As we all know President Obama won this year’s Nobel peace prize but what we probably don’t know about is the grand Nobel banquet that he will be attending.
On the 10th of December every year the Nobel banquet takes place in the Blue Hall at Stockholm City Hall in Sweden. Around 1,300 guests will be catered for including prominent representatives of public institutions, the Nobel committee, the Prime Minister and now also the Swedish king and queen. Eminent chefs are asked to submit menu ideas in September and when the menu is chosen it is kept secret until the day of the banquet but often includes something Scandinavian.
Since 1901 these feasts have taken place and just being an all male event until 1913 when ladies in evening gowns joined the gentlemen in their white ties and tails. Such a grand banquet even has to have its own staff with a Catering Manager, Banqueting Hall Manager, Head Chef, 20 Cooks, 8 Head Waiters, 210 Waiters and Waitresses, 5 Wine Waiters and 20 Washers Up. Thousands of flowers are flown in from San Remo on the Italian Riviera as this was where Alfred Nobel enjoyably spent his final years.
On the day of the event 65 tables have to be laid with linen by 30 white gloved staff. They must lay with precision the specially designed dinner set comprising 6,730 pieces of porcelain, followed by 5,384 glasses and 9,422 cutlery items.
The menus over the years have taken on certain trends. During the early years consommés were popular, to be taken over by Turtle Soup in the 1920’s until around the 1950’s as it was seen as an exclusive and difficult to come by ingredient. By the 1950’s the menus were becoming more varied and thicker soups began to appear on them. The 1960’s saw the introduction of fish or shellfish starters and liqueurs to finish the meal. Ice cream has always appeared on a Nobel banquet menu but by 1976 it became known as the Nobel Parfait with its very own ‘Ice Cream Parade’. Whereby the lights are dimmed and the waiters appear with trays of parfaits to the sounds of Swedish folk music played by fiddlers.
The menus are always written in French, last year’s menu comprised of a starter of sole with Swedish shellfish, fennel and dill. The main course was fillet of veal accompanied by seasonal veg and a potato tart, followed by poire belle Helene. We will have to wait until Thursday to see what this year’s will bring.
Photos courtesy of flickr talkradionew 3edc4rfv and Wikimedia Commons