Bookclubbin': Maxim's: Mirror of Parisian Life
Aug 29, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
Think of Maxims as the Studio 54 of the 1890s. But instead of Halston, Liza and coke, theres Charles Frederick Worth, famously infamous courtesan Liane de Pougy and opium. That magically hedonistic time known as the Belle Epoque in France saw the establishment of a pillar of Parisian society, Maxims. More than a restaurant, it was the social meeting ground for generations of artists, nobles, diplomats, stars and folks of less reputable distinction. It has survived two world wars, multiple owners and Mick Jagger showing up in sneakers and 120 years later its still the place to see and be seen. Assouline s Maxims: Mirror of Parisian Life by Jean-Pascal Hesse examines the people, the historical and cultural events and of course the food that distinguish the rich history of the restaurant at 3 rue Royal.
Maxims & Georges opened on April 23, 1893 and almost immediately...it started to tank. Former waiter Maxime Gaillard enlisted the help of Eugène Evereau to open the little restaurant, but returns were minimal. That is until fortune stumbled through the door, clad in a fur and probably holding a cocktail in the middle of the afternoon. The Brangelina of their day, Irma de Montigny and her lover Arnold de Contades dropped in unceremoniously on May 21st and finding the place charming and the food pleasing, Irma declared: Im going to launch your bouchon! And Maxims the Georges was dropped shortly after Evereau jumped shipwas born. Over the years, Maxims has served the latest and greatest, from Maria Callas and Rudolf Nureyev to Liz Taylor and Dick Burton to Diana Ross and Andy Warhol. Today, the restaurant still stands at 3 rue Royal, in addition to some 25 other locations worldwide thanks to its license-happy owner, Pierre Cardin.
Maxim's menu, c. 1928
What owning this book says about you: Screw that Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee trash, my cookbook has 100 year old French recipes. Maxims, in addition to recounting the prolific history of the restaurant, includes some of its most famous recipes such as Quail Eggs with Pearls of Bandar Pahlavi, Lamb Medallions Edward VII and Lobster Feuilleté Maxims so you too can try your hand at preparingor at least pronouncingthem.
Maxim's famous salon
What will people say?!: Depending on your friends: My what a classy establishment! or This shit looks real. As famous as its food is Maxims Art Nouveau interior, which was declared a historical monument by the French government in July of 1979. Its upkeep is entrusted to none other than the Louvre s restoration atelier while the third floor serves as a museum itself, preserving the Art Nouveau style.
Poiret ( the fat guy) at work
How this book will make your fashion brain grow: Fashion has always been an integral part of Maxims allure and its guest list reads like a history lesson in couture: Paul Poiret always accompanied by ten or so extremely beautiful women, all wearing his latest designs ; Gabrielle Coco Chanel always seated at table number 5; Christian Dior; Yves Saint Laurent; and Pierre Cardin, who bought Maxims in 1981.
Original bad girl, Liane de Pougy
If you like this, youll love: Liane de Pougys autobiography, My Blue Notebooks: The Intimate Journal of Paris's Most Beautiful and Notorious Courtesan. A regular at Maxims and one of its most interesting characters, de Pougy was known for winning fortunes in bed with men and then spending the money on women." She was also the official mistress of a prime minister and the fiancée of a baron, until she dumped him upon learning he was broke. When reading this, make sure to take copious notes.
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