restaurants and café culture, any real or metaphorical consumption in Margot should be considered in its contemporary culinary context.4 Moreover, drinking, dining and sex work were intimate bedfellows during the ancien régime. Elite brothels might provide (or at least give table space for) a meal as part of their services,5 wealthy kept women received contracts with local traiteurs (caterers) or elaborate cookware and dinner services as payment from their patrons,6 and the myriad cabarets, cafés, brasseries and, eventually, restaurants that flourished over the course of the century were an obvious spot for women to pick up clients – so much so that an ordinance issued on 8 November 1780 explicitly forbade the owners of such establishments from sheltering sex workers in an attempt to clean up the hospitality trade.7 In such a context, a fleeting cup of hot chocolate or reference to indigestion in a sex work narrative must be read as more than the sum of its parts; it is a detail that taps into contemporary considerations of the medical, social, and erotic body, as well as the body politic. A close alimentary reading of Margot tells us as much about eighteenth-century understandings of consumption as it does sex, philosophy and society. The following analysis of Margot tracks her story, exploring how images of consumption at each stage of her career do more than stimulate the reader’s appetite or incite amusement and revulsion. Instead, they reflect and amplify the philosophical and alimentary mores of the world in which their heroine operates. Margot’s first sexual experience takes place at a riverside tavern on the Quai de la Rapée. Then on the outskirts of the city, the Quai de la Rapée was a popular spot where Parisians would mingle for revelry, drinking and transactional intimacy in its bars and watering holes. Margot loses her virginity to the loutish ostler, Pierrot, in a dingy back room furnished with a few broken chairs and surrounded by walls covered in licentious graffiti, and celebrates the consummation of their relationship with a simple, hearty meal:
Notre festin répondait au mieux à la simplicité du sanctuaire. Une pinte de vin à huit sols, pour deux de fromage, et autant de pain; le tout,
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