25 July 2013


Have been referring students tonight to change of diet during the siege of Paris (less grim than that of Leningrad or parts of China under Mao) ...

Gautier noted -
Soon the animals observed that man was regarding them in a strange manner and that, under the pretext of caressing them, his hand was feeling them like the fingers of a butcher, to ascertain the state of their embonpoint. More intellectual and suspicious than dogs, the cats were the first to understand and adopted the greatest prudence in their relations.
The very wealthy (and very unpleasant) gourmand, journalist and MP Henry Labouchere reported in Diary of the Besieged Resident in Paris that -
The servant who was in charge told me that up there they had been unable to obtain bread for three days, and that the last time that he had presented his ration ticket he had been given about half an inch of cheese. "How do you live, then?" I asked. After looking mysteriously round to see that no one was watching us, he took me down into the cellar, and pointed to some meat in barrel. "It is half a horse," he said, in the tone of a man who is showing some one the corpse of his murdered victim. "A neighbouring coachman killed him, and we salted him down and divided it." Then he opened a closet in which sat a huge cat. "I am fattening her up for Christmas-day, we mean to serve her up surrounded with mice, like sausages," he observed.
Each person now receives 100 grammes of meat per diem, the system of distribution being that every one has to wait on an average two hours before he receives his meat at the door of a butcher's shop. I dine habitually at a bouillon; there horse-flesh is eaten in the place of beef, and cat is called rabbit. Both, however, are excellent, and the former is a little sweeter than beef, but in other respects much like it; the latter something between rabbit and squirrel, with a flavour all its own. It is delicious. I recommend those who have cats with philoprogenitive proclivities, instead of drowning the kittens, to eat them. Either smothered in onions or in a ragout they are excellent. When I return to London I shall frequently treat myself to one of these domestic animals, and ever feel grateful to Bismarck for having taught me that cat served up for dinner is the right animal in the right place.
The following is a list of the prices of "luxuries:"—Terrines of chicken, 16f; of rabbit, 13f; a fowl, 26f; a rabbit, 18f; a turkey, 60f; a goose, 45f; one cauliflower, 3f; one cabbage, 4f; dog is 2f. a lb.; a cat skinned costs 5f.; a rat, 1f., if fat from the drains, 1f. 50c. Almost all the animals in the Jardin d'Acclimatation have been eaten. They have averaged about 7f. a lb. Kangaroo, however, has been sold for 12f. the lb. Yesterday I dined with the correspondent of a London paper. He had managed to get a large piece of mufflon, an animal which is, I believe, only found in Corsica. I can only describe it by saying that it tasted of mufflon, and nothing else. Without being absolutely bad, I do not think that I shall take up my residence in Corsica, in order habitually to feed upon it.
rench people, more particularly the poorer classes, can exist upon much less than Englishmen; but the prospect for any one blessed with a good appetite is by no means reassuring. In the Rue Blanche there is a butcher who sells dogs, cats, and rats. He has many customers, but it is amusing to see them sneak into the shop after carefully looking round to make sure that none of their acquaintances are near. A prejudice has arisen against rats, because the doctors say that their flesh is full of trichinæ. I own for my part I have a guilty feeling when I eat dog, the friend of man. I had a slice of a spaniel the other day, it was by no means bad, something like lamb, but I felt like a cannibal. Epicures in dog flesh tell me that poodle is by far the best, and recommend me to avoid bull dog, which is coarse and tasteless. I really think that dogs have some means of communicating with each other, and have discovered that their old friends want to devour them. The humblest of street curs growls when anyone looks at him. Figaro has a story that a man was followed for a mile by a party of dogs barking fiercely at his heels. He could not understand to what their attentions were due, until he remembered that he had eaten a rat for his breakfast. The friend of another journalist, who ate a dog called Fox, says that whenever anyone calls out "Fox" he feels an irresistible impulse which forces him to jump up. As every Christmas a number of books are published containing stories about dogs as remarkable as they are stale, I recommend to their authors these two veracious tales. Their veracity is guaranteed by Parisian journalists. Can better evidence be required?