The New Larousse Gastronomique

When I was writing The Cartoon Guide to Recreational Drugs I scoured the local libraries and bookstores looking for useful and interesting historical works. The New Larousse Gastronomique is one of my sources.

The parts I generally took notes from were either about the drugs themselves or the prohibition of drugs. You’ll find the information garnered from these books throughout the Prohibition Politics section of this site. It will also have informed some of my own postings stored in the older Prohibition Politics archive.

If you find this information useful, you will want to search out the books themselves to read the text in context. All of the books here are at least moderately interesting.


Prosper Montagné’s cookbook is the foundation of many a kitchen; but there are a few recipes that you aren’t going to be able to master without risking prison time. It’s fascinating that at one point ingredients such as cocaine were unremarkable fare for dessert.

ABEL-MUSK AMBRETTE—An aromatic plant grown in Martinique, the seeds of which have a very strong, musty smell. In India these seeds are mixed with coffee to give it a special aroma, and to heighten its stimulating properties.

Ambrette is also the name of an ambergris-scented variety of pear.

ABSINTH. ABSINTHE—Liqueur made by macerating and distilling the leaves of wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) then adding other aromatic plants (fennel, Chinese anise, hyssop, etc.).

Absinth (colloquially known as la verte) was the apéritif in vogue before the 1914 war.

Absinth wine. VIN D’ABSINTHE—Wine spiced by infusion of wormwood leaves.

CAFFEINE. CAFéINE—Alkaloid substance contained in coffee, which acts on the nervous system. A moderate amount of coffee soothes, eliminates the feeling of tiredness and exhaustion, makes mental work easier, dispels drowsiness. A bigger dose can bring on nervous excitation, trembling, insomnia.

Coffee has a stimulating effect on the heart if taken in moderation; excessive coffee drinking causes palpitations and irregularity of the heartbeat.

Coffee also acts as a digestive stimulant, speeding the passage of food through the body (and often causing diarrhoea). It can have a diuretic effect. On the other hand, cases of articular deformation, cited by Brillat-Savarin, are not caused by excessive intake of coffee.

Coffee (especially strong black coffee) must not be given to children, adolescents, people of nervous disposition or those suffering from heart conditions; nort should it be given to certain dyspeptics.

Although Voltaire, who drank six cups of coffee daily, was loud in its praise, his over-indulgence could have had a bearing on the enterocolitis from which he suffered to the end of his life.

Finally, black coffee ought never to be drunk on an empty stomach and white coffee is even worse for the system than black.

COCA—Peruvian shrub, the leaves of which are chewed by the Indians. Considered an economical food, its properties are due to the effect produced by its alkaloid, cocaine, which is as stimulating as tea or coffee.

It is used as an infusion, as a wine, as an elixer, and also used as an ingredient of certain cakes.

MUSHROOMS, CHAMPIGNONS—Cryptogamus plants, devoid of chlorophyll, of which there are a great number of species, some edible, some poisonous….

Amanita pantherina (panther cap). L’AMANITE PANTHéRINA (FAUSSE GOLMOTTE)— Has first of all a rounded cap, which becomes curved, then flattens out. The colour is variable, brown, greyish red, the colour of dead leaves, sometimes dark yellowish green, almost always covered with scales (the debris of the volva) which sometimes disappear after prolonged rain. It has white gills; a white ring; and a white stalk whose swolen base buried below ground bears two or three circular ridges. Similar to Amanita pantherina is Amanita brunnescens which is typical of North America. [Listed as poisonous]

Amanita muscaria (fly agaric). L’AMANITE JMUSCARIA (TUEMOUCHES, FAUSSE ORONGE)— Its cap, of the same form as the preceding species [pantherina], is a brilliant vermillion red or orange red covered with whitish debris from the volva, except after heavy rain; white or yellowish gills; a white ring. The base of the stem, underground, is covered with white scales. [Listed as suspect]

Mushroom poisoning—Leaving aside the mushrooms which are suspect and can produce serious indigestion, there exist two types of poisoning according to the type of poison contained in the fungi.

Muscarine poisoning (Amanita muscaria, Amanita pantherina, etc.) resembles atropine intoxication.

The start is rapid (1 to 4 hours after eating). It is characterised by an indefinable malaise, rapidly followed by colic, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach cramps, abundant salivation, followed by nervous disorders (delirium, excitement, fainting, reeling, dilation of the pupils) followed by prostration.

Avoid the use of alcohol which dissolves the poison, and attempt to empty the stomach by administering vomitives (lukewarm water, soapy water, never emetics); the patient must be kept warm, given frictions, made to inhale ether. The recovery often occurs in 1 or 2 days, the convalescence is short. There are, nevertheless, more serious cases, even fatal (20 per cent of cases for Amanita pantherina).

POPPY, COQUELICOT—Common plant in cornfields [note—probably European use of the term], the petals of which are used to dye certain liquids. The leaves, in spite of being slightly narcotic, are sometimes used as a vegetable like spinach.

The white poppy is cultivated principally for the extraction of poppy seed oil. The aromatic seeds were used in pastry-making in times of antiquity (they were known to the Egyptians earlier than 1500 B.C.) and are still used in many regions for sprinkling cakes and bread.

ZABAGLIONE, SABAYON—A cream mousse of Italian origin which is used to coat hot puddings but which can also be served in cups or glasses, as a sweet.

[The etymology of the word…]

Beat together in a basin 250 g. (9 oz., generous cup) sugar and 6 egg yolks until the mixture forms a ‘ribbon’. Flavour with 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar, orange, lemon or tangerine peel, or vanilla extract.

Add 2½ dl. (Scant ½ pint, generous cup) sweet or dry white wine. Cook in a bain-marie or in a double saucepan over a very low heat, whisking vigrously until the mixture becomes frothy and stiff.

[It then continues with variations on Zabaglion, including…]

Zabaglione à la kola, SABAYON à LA KOLA—Prepare some zabaglione using port wine. When the mixture begins to set, add 2 teaspoons of the following mixture: equal quantities of liquid cola extract and liquid coca extract flavoured with a littly syrup made from the rind of bitter oranges.

This zabaglione, which should be eaten very hot, is not only a very tasty dessert, but also an excellent medicine.