By Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson
French food is any such staple in our figuring out of good nutrition that we fail to remember the injuries of historical past that resulted in its construction. Accounting for flavor brings those "accidents" to the skin, illuminating the magic of French delicacies and the secret in the back of its old improvement. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson explains how the foodstuff of France grew to become French cuisine.
This momentous culinary trip starts with Ancien Régime cookbooks and ends with twenty-first-century cooking courses. It takes us from Carême, the "inventor" of recent French delicacies within the early 19th century, to best cooks this day, corresponding to Daniel Boulud and Jacques Pépin. no longer a historical past of French delicacies, Accounting for flavor makes a speciality of the folks, areas, and associations that experience made this food what it truly is at the present time: a privileged motor vehicle for nationwide identification, a version of cultural ascendancy, and a pivotal web site the place perform and function intersect. With assets as numerous because the novels of Balzac and Proust, interviews with modern cooks corresponding to David Bouley and Charlie Trotter, and the movie Babette's ceremonial dinner, Ferguson maps the cultural box that buildings culinary affairs in France after which exports its an important components. What's extra, well past meals, the difficult connections among food and state, among neighborhood perform and nationwide id, remove darkness from the concept that of tradition itself.
To Brillat-Savarin's well-known dictum—"Animals fill themselves, humans consume, clever humans by myself know the way to eat"—Priscilla Ferguson provides, and Accounting for flavor exhibits, how the actually clever additionally understand why they devour the way in which they do.
“Parkhurst Ferguson has her nostril within the correct position, and an infectious lust for her topic that makes this trawl throughout the heritage and cultural importance of French food—from French Revolution to Babette’s dinner party through Balzac’s suppers and Proust’s madeleines—a pleasant meal of various courses.”—Ian Kelly, instances (UK)
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Additional resources for Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine
Rather as if any given culinary mode must be thought of as what it is not as much as what it actually is, each term works off one or more contraries. So we talk about cuisine as fancy or plain, creative or routine, daily grub or festive fare. Regular rhetorical skirmishes these days pit organic foodstuffs against industrialized dishes; homemade dishes against store-bought, canned, or frozen; local, “authentic” products against exotica; oral against written culinary traditions. Then, the charismatic authority of the (customarily and most frequently still male) chef, reinforced by a plethora of military metaphors, sets up against the domestic authority of the (archetypically female) cook, dominated by comforting images of nurturing and the home.
When we reﬂect on how food is talked about in France, we cannot fail to be struck by the degree to which cuisine is assimilated into intellectual rather than material culture; by its systematic, aestheticized, and insistently normative disposition; and, ﬁnally, by the way this discourse aids and abets a decidedly national enterprise. The discourse itself, in its modern form, ﬂourished particularly in the nineteenth century. As it developed over that period in France, cuisine worked off and with the expanding world of restaurants and the professionalizing world of cooking.
Chaudrée was the original French word for chowder. From Brittany ﬁshermen carried the custom to Newfoundland, whence it spread south to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and New England. Clam chowder is already a variation on the basic chowder, which tended toward the cod ﬁshed in abundance in the Atlantic, sometimes in its salted form. Today, as this trajectory and history would lead us to believe, there are any number of local variations, including two that make use of neither ﬂour nor milk: Rhode Island clam chowder, with its clear clam broth, and Manhattan clam chowder, which adds vegetables to a tomato-based broth.
Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson