The art of exquisite French dishes is admired far beyond the territory of France. Today we are going back in time to deepen our knowledge of French cuisine. The origin of the French dish Bouchée à la Reine (literally translated as “the queen mouthfuls”) traces back to the first half of the eighteenth century. Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a tasty ride into the past!
What is Bouchée à la Reine?
Bouchées à la Reine are hollow cases of puff pastry, traditionally garnished with a mild creamy sauce made of chicken, truffles, white wine and mushrooms. The sauce is covered with a puff pastry “hat”. In classic French cuisine, Bouchées à la Reine are served as delicious one-bite appetizers, however, they might serve as a main dish as well.
The origin of the appetizer
Considered a traditional appetizer, this dish obscures a lot in its name and stands as a symbol of affection and betrayal. The probable origin of the dish leads us to the private affairs of the French royal court where infidelity was not always perceived as a vice. The creation of Bouchée à la Reine is attributed to the French queen Marie Leszczyńska (1703-1768). After having discovered that her spouse, Louis XV, committed adultery, Marie decided to take revenge on the mistresses of her husband and regain his passion by preparing a special plate for him. So, in 1735, Marie ordered her talented and inspired chef, Vincent La Chapelle, to create a dish with aphrodisiac properties, combining pastries and poultry, as she was a passionate fan of both. The original recipe consisted of pastries covered with a garnish of sweetbreads, lamb’s brains, cock’s crests and kidneys, marrow, quenelles of poultry, lamb testicles, mushrooms, truffles and olives. Unfortunately, the dish had failed to achieve the desired effect on the monarch. However, the adapted recipe of Bouchée à la Reine is still in favour today.
The difference between Bouchée à la Reine and Vol-au-Vent
Very often, Bouchée à la Reine is confused with a similar dish called Vol-au-Vent (translated as “windblown”). The only difference between these two dishes is the size: initially intended for several people, Vol-au-Vent has a diameter of 15 to 20 cm whereas Bouchée à la Reine has a diameter of only 10 cm. Vol-au-Vent was created by Antonin Carême (1784-1883), who was one of the most famous French chefs of that time.
Bouchée à la Reine in Luxembourg and Germany
The Luxembourgish name of Bouchée à la Reine is Paschtéit, however, the French version of the name is also on everyone’s lips due to the multilingual environment of the country. The dish can be found in almost every restaurant in Luxembourg, and chips and salad serve as a side dish. The unfilled pies made of puff pastry can be found in every Luxembourgish bakery. In Germany, the dish is called Königinnenpastete, which is translated as “the queen’s pâté”.
Nowadays, Bouchée à la Reine is a favorite on the tables of France, Luxembourg and Belgium as a festive inheritance of the courtyard kitchen. With or without pastry “hats”, this dish creates a joyful atmosphere in every house!
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Written by Olena Khomiakova, Schuman Communication Trainee Terminology Coordination Unit. Currently she is enrolled as a Master student in Learning and Communications in Multilingual and Multicultural Contexts at the University of Luxembourg.