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Babette's Feast

From the Story by Isak Dinesen aka Karen Blixen (Out of Africa)

To understand the theme of this dinner one has first to understand the character Babette
. A noted Parisian Chef, she has to flee for her life and is sent to the home of the most frugal sisters in a cold bleak coastal village in Jutland. The main ingredients of the daily fare are stale alebread soup and dried salt fish. Babette quietly transforms this evil gloope into tasty,lovingly prepared meals that bring smiles to the hard and wind creased faces of the villager's.
Then Babette wins the French Lottery and decides to give the village a special celebration dinner in honour of the clergyman father of the two sisters. The community are petrified of indulging in any French style decadence and decide to eat the meal in silence with no mention of the food or wine at all.
The ingredients for this amazing meal arrive by boat, the villagers have never even imagined fare like this. A cage of live quail. An enormous live sea turtle, umpteen cases of wines, champagne and liquor are trundled up to the sisters house. The knowledge, planning and cost of this meal is beyond belief. A great barrow load of animal bones and a calf's head arrive to be rendered down to fine stocks and sauces. To watch this woman knowingly and lovingly prepare dishes she hasn't been able to cook for some 14 years is wonderful, what pleasure it must have given her , knowing how astounded and delighted her reluctant diners were going to be. As each sumptuous course goes to the table the atmosphere softens, the faces glow and Babette seduces the palates of the frosty bickering villagers until they become utterly adorable. All the while they speak nothing of the food, they just become more amiable to each other. The only one who speaks is the General Loewenhielm who recognises Babette as the famous Chef from the Cafe Anglais purely by her Caille en Sarcophage, what an accolade after all those years!
When it is revealed that Babette has spent every last penny of her fortune on the meal one is quizzed to decide wheather she did this to re-live her past glory once again or is this an example of extreme sacrifice for the delight of one's fellow man, giving without counting the cost, labouring without expectation of reward.

Whatever, it is an example of the highest form of love. Totally platonic, completely satisfying and absolutely delightful.

There are many analogies in this film. Watch it first before you decide on this dinner. It is available on DVD at


Potage a la Tortue
Turtle Soup
Amontillado Sherry
Blini Demidoff au Caviar
Buckwheat cakes with caviar
Veuve Clicquot Champagne
Caille en Sarcophage

avec Sauce Perigourdine
Quail in Puff Pastry Shell with Foie Gras and Truffle Sauce
Clos de Vougeot
La Salade

Les Fromages
Cheese Selection
Baba au Rhum avec les Figues
Rum Infused Yeast Cake with Dried Figs

The price of this dinner for 12 people including wines and chef's fee is

It cannot work with econonomy wines so don't even ask!