One of the major changes to high society brought about by the Revolution was the modification of meal times. Theatre curtain times were pushed back and the knock-on effect was that the evening meal could no longer begin before 11pm, midnight and even two o’clock in the morning if attending a ball. Ancien Régime suppers were thus replaced by cold light snacks, a “hybrid meal” comprising turkey, steak, salads, wine, ice cream and, of course, punch.
An alcoholic cordial
Squeeze some lemons until you have three quarters of a pound of juice. This juice will be in no way clear, but will have milky appearance. Leave it to sit for four days in the cellar, after which it should be passed through “papier joseph” until it turns clear. Take care not to allow it to go mouldy, as it can quite easily do. To avoid this inconvenience, use lemons with unblemished skins, and discard any with a bitter juice. Take a pound and a half of good sugar. Break it into pieces the size of a thumb. Put it in a four to five pint matras. Over the top of the sugar pour your clarified lemon juice. Seal the matras' opening with paper, and place it in a bain marie over the fire. As soon as you see that the sugar has dissolved completely, let the fire burn out and cool the matras. Whilst still warm, flavour [the mixture] with two spoonfuls of lemon essence and empty into it a bottle of arack or rum. Shake the container in order to facilitate the mixing of cordial and spirit. Cover the container until it has completely cooled down, and pour the cordial into bottles.
– Matras – glass container- Papier joseph – silk paper used to filter liquids in chemistry- Arack (also known as rack) – a rough, sugar-based spirit, similar to rum but less refined. Known as tafia in the West Indies. Originally reserved for slaves.
Recipe taken from La cuisinière de la campagne et de la ville, Ou la nouvelle cuisine économique, Paris, Audot, 1818