Where Does Mont Blanc Come From?

This particular pastry has a more definitive history than most. It’s all but synonymous with the pastry shop Angelina which is located across from the Louvre in Paris. The establishment was opened by a fellow by the name of Antoine Rumplemeyer, which by strange coincidence is the very name I use whenever I’m traveling incognito.

Rumplemeyer’s family had emigrated to southern France from Austria-Hungary in the late nineteenth century. Finding no Viennese-style coffee houses there, they decided to open their own. They began in Nice, spread to Monte Carlo and ultimately to Paris where Antoine opened Angelina in 1903. That was the year he invented the mont blanc, or, according to some, only updated and took credit for it.

For mont blanc very closely resembles an Italian sweet that goes by the same name, monte bianco, which of course also means “white mountain”. The Italians say their monte bianco dates back to the days of the Medicis. Also composed of meringue, whipped cream and chestnut paste “vermicelli”, they claim it was created almost 300 years before Rumplemeyer’s mont blanc became famous among the French.

I suppose it’s fitting that French and Italians would dispute the ownership of mont blanc for a hundred years, since they’ve disputed the ownership of the real thing — Mont Blanc mountain — for even longer. In art as in life, no?

6 thoughts on “Where Does Mont Blanc Come From?”

  1. Ah, what Paris owes the Austrians. First August Zang’s Viennese bakery and its croissants, then Rumpelmayer, whom the French Wikipedia identifies as an Austrian confectioner. It seems the still-flourishing Angelina’s was renamed at some point for his daughter (think “Wendy’s” and the “Lisa”). As it is, I know his name from ice cream parlors which have kept it, didn’t know he founded Angelina’s.

    When I was a student, one of my big treats on Sundays (when the French university restaurants were closed) was to open a can of chestnut puree, pour it in a bowl and dump a bunch of creme fraiche (slightly soured fresh cream) on it. This was the only Mont Blanc I knew.

    That’s about a week’s ration of calories these days.

    Thought I might find an earlier French version, but though there were lots of confections with “marrons” (which one source says is an improper term for “chataignes”), none seem to use cream or meringue.

    The Figaro covered “Rumpelmayer’s” several times in 1903, starting with its glittering opening in April of that year:

    Rumpelmayer a eu hier une brillante inauguration. Le premier hôte de son installation parisienne a été en effet S. M. Léopold II, roi des Belges, qui est venu non seulement goûter ses incomparables friandises, mais visiter l’établissement dans ses moindres détails.. Il a été si enthousiasmé de sa visite qu’il avoulu à toute force faire promettre à Rumpelmayer d’ouvrir une autre succursale à Ostende. Une foule très élégante a reconnu et salué le souverain.

    http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k2862221.r=Rumplemayer.langEN

    1. Thanks Jim! Chestnut paste isn’t so easy to find in Kentucky or I’d probably do the same thing! Thanks as always for the info, that’s a great little bit of research!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

    1. I’m sure your research was much more thorough than mine, Stavros! I appreciate the notice and will read your work with interest.

      Cheers,

      Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *