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Claw at the Table

Layout 1Claw at the Table

By Cathy Kaufman

Paris, February 1, 1783, 9:30 p.m. Seventeen of Paris’s most distinguished artists, men of letters, and jurists braved the winter chill for a supper at the city’s most fashionable home. Hosted by Alexandre-Balthazar-Laurent Grimod de La Reynière (1758-1837), a 25-year-old lawyer and sometimes theater critic with a reputation for staging outlandish entertainments, the event, soon to be known as the “funeral supper,” was notorious even before it took place. In retrospect, Grimod’s youthful use of the table for social and political commentary seems an odd prequel to his mature career as a founder of French gastronomic writing and the world’s first restaurant critic. But nothing about Grimod was conventional or predictable, and he remains a fascinating, if enigmatic, figure….

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