27 September 2010

27 September - Saints Cosmas and Damian (traditional); Louis XIII

Memorial (on traditional calendars) of Saint Cosmas and Saint Damian, brothers, often depicted as twins, who, as skillful practitioners of the art of medicine, are patrons of doctors, surgeons, apothecaries, and pharmacists.  They took no money for their services, thereby leading many to Christ, and were martyred in the 3rd century.

Today would be a good day to send a message of thanks to your family doctor, the pharmacist who fills your prescriptions, or the surgeon (and his team) who saved your life.
Birthday, in 1601, of Louis XIII, King of France (d. 1643), son of Henri IV (the Evergreen Gallant) and Marie de Medici.  You might know him best from the Dumas novels concerning those brave swashbucklers, the Three Musketeers (and D'Artagnan).  Films seem to portray him as a buffoon, or at least as a very shallow person, only interested in his own amusements and gorgeous costumes (such as my own personal favorite movie with Jean-Pierre Cassel here as Louis.)

Not long after seeing that, there was another rendition of "The Man in the Iron Mask" (oh, by the way, Louis XIII was the father of him as well) in which D'Artagnan tells the rightful king that his father was the bravest and wisest man in France.
Richelieu (Charlton Heston) with Milady de Winter (Faye Dunaway) at the Ball in which Richelieu will try to discredit Queen Anne
"Will Your Majesty try the sweetmeats in this box? I'm sure you will find they are a royal confection." (Cardinal Richelieu (Charlton Heston) presenting Queen Anne's diamonds to Louis XIII (Jean-Pierre Cassel). [The Three Musketeers: The Queen's Diamonds, 1974]

The sweetmeats that Louis would have been expecting would have been along the lines of 'Sugarplums', a confection of fruits (not necessarily plums) preserved in sugar. The Historical Cookery Page has directions for making these treats.  Try making them, and you will agree that they are indeed, a royal confection, both in preparation time and ingredients.

A suitable toast to Louis XIII?  If you can, how about the cognac "Louis XIII de Remy Martin" at about $3000 per bottle.