Today I’d like to take you by the hand and go on a journey back in time to Austria, 1776, when colorful composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was about 20 years old. Mozart’s life and work were marked by contrasts – while his music was recognized as joyful and playful, he had a melancholic side that occasionally peeked through, almost like a mirror of his own personality.
While he had a group of pupils and admirers who respected and loved him deeply, he also had his detractors, those who certainly would not hesitate to spread malicious gossip to make him look bad in front of the courts and patrons. Despite his relentless discipline in composing, he had chaotic, unpredictable behaviors that have been depicted in both books and films that show tinges of neurodivergence for which there was no treatment or diagnosis during this period.
Mozart’s terrible financial management skills could probably be attributed to this as well. He lived beyond his means and one thing no one could refute was that he gave free rein to his pleasures, especially when it came to food. Richard Wagner, author of works such as Tristan and Isolde and The Rhine Gold, collected a wealth of data, correspondence, testimonies, and recipes tracing the gastronomic route that Amadeus would follow not only in the two cities he lived in, Salzburg and Vienna, but also the dishes he tasted on his tours.
For example, an intercepted letter written by Leopold Mozart (his father) shows us some advice that the father would give his son to fight a cold. “Eat as much soup as you like, try not to eat meat, and if you do, make it a well-cooked lung or a well-made porridge.”
One of the composer’s favorite dishes was cod with oysters, although, as an admirer of the United Kingdom, he also had a fondness for London-style leg of lamb. When he toured Paris, the musician would also delight in lobster a la Madame Pompadour at a somewhat awkward dinner with King Louis XV and his mistress.
In addition, he enjoyed all the treats and confections that were prepared in Vienna, as shown in the historical fiction film Amadeus; however, there is no proof that it was Antonio Salieri who supplied Mozart with all those mascarpone and marzipan treats as the film shows.
But his most favorite food was quail in white wine with melon, and he used to eat it to celebrate the success of a premiere. One of his most memorable exotic culinary experiences was in Moravia, in what is now the Czech Republic.
Here, not only did the people seem to relate to his music more than other places he had performed, but the artist felt more at home. While in Prague, he tasted the famous beer carp that he would later describe to his father in an excited missive telling him of his success there.
Music and cooking seem to be linked in a curious way. If you are interested in knowing more about the favorite foods of musicians or to find out more interesting musico-gastronomic facts, write to us on Instagram @guia.gastronomica.cdmx