Haute Cuisine: How the French Invented the Culinary Profession / Edition 1

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"Paris is the culinary centre of the world. All the great missionaries of good cookery have gone forth from it, and its cuisine was, is, and ever will be the supreme expression of one of the greatest arts of the world," observed the English author of The Gourmet Guide to Europe in 1903. Even today, a sophisticated meal, expertly prepared and elegantly served, must almost by definition be French.

For a century and a half, fine dining the world over has meant French dishes and, above all, French chefs. Despite the growing popularity in the past decade of regional American and international cuisines, French terms like julienne, saute, and chef de cuisine appear on restaurant menus from New Orleans to London to Tokyo, and culinary schools still consider the French methods essential for each new generation of chefs. Amy Trubek, trained as a professional chef at the Cordon Bleu, explores the fascinating story of how the traditions of France came to dominate the culinary world.

One of the first reference works for chefs, Ouverture de Cuisine, written by Lancelot de Casteau and published in 1604, set out rules for the preparation and presentation of food for the nobility. Beginning with this guide and the cookbooks that followed, French chefs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries codified the cuisine of the French aristocracy. After the French Revolution, the chefs of France found it necessary to move from the homes of the nobility to the public sphere, where they were able to build on this foundation of an aesthetic of cooking to make cuisine not only a respected profession but also to make it a French profession. French cooks transformed themselves from household servants to masters of the art of fine dining, making the cuisine of the French aristocracy the international haute cuisine.

Eager to prove their "good taste," the new elites of the Industrial Age and the bourgeoisie competed to hire French chefs in their homes, and to entertain at restaurants where French chefs presided over the kitchen. Haute Cuisine profiles the great chefs of the nineteenth century, including Antonin Careme and Auguste Escoffier, and their role in creating a professional class of chefs trained in French principles and techniques, as well as their contemporary heirs, notably Pierre Franey and Julia Child.

The French influence on the world of cuisine and culture is a story of food as status symbol. "Tell me what you eat," the great gastronome Brillat-Savarin wrote, "and I will tell you who you are." Haute Cuisine shows us how our tastes, desires, and history come together at a common table of appreciation for the French empire of food. Bon appetit!

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Trubek sees the world the way cooks do."—Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker

"A fine survey of French food and culture."—Bookwatch

"An impeccably researched history and reference for the cooking student and scholar."—Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
Trubek, an instructor at the New England Culinary Institute who has a background in anthropology, has given us an interesting account of the French contribution to the development of the culinary profession. Food and its preparation are examined both as cultural symbols and as means for creating social distinctions. The discussion focuses on French cuisine from 1870 to 1910, although events as far back as the 11th century are also recounted. The author addresses a variety of topics, including whether cooking is a trade or a profession, the role of schools and expositions, and the emergence of the restaurant. A brief glossary of culinary terms and a few illustrative recipes are featured, and there is an extensive section of resource notes. Recommended for large academic libraries and specialized culinary collections.--Mary A. Martin-Russell, New Hampshire State Lib., Concord Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Internet Book Watch
How did the French invent the culinary profession and rise to culinary heights? Haute Cuisine: How The French Invented The Culinary Profession charts the history of French cooking and French chefs, providing reviews of the pioneers of the field and their achievements. A fine survey of French food and culture, and how it influenced the world.
—Internet Book Watch
Kirkus Reviews
Trubek's slim overview of the French influence on culinary history suffers from the dry rhetoric of academese. Trubek dully and straightforwardly examines the development of the culinary profession from the Middle Ages to the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Her basic unarguable premise is that "haute cuisine equals professional cuisine." What began during medieval courtly feasts as social displays moved into chateaux, manor houses, and noble households before becoming (at around 1830) more widely consumer-oriented—in hotels, private clubs, and restaurants. Too often the text reads like an introductory course description. Sub-divisions of chapters discuss stocks, sauces, knife skills, cooking methods, pastry; "public dining in France during the Nineteenth Century"; a "definition of the bourgeoisie"; the "rigid and extremely hierarchical division of labor" between artisan and professional chefs; an overview of "associations and journals"; a plea for "professional rules." Unfortunately, very little of this is done with seasoning or panache. End-heavy with scholarly appendices (common French culinary terms; a few bland recipes), notes, and bibliography, the book could have benefited from more substantial recipes. A slow-to-boil (if impeccably researched) history and reference source for the cooking student and scholar.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812217766
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,376,644
  • Product dimensions: 6.08 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.57 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy B. Trubek teaches at the New England Culinary Institute.

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