pearls before frogs

Escoffier once prepared a special dish, “Nymphs’ Thighs”, for Nellie Melba, Lily Langtry, the Prince of Wales and Duc d’Orleans. The recipe called for frogs’ legs poached in a court-bouillon with white wine and placed on a layer of champagne jelly with chervil and tarragon leaves between the legs to resemble grass.

image by Milanko

The Prince travelled to Paris, where a far more daring dish was served. When the lid of an enormous tray was raised, there lay before him the celebrated courtesan Cora Pearl, naked save for sprigs of parsley and a rope of pearls.

Coral Pearl

Cora fancied herself as a singer and dancer and often supplemented the income from her wealthy clients with theatrical performances.

“Cora’s artistic rebirth on the Paris stage was a breath of spring for a country anxious about the possibility of war. Determined at last to be seen as an artist, and not merely as a hard working woman, Cora spared no expense, and emerged on the stage in a very provocative costume that left little to the imagination. She had learned from the Italian Masters that there was nothing shameful about the human form, as long as it was exposed for noble purposes. Accentuating the outfit was a pair of boots that caused a gasp of astonishment in the crowded theater. Knee high, they were buttoned with diamonds the size of easter eggs, and the soles were encrusted with more precious stones from toe to heel. One nobleman, a Count, was seized by the desire to own them, and offered 50,000 francs for the chance – twice that if Cora would wear them when she relinquished possession. Though nothing is known of the outcome of this transaction, the evidence will show that Cora was always malleable when it came to men, and quite probably acquiesced to his request, if only so as not to hurt his feelings.


Cora was the trendsetter of 1860s France. Whatever she did, the nation followed. One day, in a lighted-hearted moment of whimsy, she dyed her hair to match the upholstery of her carriage, and the women of France followed suit. She had learned of a cunning make-up house in London, and began to have silver and crushed pearl face powders sent from across the Channel. She even shocked Parisian sensibilities by browning herself in the summer months, something unheard of at the time.

match your rocking horse’s hair to your own

When the Franco-Prussian War begun Cora proved her mettle, and a heroism unparalleled in the history of high society was revealed for the world to see. She turned her largest house into a hospital for officers, ripping apart her curtains and table linens to make bandages for wounded officers.

Torn Curtain by Robert Pyle

After the war ended, Cora attempted to pick up the pieces of her life. One man, Alexander Duval, harassed her constantly. He threw so much money at her that she didn’t know what to do. She tried to make him understand that she could never love him but he pulled out a gun and shot himself on her doorstep.

So overcome was she that she quite forgot to summon help, naturally thinking that others, too, had heard the shot and would do so. At her first social engagement after the shooting, she was stunned to realize that gossips were saying that she had left Mr. Duval to die on her steps, out of a cold-hearted indifference to his plight.

She was forced to sell her possessions and move to a shabby rooming house, where she died in 1886.

Instead of a sad, lonely farewell from a society that had used her and cast her aside, Cora’s funeral was a fairy-tale event organised by a mysterious benefactor, who paid anonymously for the largest, most lavish burial that France had ever seen

image (2010) here

Published in: on October 26, 2010 at 7:29 am  Comments (36)  
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36 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Exactly where was she wearing the parsley?

    • In her hair…..

      • Where was she wearing the pearls?

      • She followed these instructions….

        A good indication as to whether you have inserted the vibrator correctly, is when the bunnies ears come face to face with your clitoris.The PEARLS will be near the entrance of your vagina at this point.

  2. Sounds a little like
    email me if you’d like to know more.I have the 4 books 😉

    • There are 4? I’ve only seen one!

      • Rude Food, More Rude Food, Rude Health and Vin Rude.
        And I think they’re still in print.Well, they were when I blogged them a couple of years ago.;-)

      • Send me the post link… I’d like to read what you wrote

  3. I’d find it amusing if the women of today dyed their hair to match their cars.

    • My car is an odd shade of green. It matches my eyes but not my hair.

      • My car is white and I almost match!

  4. I want those boots – and that funeral bin bag/parachute (so useful in the rain n’est ce pas?)

    • Excellent choices. I’ll make do with the torn curtain.

  5. ” there was nothing shameful about the human form, as long as it was exposed for noble purposes”

    as always, “noble purposes” is subject to interpretation. i believe tis noble to take out the trash…

    • I believe ’tis noble to lie naked on the beaches of Lesbos with your two best blog friends

  6. i’ve had occasion to enjoy nymph’s thighs before. those didn’t have champagne or wine or chervil… but they sure were tasty, nonetheless!

  7. Ah another fine tale from the demi monde!

    • Of which there are many 😉

  8. Now this is excellent titling!!! And I love the idea of covering myself in my next (self-created) photo shoot with sprigs of parsley and pearls. Cora is inspiring. Should I post the pictures on your blog immediately?

    • Yes yes yes!

      You could also join in T Shirt Friday here on October 29th

  9. I think the good nurse put the part in about the boots just for me. She does know what I like, that’s for sure.

    • Indeed I do. Every morning when I zip up I think of you. And Tag Larkin.

  10. Ooh – I do so hope my interaction with a mysterious benefactor happens before my death.

  11. Champagne Jelly – should be the base for most dishes!

    • I had oysters with champagne jelly once – sensational!

  12. That Escoffier chap didn’t know much about nymphs, did he? I never met one who had grass in between her thighs. A bit of fluff, yes; grass, no!

    • How many nymphs have shown you their thighs Affer?

  13. Funny thing? I dye my hair to match the upholstery of my car.

    • You have hair Malach?

  14. Great red boots. I can see you wearing them on a Corset Friday. …And I thought frog legs were a Southern thing.

    • I thought they were mainly a French and Asian thing

  15. Aww… She was very misunderstood. Thank your lucky stars I haven’t shown up naked on a baking dish.

  16. Why couldn’t the benefactor have taken care of her while alive!?!?! Geez!!

  17. I wonder if Cora also dyed her carpet to match the curtains and carriage.

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