Le Potager du Roi, a Kitchen Garden Fit for a King

Versailles, The King's Kitchen Garden (Photo credit: Pete Reed)

Versailles, The Kings Kitchen Garden (Photo credit: Pete Reed)

Winter still chills those of us north of equator and so the time has come to dream of gardens and kings and and cabbages and things like seed catalogs.

A while ago (OK, more than a while!), because of the burgeoning trend nowadays for local foods and backyard gardens — the most famous being the Alice-Waters-inspired White House veggie garden, a news story about Versailles came to my attention via Rachel Laudan’s excellent blog on food history. Published by The Times Literary Supplement (TLS) in the UK, the Versailles article exposed the misery, and not the myth, of the opulence at the court of Versailles during the times of Louis XIV and after. Yes, misery, believe it or not.

In follow-up comments on the post, a brief discussion arose, initiated by Sonia Bañuelos de Siguenza, author of Stella Dolce (an excellent jam and preserves company),  about the Potager du Roi, the King’s kitchen garden, not mentioned in the TLS article (actually a review essay of three books pertaining to Versailles). A response from Adam Balic, the author of Art & Mystery of Food, stated that the Potager du Roi initiated a profound change in French cookbooks: “This single garden is one reason why French cookbooks suddenly had huge sections on vegetables by the end of the 17th century.”

That’s an invitation, is it not, to peruse not just French cookbooks, but English as well?


For more on kitchen gardens, take a look at some of the following resources:

Websites

Harvest of Freedom: The History of Kitchen Gardens in America

Kitchen Gardeners International

Kitchen Gardening, by Tracy L. Yockey

Library of Congresses references (pathfinder)

Medieval Kitchen Gardens

Wikipedia on Kitchen Gardens

Books:

The Art of the Kitchen Garden, by Jan Gertley (1999)

The Food-lover’s Garden, by Angelo M. Pellegrini (1970)

In the French Kitchen Garden: The Joys of Cultivating a Potager, by Georgeanne Brennan (1998)

Kitchen Gardens of France, by Louisa Jones (1991)

Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden, by David Hirsch (Revised, 2005)

The King's Kitchen Garden

The Kings Kitchen Garden

© 2011 C. Bertelsen

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