The truth behind LET THEM EAT CAKE

Contrary to popular belief . . . 

An old embroidery piece of mine featuring a cake by  Kate Sullivan .

An old embroidery piece of mine featuring a cake by Kate Sullivan.

I learned of this a few years ago upon reading Antonia Fraser's captivating biography, Marie Antoinette: The Journey. In it, she briefly espouses on the popular myth, explaining that the phrase was actually uttered 100 years before Marie had even been born by Marie-Thérèse, the wife of Louis XIV. Fraser continues, "It was a callous and ignorant statement and she, Marie Antoinette, was neither.

Another important note: The phrase was printed in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions, the final volume of which was completed by 1769 when Marie Antoinette was just 14; it would be another year before she even arrived at Versailles to marry the Dauphin.

Finally, as for Let them eat brioche versus Let them eat cake? My best guess is that it's just how the English language has adopted the phrase. I'd be curious to know what they say in France; is it still Qu'ils mangent de la brioche, or has it altered to Qu'ils mangent de la gateaux? Anyone know?

CakeBook Monday: THE STORY OF CAKE by Norah Smaridge

The Story of Cake by Norah Smaridge is today's pick for CakeBook Monday. Published in 1978, and aimed at young readers, it's a short book of interesting tidbits, a few recipes, and some out-of-date facts. The real gem is the author. Born in Liverpool, Smaridge came to the U.S. as a child with her sea captain father and became a prolific author of books for young adults including the straightforwardly titled You Know Better Than That. All that said, The Story of Cake is not a must-have unless you're an obsessive like me or have a thing for late-70s illustrations.

CakeBook Monday: CAKE, A Global History

This week's CakeBook book is a slim volume in The Edible Series,  Cake: A Global History by Nicola Humble. Covering everything from general history and culture to symbolism and literary relevance, the book manages to pack a lot into 127 pages. This is one I re-read at least once a year, and is a copy that I particularly cherish. Not just for the subject matter, but also for that fact that I once ran into Amy Sedaris while carrying this book and convinced her to sign it . . .