If the idea of cuisine invites readers to an elite place of appreciation, as Priscilla Ferguson has shown, comparing newspapers to leftovers and subsistence food is a move designed to generate suspicion. Nineteenth-century authors wary of press innovations compared periodicals to arlequins and marronniers—or the bouillie de marrons sometimes made from chestnuts. Associating newspapers with such cheap foods implies that the composition of these publications has been expedient. July Monarchy writers who were concerned about the forty-franc press’s tendency to decontextualize and fragment information communicated their anxiety through their uses of the arlequin metaphor. By the Second Empire, a growing market for reliable inoffensive information encouraged the publication of recurrent general-interest articles that would come to be known as marronniers. Neither term was flattering, but their overlap with culinary discourse helps reveal the contours of nineteenth-century writers’ concerns about newspaper format and press consumption.

You do not currently have access to this content.