Quotes from The Virago Book of Food: The Joy of Eating
ELISABETH VIGÉE-LE BRUN
1755 - 1842
During my pregnancy I had painted the Duchess de Mazarin, who was no longer young, but still beautiful. My daughter had the same kind of eyes and resembled her amazingly. This Duchess de Mazarin was said to have been endowed at her birth by three fairies: Riches, Beauty, and Ill-Luck. It is perfectly true that the poor woman could never undertake anything, not even giving a party, without some misfortune or other turning up. Many misfortunes of her life have been related, but here is one less known: One evening while entertaining sixty persons to supper, she contrived to have on the table an enormous pie, in which a hundred small birds were shut up alive. At a sign from the Duchess the pie was opened and all the frantic little creatures flew out, dashing into faces and clinging to the hair of the women, who were all carefully attired and hair-dressed. You can imagine the tempers, the shouts! The unfortunate birds could not be got rid of, and were such a nuisance that the guests were obliged to leave the table, cursing such a foolish flight of fancy.
trans. by Gerard Shelley