Cooked for Charles Maurice de Talleyrand Perigord- French diplomat and prince of Talleyrand, czar Alexander I of Russia, and George the 4
Careme was born in Rue du Bac, Paris June 8, 1783 to a very poor family that had over 15 children. Marie-antiones father worked at the local river wharves. It was when Marie-Antoine 10 his father sent him out into Paris to fend for himself during the French Revolution. He was taken in be a tavern keeper who offered him food and lodging in exchange for work. And soon signed on for a 6 year apprenticeship, starting of as a pot washer & errand boy.
In 1798 he started another apprenticeship with Sylvain Bailly at the age of 17. It was here that Careme learned how to make pastries but more importantly Bailly encouraged Careme to read & write & allowed him to study in the department of Prints/Engravings. He soon deepened his drawings as well as his reading skills. He was then able to reproduce in sugar & pastry the famous architectural works that he had seen in the books. Bailly displayed these elaborate architectural pastry pieces in his shop window, which helped increase his business.
Careme stayed with Bailly for two years before he opened his own shop called the Patisserie de la rue de la Paix which he maintained until 1813. Careme is most famous for his centerpieces that would be displayed at the window of his shop. The structures would imitate ancient ruins or temples and even pyramids stacked several feet high. The centerpieces would be made out of food stuff such as sugar, marzipan and pastry, thus the famously known Croquembouche which he created.
He did freelance work creating pieces principally for the French diplomat and gourmand Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, but also other members of Parisian high society, including Napoleon. While working on his confections at many private kitchens, he quickly extended his culinary skills to main courses.
Napoleon was famously indifferent to food, but he understood the importance of social relations in the world of diplomacy. In 1804, he gave money to Talleyrand to purchase Château de Valençay, a large estate outside of Paris. The château was intended to act as a kind of diplomatic gathering place. When Talleyrand moved there, he took Carême with him.
The soups and fish dishes would be arranged on the table so that they would occupy symmetrical places at opposite ends of the table. The empty space in between the soup and fish dishes would be filled with little dishes of olives, pickles, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, etc. (they were called “side dishes” because they literally filled the sides of the table. he also created the chef’s hat, the “toque”
One of Carême’s great legacies was the hierarchy he developed for French sauces. Prior to his arrival on the scene there were literally hundreds of sauces in the French culinary canon, many of them absurdly elaborate, containing dozens of ingredients. At Talleyrand’s urging, Carême took on the project of organizing and simplifying them. The result was a system based on four “mother sauces” from which all others were derived. They were:
Allemande (light stock and lemon juice with egg yolks)