Brie helps Prince Talleyrand triumph in Vienna

February 24, 2014

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand

Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand

There was another kind of storehouse for news, epigrams, witty sallies, a kind of “lion’s mouth….” The second spot was the big room of the ‘Empress of Austria’ tavern, which I have already mentioned. Every day, at the dinner hour, the place was thronged with illustrious and important personages, anxious to escape from the magnificent but somewhat solemn banquets of the Austrian Court….

Blue Stilton cheese

Blue Stilton cheese

The stories told there could have rightly been called the “Chronicle of the Congress,” and even the “Chronicles of Europe”; everybody of note, or of erewhile renown, being apparently responsible for his doings and sayings to the jurisdiction of the caustic Areopagus of that tavern….

Griffiths and I took our seats at one of the tables….

Cave Aged Gruyère Cheese

Cave Aged Gruyère Cheese

“Your great diplomatist this time in thorough agreement with the majority of the plenipotentiaries made another king yesterday,” said an opposite neighbor addressing me directly.

“Is it Prince Eugene?” I exclaimed spontaneously.

“Not exactly it’s the cheese called ‘Brie.’”

“You are trying to mystify me.”

Limburger cheese

Limburger cheese

“I should not presume to do so on so slight an acquaintance, but I can assure you that it is a fact. M. de Talleyrand gave a dinner party, and at the dessert, all the political questions were pretty well exhausted. When the cheese was on the table, the conversation drifted in the direction of that dainty. Subscription8 Lord Castlereagh was loud in praise of Stilton; Aldini was equally loud in praise of the Stracchino of Milan; Zeltner naturally gave battle for his native Gruyère, and Baron de Falck, the Dutch minister, could not say enough for the product of Limburg, of which Peter the Great was so fond as to dole himself a certain quantity measured with his compasses, lest he should take too much. Talleyrand’s guests were as undecided as they are on the question of the throne of Naples, which, according to some, will be taken from Murat, while, according to others, he’ll be allowed to keep it. At that moment a servant entered the room to inform the ambassador of the arrival of a courier from France. ‘What has he brought?’ asked Talleyrand. ‘Dispatches from the Court, Your Excellency, and Brie cheeses.’ ‘Send the dispatches to the chancellery and bring in the cheeses at once.’ The cheese was brought in. ‘Gentlemen,’ said M. de Talleyrand, ‘I abstained just now from breaking a lance in favor of a product of the French soil, but I leave you to judge for yourselves.’ The cheese is handed round, tasted, and the question of its superiority is put to the vote, with the result I have told you: Brie is proclaimed to be the king of cheeses.”

Brie

Brie

Comte A. de la Garde-Chambonas, Anecdotal Recollections of the Congress of Vienna (London: Chapman & Hall, Ltd., 1902), 200-2, 208-9.

Short Stories on Honor, Chivalry, and the World of Nobility—no. 362

Try Two Delicious Recipes With Brie

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share

Previous post:

Next post: