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Château de Mont Cristo a hundred languages, and were eventually transformed into over 200 films. The books earned him enormous sums of money and enabled him to indulge his love of sumptuous living. He loved rich food and expensive wine and was said to have more than 40 mistresses – despite being married. He was a man of tremendous energy and enormous self-esteem, described by peers as a giant, both in mind and body. Dumas boasted, “If I were locked in a room with five women, pens, paper, and a play to be written, by the end of an hour I would have finished the five acts and had the five women.” He also had a castle built which he called the Chateau de Monte-Cristo, and in the grounds a smaller castle which was his writing studio, which he called the Chateau d’If after the setting of The Count of Monte Cristo, a small fortress island in the Bay of Marseille. Here he hosted fabulous parties, serving up dishes he created. The castle is now open to the public, a legacy of Dumas’ fertile imagination. The idea of writing a cookbook had been in Dumas’ mind for years. He would begin it, he said, “…when I caught the first glimpse of death on the horizon.” In 1869 he retreated to Normandy with his cook. Six months later, his Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine was finished. Of his book he said, “It will be read by wordily people and used by professionals. In cookery as in writing, all things are possible.” He called it his “pillow of my old age.: True to his vision, Dumas succumbed to a stroke in December 1870. Dumas’s epicurean tour of the alphabet, from absinthe to zest, is a treasure chest of hundreds of recipes, and reminiscences. Written without measurements, it is a master storyteller’s collection of consummate prose, worthy of being read as literature. Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine was published posthumously in 1873 and remained in print in its original form until the 1950s. In 1882 Le Petit Dictionnaire de Cuisine was published consisting of just Dumas’ recipes. In 2005, Alexandre Dumas’ Dictionary of Cuisine was edited, abridged and translated into English by Louis Colman. Le Grand Dictionnaire de Cuisine is truly a monumental work. Not only amazing for its collection of old world recipes, stories and historical facts, it creates a cumulatively unique portrait of the man himself. Dumas avowed he would not eat pâté de foie gras because the ducks and geese “…are submitted to unheard of tortures worse than those suffered under the early Christians.” And his description of the perfect number of dinner guests within the parentheses of ancient history still holds true today: “… Varro, the learned librarian, tells us that the number of guests at a Roman dinner was ordinarily three or nine — as many as the Graces, no more than the Muses. Among the Greeks, there were sometimes seven diners, in honour of Pallas. The sterile number seven was consecrated to the goddess of wisdom, as a symbol of her virginity. But the Greeks especially liked the number six, because it is round. Plato favoured the number 28, in honour of Phoebe, who runs her course in 28 days. The Emperor Verus wanted 12 guests at his table in honour of Jupiter, which takes 12 years to revolve around the sun. Augustus, under whose reign women began to take their place in Roman society, habitually had 12 men https://frenchcountryadventures.com/ Dumas had a metro station on line 2 named after him in 1970. There is also a Rue Alexandre-Dumas in Paris and 12 women, in honour of the 12 gods and goddesses. In France, any number except 13 is good.” For Dumas a perfect dinner is also “a major daily activity which can be accomplished in worthy fashion only by intelligent people. It is not enough to eat. To dine, there must be diversified conversation which should sparkle with rubies of wine between courses, be deliciously suave with the sweetness of dessert and acquire true profundity by the time coffee is served.” 70 | The Good Life France The Good Life France | 71
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