Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Napoléon Bonaparte, Josephine, Chocolate Mousse

They say you learn something new every day. Reading French Marilyn's Blog this morning (see link this page) I discovered two things, there are members of the Napoléon Bonaparte family buried in Farnborough, Kent, close where I lived in England and also there are still more members of the family alive and well in France who want to bring the remains home and bury them in France. I have always been fascinated with that period of French history starting from the Revolution itself and ending with the death of Napoléon. I think the interest was sparked by being christened Josephine and that my grandmother had sent my mother a pair of baby bootees with a note saying "for Napoleon or Josephine". I am very glad I wasn't a boy.

I mentioned, in a previous blog, how much I had wanted to see the house in Martinique where Joséphine de Beauharnais lived but the taxi ride was just too expensive - I visited Chateau Malmaison in France which is one place she spent a lot of her time. When I went there it was in very good condition but I just saw a description of it being run down. It was one of the few monuments in France that was still furnished as it was originally. Mots of the other chateaus were stripped of furniture by the ravening hordes of the revolution, but of course, Chateau Malmaison was furnished after the revolution. I remember thinking the house and grounds were absolutely lovely. I was about 19 or so at the time. I used to tell people I thought I was her reincarnation, I don't think I really believed it although Joséphine and I did have a lot of things in common. Still do in fact. At the time I used to read everything I could get my hands on telling me about both of them. M.S. Coryn wrote some very good novels about both of them but I don't think those books are available any more. There was one book, A Swarm of Bees about Lucrezia Bonaparte, Napolèon's mother and another called The Marriage of Josephine. Both excellent books in their time. My paternal grandfather used to send books (including these) to my mother and I. He hardly knew us but he always chose fantastic books for us to read, I can't imagine how.

Right now I am reading The River God by Wilbur Smith which is turning out to be a very good book and contains some intersting background on the Egyptian's life, particularly the information on the tomb building and how the country was bankrupted to furnish gold and other precious funerary items for the Pharoah's tomb I have just got to the point where Egypt was invaded by The Shepherd Kings. I had to Google them as I didn't really know who they were. However, it turns out that the book is totally fictional despite an assertion at the end, by Wilbur Smith, to the contrary. I can certainly recommend the book as a good novel.

Yesterday was a bowling day, the summer league. It turns out to be much more fun than the winter league as there is a little team competition which there is absolutely none of during the winter. Apparently people want to be on the same team in the winter league so won't be split up by their averages. A pity, it makes it much more interesting. Because we have to get out of the house on time, I usually have a Lean Cuisine meal for my lunch. One I have had a couple of times now is the Oriental Ginger Beef Stir Fry. The sauce on this is absolutely delicious. The meals themselves are not much to write home about, but I wish I could duplicate this sauce.

How about something chocolatey for my recipe today. Here is another chocolate mousse which I got from the Yahoo groups cookery club I belong to. I absolutely adore chocolate mousse.

Amedei Chocolate Mousse

Servings: 4

275g dark chocolate (70-75 per cent), cut into small pieces,
plus about 40g of grated chocolate to finish
150g unsalted butter
8 medium egg yolks, at room temperature
1tbsp caster sugar (optional)
8 medium egg whites

Melt the pieces of chocolate and butter either in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don't let any water get into the chocolate. Leave to cool a little, then whisk the egg yolks and sugar, if using, and stir into the chocolate mixture. Whisk the egg whites
until soft peaks have formed (you may want to do this with a mixing machine) and then very carefully fold into the chocolate mixture with the grated chocolate, ensuring you don't lose any volume - what you want is a mousse that stays nice and light. Transfer into a serving bowl and chill for a couple of hours.

Have a great day.


  1. Josephine -- You've made my day! I am so happy to know that someone found what I blogged yesterday about the Bonapartes interesting.

    You should join the Napoleon Organisation. It's free and it's here http://www.napoleon.org. You'll receive a newsletter every Friday and you'll be able to keep up with the latest Napoleon news.

    I am a Napoleon 'enthusiast'. I believe he was the greatest Frenchmen ever -- and as you will know, he was Corsican!

    I plan to go to Saint Helena one day ...

  2. Thanks for the web site. I will check it out. I don't know I am as enthusiastic as you, but I certainly was always interested in that era.