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The Nonesuch was third or fourth Georgette Heyer book I read, sometime back in early December. Heyer rarely goes into detail about what food her characters eat when they sit down at a table or encounter a buffet, but in one scene in this book she does.
The repast she set before her guests was certainly enormous, consisting of two courses, with four removes, and a score of side-dishes, ranging from a rump of beef à la Mantua, wax baskets of prawns and crayfish, to orange soufflés and asparagus, and some atlets of palates: a delicacy for which her cook was famous.
(pp. 66-67 in the 2005 Arrow Books reprint)

Now it's true, I don't know what "à la Mantua" means with regard to beef, and I'm not sure quite what the wax baskets are doing with the prawns and the crayfish. But what I really wanted to know was what on earth atlets are. I asked the OED, and it had nothing to say. I web searched, and my every effort either came up empty or was foiled by atlets being both a common misspelling for atheletes, and a perfectly good word for athletes in various other languages. My exciting new copy of The Oxford Companion to Food was of no help either.

Much as the desire to know what atlets are has been with me for a month yet, it was not quite so pressing as to send me to do serious research on the subject. At least, not yet. But it might soon.

Unless, of course, one of you - dear readers - happens to know.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 13th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
My gut feeling is that it could be tartlets in disguise - either a period spelling variant or a mistake not spotted by her editor. (Just as they didn't spot the howler in Frederica about the Soho Foundry.)
Jan. 13th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC)
It's true, most of the books contain a reasonable sampling of severe typos. I'd love for this to be a real word, even if it's not. Your hypothesis certainly explains my inability to locate the word anywhere.

I must say, tartlets of palates doesn't sound very appetizing for the modern meaning of palates. Palates from what kinds of creatures? But I suspect, presuming no typo there, that "of palates" may mean something like "of various different tastes".
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
Lark's tongues? One can hope.
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:02 am (UTC)
Better news! I think I've found it, thanks to some help from hairyears below. Hâtelets are a form of kebab, and they are indeed arranged in spectacular showpiece style, as per a print which accompanied a recipefor them. I'll translate the recipe and repost the picture tomorrow as followup.

The palates are going to be from a large animal - beef, perhaps - since they're stuck on kebabs.
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Soft palates cut from the head? I suppose they did eat more bits of an animal than we think we do...
Jan. 13th, 2007 11:56 pm (UTC)
Yikes "atlets of palates". No idea!
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:28 am (UTC)
Might I suggest atelets?

Some dinner, when a rump of beef is considered a side dish!
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:35 am (UTC)
A promising direction! I can't think why a sauce on its own would be a star of a show where, as you observe, rump of beef is a side dish. But it's closer to probable than anything I've found, presuming it's not a typo in the first place.
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:41 am (UTC)
A further elaboration on "sauce aux hâtelets"

From The Thorough Good Cook
by George Augustus Sala
recipes from 1896
: a recipe for making Hatelets (the sauce). But it's called Hatelets all on its own with no word "sauce" to complete the name. Still, however, a sauce.

Jan. 14th, 2007 12:46 am (UTC)
Hatelets is proving a productive direction. Marie-Antoinette, apparently, dined on "Les hatelets de lapereaux" on 24 July 1788. It's listed as a dish in its own right.

The same meal is cited by The Old Foodie as well, albeit for another purpose.
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:56 am (UTC)
And better yet - recipes for Hatelets which are MUCH more like showpieces! And they feature tongue (i.e. palates?)! And it's related to the sauce! And there's even a picture of one!

http://www.gianniferretti.it/horsc7.htm (Search for "hatelets" down the page and you'll find it.)

I'll post a translation of the recipe accompanying the picture tomorrow when it's not past midnight.
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
There's also this, slightly higher up:

414. Palati fritti all'inglese.

Palais de boeuf à l'anglaise.

