The "Bibliothèque de la Gourmandise" (Gourmet Library), the most important gastronomic library in Belgium.  One of the biggest in Europe

More than 20 000 cookery books and thousands documents (menus, labels, etc.)

chocolat-belge  art-bien-manger  pasteur-etude-biere  traite-vigne  pomone-tournaisienne  wynants




Under the responsibility of Charles Xavier Ménage, librarian and curator of the Gourmet museum, the Bibliotheca gastronomica brings together from 1992 more than 20 000 books about food, cooking (mainly European), the table arts and tobacco... traditionally included in gastronomy, since it is included in the 663.9 class of the universal Decimal Classification, as well as chocolate, cocoa, coffee and tea.

This classification is, however, not applied to Hermalle because the importance of the fund, the diversity of books and the need to rapidly integrate information have led Charles Ménage to imagine a different system fully operational.

The réceptaires (cookbooks) obviously occupy many shelves because recepts are mostly the basis of "cookbook". But this one can also cover a wide variety of topics including cooking techniques, recipes and comments of chefs, dietary advices, setting menus, keeping the household, rules of good manners, rules for reception, etc.

Food and cooking are in the center of life - we can not dispense -; so their study leads to all disciplines, whether scientific, artistic, philosophical or religious. The library also includes therefore bibliographies, biographies, history books, home economics, books on drinks, food preservation, food chemistry, physiology of taste, etc. and numerous monographs. Advertising, iconography, literature, music are not forgotten.
Added to this are the "flat" documents : wine labels, tobacco rings and thousands menus that reflect the customs of our contemporaries for over two centuries.

The whole forms an impressive ensemble which was available in consultation by everyone, but on motivated request and appointment because the library depends only on voluntary: a few (too few) volunteers help the librarian for computer encoding, storage and maintenance.

On the basis of this fund - that you can enrich by depositing your manuscripts, books, notebooks or family menus -, we research (eg on the "Liège coffee" at the request of the City of Liège), we write feature articles, we give illustrated lectures on the "History of Western cookbook until the twentieth century" and we prepare temporary exhibitions to the Gourmet Museum of Hermalle-sub Huy.

If reading gives a virtual satisfaction, sometimes literary - some writings can be appreciated for their poetry, humor, quality of writing -, sometimes taste - do we not salivate by reading some compositions of dishes? -, it is not always enough to understand the recipes because their realization sometimes is full of surprises ... for example in the estimation of time - 17 hours of cooking for a "Julienne consommé"!
Volunteers from our association have therefore chosen to "get into the thick of it," to undertake the realization of recipes of ancient chefs, to do this search for ingredients, calculating proportions, estimated duration of preparation and cooking methods, and to apply them in practice. This led to a few evenings tasting recipes from famous culinary authors such as Menon (eighteenth century), Gouffé and Cauderlier (nineteenth century), but also on the testing of medieval cuisine and inventive war kitchen - or how to make chocolate soup without chocolate ... 

Charles-Xavier Ménage, the initiator of this library, died on July 13, 2020; like the other members of our association, he wanted the library to continue. The transmission project he had initiated was carried out in October 2022: the library was taken over by the non-profit organization Center of Historical Gastronomy to found, thanks to it, a Research Center in the History of Food: the PRHAlim! (N.B. We would eat it, wouldn't we? ;) )

For any information on the historic gastronomy center and the future of the Gourmandise library, please contact MM. Glenn Vervust, president, and Pierre Leclercq, historian, on the page https://www.centredegastronomie


The library has also 4 other collections:

1. Collection about art history and archaeology:

2 500 books about architecture, painting, pieces of furniture, decoration, ironworks, silversmith's work, glass-making, ceramic, etc.

2. Collection about dance and choreography:

2 000 books about dance concerning notably bibliography, biographies, history of the dance and ballet, notebooks, dictionaries, anatomy, movement, technical manual workers (ballet, modern dance, jazz, Spanish dance, traditional dance, social dance), high schools, companies of ballet, literature, iconography, etc.

