One of the largest historic residences in Europe

Mannheim Baroque Palace

Werbemotiv des Themenjahres 2018; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Lothar Bertrams
Treats from the court confectioner

Sweet delicacies

for the royal table

In the 18th century, a banquet consisted of three courses, each of which would have offered many dishes. The first two courses were prepared by the kitchen, while the dessert course was served by the court confectioner. The latter also created table decorations made of sugar.

Teahouse made by the Frankenthal factory, Mannheim Baroque Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Steffen Hauswirth

The successor to table decorations made of sugar: porcelain figurines.

Sweet magnificence

For the royal table, the court confectioner made ornate decorations out of sugar—sometimes monumental structures with exquisite motifs. The pieces were made of colored sugar and tragacanth, a thickener made of plant sap. The imposing sugar structures were created by heating sugar to a certain temperature, at which point it can be drawn and blown like glass. These works of art became affordable due to the raw sugar imports that began in the 16th century. 

Schwetzingen Palace, ice cellar in the upper waterworks. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Sandra Moritz

The ice cellar of Schwetzingen Palace.

For dessert: ice cream and fruit sorbet

In the 18th century, the court confectioner served ice cream or fruit sorbet as a delicious dessert. The ice needed for such desserts was sawed out of frozen lakes in winter and brought to the palace ice cellars, such as the one in Schwetzingen Palace. To make such delicious delicacies, metal or glass containers were surrounded with ice. The ingredients were placed in these vessels and stirred until ice crystals began to form on the rim of the containers. 

Drawing of a ripe pineapple by Maria Sibylla Merian, 1705. Image: Wikipedia, in the public domain

Drawing of a pineapple from 1705.

Pineapples in porcelain bowls

At the end of the banquet, the court society would go into another room to enjoy a final delicacy: it was a special treat in the 18th century to serve guests fresh pineapples. The pineapples were grown in the orangery by the court gardener. Growing pineapples was a symbol of status, because building and operating greenhouses was expensive. Estimates indicate that, in the 18th century, it would take three years for the first fruit to be ripe. 

Detail from the painting "The Tea Drinkers" in Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, credit unknown

Shared enjoyment!

The grand finale: a cup of coffee

At the end, fine ladies and gentlemen would have coffee. The historical preparation was very similar to how we would do it today. The roasted and ground coffee was placed in a pot and brewed with boiling water. However, the way it was consumed would no longer be considered polite. The coffee was poured in a cup, mixed with milk and sugar, and then poured into the saucer so that the coffee grounds remained in the cup.

TIPP

Enjoy a truly special evening: During the "Sparkling Enjoyment Under the Glow of Chandeliers" special tour, visitors experience the palace at night, with all the elegance it would have had during a court ball!

TIPP

Our modern dining culture is still deeply rooted in history and distant traditions. The “Dining and Drinking” topic takes visitors on a culinary trip through the cultural history of culinary delights from antiquity to present day.

Von Tisch und Tafel