Ludwig II of Bavaria Dines at Meicost Ettal

Image        Grotto Linderhof

“By the time Linderhof was ready for Ludwig to live in, his manner of life was further than ever removed from reality. He arose at six or seven in the evening and had breakfast, dined at two hours past midnight, supped and retired at dawn. He liked to take his meals alone, but the table was usually set for three or four. Who were the unseen guests? Louis XIV was one, perhaps; a servant once came upon Ludwig saluting and talking to a statue of Louis XIV that stands in the main hallway of Linderhof. (Ludwig believed himself a spiritual heir of the Bourbons because his grandfather, Ludwig I, had been a godson of Louis XVI. He sometimes called Linderhof ‘Meicost Ettal,’ an anagram of l’état c’est moi.) Often the ghostly dinner would take place at Ludwig’s Tischlein-deck-dich, a table copied from one at Versailles that could pop into view, fully spread, by means of machinery that boosted it through the floor. The kitchen had always to be ready for sudden changes in the royal appetite. Ludwig liked kingly-looking food–peacock, for instance, stuffed with forcemeat and truffles and served up with its head and tail feathers. He expected dishes like this to be on hand when he wanted them and thought nothing of advancing or retarding dinner without consideration of the cooks’ nerves. Sometimes he would suddenly decide to dine on a perch amidst the branches of a large lime tree in the garden; or in a mountain hut; or at the Schachen, a hunting lodge designed in a curious blend of Swiss chalet and Turkish kiosk; or in one of several outbuildings that he constructed on the Linderhof grounds–the Moorish kiosk, Hunding’s Hut, or the Grotto.

Hunding’s Hut (destroyed in 1945) was a replica in-the-round of a stage set for the first act of Die Walküre. In the middle was a living ash tree, pierced by a replica of Siegfried’s sword. For the rest, there were a lot of antlers and bearskins, and when the King was in a jovial mood, he and a few favored courtiers would lie about dressed as early Teutons and drink mead out of horns. Game was their principal food; silver jugs in the shape of deer held cream for coffee–which would doubtless have surprised Siegfried–and the salt and pepper shakers were shaped like little owls.”

“Ludwig’s Dream Castles,” Mary Cable, Horizon, January 1961, Volume III, Number 3

Grotto at Linderhof Palace: Softeis, May, 2005

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