“It is June 19, 1867. Summer has begun. With the change of seasons, the days will begin to get shorter as well as warmer. There is work to be done. There are fields to be tended, but today is a holiday. To the Catholics of Querétaro, Mexico, it is a religious festival, the Fête-Dieu. In a few hours, the date will become associated with another, more sorrowful occasion. For today, Maximilian will die: Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria, or, to the people of Mexico these past three eventful years, Emperor Maximilian. Today is a holiday, and it will henceforth be a mournful one….”
The latest blog entry is up on Engine43’s site, revealing more about the complicated history informing Friday night’s meal and event.
If so inclined, this would be a good evening to wear something on the dressier side. Not a problem to come as you are, but you have the option. The environment at the Regency is an evocative one.
Photo from the development dinner held on Monday, June 20, courtesy of Jesse Nichols.
A Sors is a meal-as-art-project created by Julio César Morales and Max La Rivière-Hedrick, with Norma Listman. Taking place on Friday, June 24 in the Lodge at the Regency in San Francisco, the event employs food, libation, live music, and scent to tell a lost story of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. A Sors investigates Maximilian’s brief, tragic rule of Mexico, from 1864 to 1867, through the vantage of his most intimate and trusting relationship: the one with his imperial chef and confidant, a Hungarian known as Tudos.
A Sors translates from Hungarian as “destiny.” The bloody end of Maximilian’s reign yielded numerous conspiratorial recountings: he was ushered out of the country after his Freemasons brethren faked his death; he bribed the firing squad with gold to aim at his heart; he wore the 41.94-carat diamond that bears his name to tempt, or mock, his executioners. Maximilian today exists in the popular imagination primarily as a victim of Napoleon’s rule, and as the subject (mid-execution) of Manet’s famed painting. In the operatic version that informs this meal, Maximilian dies, but at the hands of his friend Tudos, who accompanies him by carriage to the execution site and, at Maximilian’s request, kills him before they reach their destination.
A Sors is a performance with four courses. The first three sum up the constituent parts of modern Mexican cooking: Spanish, French, and Mexican. The fourth and final course, a Hungarian dessert, acknowledges the bond between Maximilian and Tudos.
We’ll continue to add posts as this project develops, but you can also track it in words and pictures on the artists’ blog, Engine 43.