Porcelain Pleasures

Horacio Salinas Recreates an Imperial Feast With Swallow Magazine

In the 1600s, porcelain was often referred to as “white gold.” Such was the value placed upon this lustrous ceramic, made from a formula of quartz, alabaster and kaolinite, first developed over 4,000 years ago in China. It took until the early 1700s for Europe to finally discover how to make the stuff, at which point royals began to furiously establish their own production facilities—the most extravagant of all coming in 1744, when Empress Elizabeth (daughter of Peter the Great and Catherine I.) founded the Imperial Porcelain factory in St Petersburg. A ruler without his or her own porcelain was unimaginable, and lavish services—hand painted and decorated with gold leaf—were created for most every occasion. Today porcelain, much like Europe’s monarchies, has perhaps lost some of its glamour. It’s often found in the sitting room (in old-fashioned display cabinets), and even in museums (the dinner sets of Russia’s imperial Romanovs, permanently on show at the Hermitage in St Petersburg, are among the most spectacular ever created), but it’s much less common in domestic kitchens. Swallow Magazine, a New York-based food and travel publication, is attempting to reverse the march of time and bring us back to an age where porcelain was at a premium. In this month’s "Trans-Siberian" issue (out this month in select newsstands and bookshops), china appears throughout—and nowhere more so than in photographer Horacio Salinas’s conceptual illustration of Empress Elizabeth's ghoulish coronation menu of 1741. Exclusively previewed here in collaboration with Swallow, the courses are a reflection of the pre-Francofied Russian court, a time when, while the taste of the food might have been ghastly, the dishes holding it were exquisite eye candy. The full menu that inspired these abstracted images is below—delicious, no?

Coronation Menu of Empress Elizabeth

Fricassee of Nightingale Tongues


Ragout of Deer Lips and Ears


Bulls Eye in Sauce, Upon Waking in the Morning


Moose Lips in Sour Cream


Boiled Bears Paws


Baked Pigeon Pies

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