3. Collection Georges Plumier :

Local archives (Hermalle-sous-Huy) and dialectal literature

4. Collection about script and Post :

Documentation linked to the Museum Postes restantes

Take part in the enrichment of these collections
by depositing your manuscripts, books, or family menus

The reading room is opened to the public only by appointement. An expense participation is asked. The works are accessible in consultation, on the spot only.
We make researches on estimate.


Reading room of the Library.

Information and appointment by e-mail


Nota Bene :

  1. The BMG logo, that characterizes some documents in this website, means "Bibliothèque et Musée de la Gourmandise" (Gourmet Library and Museum).
  2. You have access to main articles (in French), from books to the Library of Gastronomy written, placed on the French part of this website - please, click on "Articles de fond".
  3. The Belgian Organisation for the Safety of the Food Chain has devoted a large space in the news of its website to the presentation of the Gourmet Library in January 2015.


Conditions for access to the Library :

The reading room is open to the public only by appointment and following written and reasoned request.
The works are accessible in consultation, on-site, at the following rate:

    • The 1st hour: 20 €
    • By following started hour: 12 €

The amount due is payable locally in cash against receipt.
Degraded documents must be refunded at the public purchase price.

Research by the care of the library for third parties are possible at the rate of 35 €/hour. Payment of the amount due is made on receipt of the invoice.

In any case, an indication of the Gourmet Library  must be made in any publication (print or online) that will result from the consultation of the documents or of research conducted by us.

Reproduction conditions: 

Only documents older than 90 years old or in the public domain may be reproduced by photography or scanner.

Photography with personal device

Photography computer screens is prohibited.
Authorization for shooting documents should always be sought from the Librarian who may deny or limit the right of reproduction in the case of unpublished documents or precious books.
Documents with more than 90 years of age or in the public domain can be free photographed with the personal device of the readers, provided that the photos are conducted for the purpose of private use and under the following conditions:

    • Installation location of the document for shooting chosen by the Librarian,
    • No flash,
    • No physical contact of the device with the document,
    • Number of photographed pages: maximum 10% for a book, 30% for a periodical.

In the case of a document fully or partially reproduced in facsimile, the date taken into account is that of the original document.

Scanning with personal device

Authorization of scanning should always be sought from the Librarian who may deny or limit the right of reproduction in the case of unpublished documents or precious books.
It will automatically be refused for

    • The documents with "hard opening" (when the document does not open more than 90 ° without forcing)
    • The large format documents whose format exceeds the scanner bed
    • Works whose thickness is greater than 10 cm.

Reproduction in care of the library, with sending by e-mail, is priced at € 0.25 / page.
Reproduction on paper, with sending, is priced at € 0.50 / page + postage.

Reminder: The Gourmet Library is a private library, unsubsidized, run by a non-profit association and can not afford to provide free services

Témoignages :

Remerciements : Charles-Xavier Ménage (qui m'a convaincu de me lancer dans la gastronomie historique) et Nicole Hanot du Musée de la Gourmandise à Hermalle-sous-Huy (...)

Pierre Leclercq, La joyeuse entrée du prince-évêque de liège Robert de Berghes.
Le 12 décembre 1557, une journée solennelle ponctuée par un somptueux banquet
Le Livre Timperman, coll. Histoire de la cuisine wallonne, archéologie expérimentale n° 1, 2009, p. 4.

Travailler, même bénévolement, pour votre bibliothèque et vos musées serait pour moi aussi enrichissant que profitable.(…) Articles scientifiques, articles de presse, aide à l’organisation de rencontres ou de conférences, révision du catalogue, numérisation de certains ouvrages… J’aimerais vous prêter main-forte.

Maryse Colson, La naissance du livre de cuisine. Étude discursive des ouvrages culinaires d’Ancien Régime (1651-1799)
(doctoral thesis), ULg, Liège, 2014 – per e-mail, 2014, December.