History of French cuisine – 4 golden phases
Enlisting such unforgettable and unparalleled chefs of all time as Carême, Bocuse, Escoffier, La Varenne, Fernand Point and Taillevent, French cuisine is considered the foundation of all basic forms of Western cuisine.
French cuisine is as old as the days when meals were just beginning to become a time of family pleasure. From being just another meal, 15th century French cuisine created a new wave in Renaissance Europe.
It was then that common foods began to be decorated. The flavor has been accentuated with new and improved storage techniques. With regular new discoveries in food preparation, food preparation was now becoming an art form. Even less or rarely used vegetables were served in a presentable manner with artistic carvings; for example, garlic, truffles, mushrooms, etc.
In a lesser known fact, French cuisine has been heavily influenced by the Italians. For several reasons, French cuisine shares a lot with Italians.
Here are the varied auras of French cuisine.
1. The Medici era of French cuisine
It dates back to the 1540s. Around this time, Catherine de’ Medici (pronounced MED-a-chee), daughter of the Duke of Urbino, married the future King of France, King Henry II. As she headed for France, a host of skilled cooks came with her. An expert in the way of Florence, the new queen has become a great instrument of change. She regularly threw lavish parties and wanted all the influential women in town to attend these parties decked out in their finest outfits. These parties had become almost a fashion saga.
A few years later, another Medici married another king of France. Food ideas continued to flow and the culture continued to grow. Catering is gradually becoming an important activity in France.
Around this time, just like the Italians, the French began decorating their tables with fine china, glassware and fashionable serving dishes. Overall, catering has become an indispensable part of French culture.
2. Le Cuisine François’ era of French cuisine
When the culinary culture was already deeply rooted in France, La Varenne, a well-known French chef, wrote the very first cookbook in history in 1652. This book was later considered the Bible of French cuisine. This book contained detailed instructions regarding preparation methods as well as recipes listed in alphabetical order.
3. The era of Louis XIV in French cuisine
French cuisine took another important step at this time when the “fork” became an essential and usual part of food. Also Louis XIV came up with a new idea of serving food. Unlike in the past where all dishes were placed together on the table and landed as they cooled, Louis XIV introduced sequential serving of dishes. It’s now that cooks have started experimenting with various odd-sized utensils and containers to add that flavor of appearance and enhance meal preparation.
4. The era of nouvelle cuisine in French cuisine
As the newly introduced changes began to seep into homes across the country, the two cultures blended together in a fairly western fashion. The mixture of old and new became known as New Cookery or Nouvelle Cuisine. Classical French restoration methods were quite expensive, time-consuming and tedious. Here, people have settled for simple, modest and practical food methods.