Ailing and disillusioned Jean-Jacques Rousseau Les Rêvieries du Promeneur Solitaire or Reveries of a Solitary Walker is a memoir composed of a series of ten essays.  It was written in 1776-78 and, though unfinished, published posthumously in 1782.

Recollected in the “Fourth Walk,” Rousseau writes that he dined in en maniére de manière de pic-nic at Madame Vacossin’s restaurant: Il y a quelque tems que M. F*** [Foulquier] mʼengagea contre mon usage a aller avec ma femme, dîner en manière de pic-nic avec lui & M. B*** [Benoit] chez la Dame *** [Vacassin] restauratrice, laquelle & ses deux filles dînerent aussi avec nous. Noticeably, Rousseau uses a non-standard spelling for pique-nique, and he presumes his readers would understand the cost of the meal was shared. Presumably, each diner paid their share, but it is uncertain if they paid for what they ordered or the entire bill was shared equally. This kind of picnic is discussed by Spang’s The Invention of the Restaurant.

Dinning in this manner contrasts with Rousseau’s anecdote in Confessions of his meal with Abbe Condillac, at which the two men shared un repas à pique-nique in Rousseau’s apartment. This manner of dining was Parisian, and Gilles Menage’s 1694 dictionary defined it as a meal at each diner shared food, drink, or portion of the expense. The French did not use pique-nique in our modern meaning of the word for another three hundred years.

*  Also, read about piquenique in Emile and Confessions, Book IV elsewhere in *  The restaurant episode is famous because Rousseau lied and said no when asked if he had children, and he was the father of five children, all given up for adoption.

Featured Image: Jean Antoine Houdon. J.J. Rousseau (1778)

See; Rebecca L. Spang, “Rousseau in the Restaurant,” The Invention of the Restaurant: Paris and Modern Gastronomic Culture. Harvard University Press: Massachusetts, 2000 . [Anka Muhlstein’s Balzac’s Omelette takes Strang’s explanation with no credit given.]; Ménage, Gilles. Dictionnaire Du Etymologique De La Langue Françoise. 2 vols. Paris: Chez Jean Anisson, 1694.