables" prefaced by Bernard Vaussion head of the Kitchens of the Presidency of the Republic, the introduction being written by Laurent Stéfanini head of the Protocol of the French Republic, shows all the esteem that we have for these personalities through elegant tables and refined menus. We discover an exceptional collection of presidential menus, some embellished with a representative anecdote such as "the exploit of Potel and Chabot" in 1900 on the anniversary of the First Republic.
Truly, "the 150 years of presidential tables" is a magnificent work to offer and to afford ...
Invitation to the Elysée: 150 years of presidential tables, by François Bertin, Jean-Maurice Sacré, Claude Weill. Editions Ouest-France, October 2011.