Imbianchite quattro palati di bue; privateli della pelle e cuoceteli nella pentola; indi levateli e riponeteli in una casseruola con buon consumato; qualche fettolina di lardo e di giambone e un mazzetto d'erbe guernito; quando sono ben cotti e glassati, lasciateli raffreddare e tagliateli, mediante uno stampo, a rotondini della grandezza d'un pezzo di venti lire e disponeteli in una tortiera. Fate ridurre a metà un litro di salsa vellutata con qualche cucchiaio di sugo condensato, a cui unirete un tritume di tre tuorli d'uova sode, ed un cucchiaio di prezzemolo imbianchito, pepe bianco, sale, il sugo d'un limone e un pezzo di burro. Con questo composto stratificate i palati passandoli all'uovo e al pane, e al momento di servire friggeteli pochi alla volta in grasso ben caldo, affinchè prendano colore immediatamente, altrimenti l'impanatura si scioglierebbe.

"Palati"= Palates?
Jan. 14th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yes indeed. Fried English-style palates.
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:52 am (UTC)
palates seems to refer to tongue, I'd say, via OED on 'palate (n. and a.)'

c. Cookery. The palate of an animal, esp. of a bullock, as an item of food. Now hist.

1747 H. GLASSE Art of Cookery ii. 23 After boiling your Palates very tender..blanch them and scrape them clean. a1756 E. HAYWOOD New Present (1771) 167 To fricasey Ox Palates. 1791 J. BOSWELL Life Johnson I. 255, [Quoting Johnson, 5 Aug. 1763] I remember, when he was in Scotland, his praising ‘Gordon's palates’, (a dish of palates at the Honourable Alexander Gordon's,) with a warmth of expression which might have done honour to more important subjects. 1973 C. A. WILSON Food & Drink in Brit. (1991) II. 55 Mid-seventeenth-century recipes show them boiled with a neat's tongue or beef palates, or in a salad with slices of cold breast of hen or capon.
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Thank you! I've found a recipe for "Hatelets à la Villeroy" and they indeed include tongue. "lingua scarlatta" I'm not sure quite what animal "scarlet tongue" refers to, but it looks like it should be something robust - quite likely something like beef tongue.

There's even a picture with the recipe, and it's quite a showpiece.
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
And we also have the following english word...

Forms: . 4-5 hastelet, 4-7 hastlet, 5 hasselet, 6 haselet, 6-7 haslett, -e, 7- haslet. . 6- harslet, (7 harselet, (harsnet), 8 harcelet).

A piece of meat to be roasted, esp. part of the entrails of a hog; pig's fry; also, the ‘pluck’ or ‘gather’ (heart, liver, etc.) of other animals, as the sheep, calf, e

so french hastelet (with accent) = atelet

...my guess would be they ate roasted/skewered tongue, possibly with that sauce
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Following up on the forms you list, I have productive English-language results for attelet. It's the skewer used to hold the meat together.

Interesting that the word can refer to the sauce, the skewer, or the whole dish, depending on usage.
Jan. 14th, 2007 01:10 am (UTC)
And then the magic internet food research team rested, taking pride in a job well and quickly done.
Jan. 14th, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
So atlets can refer to serving your guests kebabs. I begin to think less of this hostess.
Apr. 8th, 2010 10:03 pm (UTC)
Historic receipts
I almost hate to re-open this discussion, but Google has an 1816 recipe manuscript which includes "Atlets of Palates": http://books.google.ca/books?id=QoMEAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA430&ots=eSsYT7M-8J&dq=%22atlets%20of%20palates%22&pg=PP11#v=onepage&q=%22atlets%20of%20palates%22&f=false
Apr. 8th, 2010 11:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Historic receipts
Thank you. I'm still happy to learn more about atlets!
Apr. 9th, 2010 04:11 am (UTC)
Historic receipts
I almost hate to re-open this discussion, but Google has an 1816 recipe manuscript which includes "Atlets of Palates": http://books.google.ca/books?id=QoMEAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA430&ots=eSsYT7M-8J&dq=%22atlets%20of%20palates%22&pg=PP11#v=onepage&q=%22atlets%20of%20palates%22&f=false
Jul. 3rd, 2011 02:26 am (UTC)
hatelets or attelets are decorative skewers used in classic french cuisine to decorate cold pates and terrines.look up any]engravings from 19th or 18th century cookbooks by famous chefs (Careme,Ranhofer,ect.)and you will see many dishes with hatelets skewered with truffles ,lemons,or more complex complex garnishes sticking out of the tops.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )