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The Art of Cookery, Chapter III: “Read this Chapter, and you will find how expensive a French cook’s sauce is.”

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This is one of my favourite chapters in Hannah Glasse’s 1747 work; it minces no words in her opinions about French cooks.  Taken the historic context, it’s understandable:  The English had a love-hate relationship with the French, ever since France began breaking away (again and again) from the English kings’ rules, from the 1340s to the 19th century.  Quite a long time to build an opinion, that.  Even when at war, French fashion and trends were eyed enviously from the British side of the Channel, though usually in secret; in public it was usually an acceptable pasttime to blast the French whether they were at war at the time or not.  Hannah takes to it like a duck to the soup pot.  I’ve coloured the text of her jabs in the entire chapter, as follows:

A Macaroni French Cook, by M. Darly, 1772

A Macaroni French Cook, by M. Darly, 1772

Chapter III:  Read this Chapter, and you will find how expensive a French cook’s sauce is.

The French way of dressing Partridges.

When they are newly picked and drawn, singe them:  you must mince their livers with a bit of butter, some scraped bacon, green truffles, if you have any, parsley, chimbol*, salt, pepper, sweet-herbs, and all-spice**.  The whole being minced together, put it into the inside of your partridges, then stop both ends of them, after which give them a fry in the stew-pan; that being done, spit them, and wrap them up in slices of bacon and paper; then take a stew-pan, and having put in an onion cut into slices, a carrot cut into little bits, with a little oil, give them a few tosses over the fire; then moisten them with gravy, cullis, and a little essence of ham.  Put therein half a lemon cut into slices, four cloves of garlic, a little sweet basil, thyme, a bay-leaf, a little parsley, chimbol, two glasses of white wine, and four of the carcasses of the partridges; let them be pounded, and put them in this sauce.  When the fat of your cullis is taken away, be careful to make it relishing; and after your pounded livers are put into your cullis, you must strain them through a sieve.  Your partridges being done, take them off; as also take off the bacon and paper, and lay them in your dish with your sauce over them.

This dish I do not recommend; for I think it an odd jumble of trash; but by that time the cullis, the essence of ham, and all the other ingredients are reckoned, the partridges will come to a fine penny.  But such receipts as this is what you have in most books of cookery yet printed.

*Chimbol:  Probably Chibbol, a type of rock onion or stone leek of medium size.

**Allspice, also called Jamaica pepper, pepper, myrtle pepper, pimenta, pimento, or newspice, is a spice that is the dried unripe fruit (“berries”) of Pimenta dioica

To make essence of ham.

Take the fat off a Westphalia ham, cut the lean in slices, beat them well and lay them in the bottom of a stew-pan, with slices of carrots, parsnips, and onions, cover your pan, and set it over a gentle fire.  Let them stew till they begin to stick, then sprinkle on a little flour and turn them; then moisten with broth and veal gravy; season with three or four mushrooms, as many truffles, a whole leek, some basil, parsley, and half a dozen cloves; or instead of the leek, you may put a clove of garlic.  Put in some crusts of bread, and let them simmer over the fire for three quarters of an hour.  Strain it, and set it by for use.

A cullis for all sorts of ragoo.

Having cut three pounds of lean veal, and half a pound of ham into slices, lay it into the bottom of a stew-pan, put in carrots and parsnips, an onion sliced; cover it, and set it a stewing over a stove:  when it has a good colour, and begins to stick, put to it a little melted butter, and shake in a little flour, keep it moving a little while till the flour is fried; then moisten it with gravy and broth, of each a like quantity, then put in some parsley and basil, a whole leek, a bay-leaf, some mushrooms and truffles minced small, three or four cloves, and the crust of two French rolls:  let all these simmer together for three quarters of an hour; then take out the slices of veal; strain it, and keep it for all sorts of ragoos.  Now compute the expence and see if this dish cannot be dressed full as well without this expence.

A cullis* for all sorts of butcher’s meat.

You must take meat according to your company; if ten or twelve, you cannot take less than a leg of veal and a ham, with all the fat, skin, and outside cut off.  Cut the leg of veal in pieces about the bigness of your fist, place them in your stew-pan, and then slices of ham, two carrots, an onions cut in two; cover it close, let it stew softly at first, and as it begins to be brown, take off the cover and turn it, to colour it on all sides the same; but take care not to burn the meat.  When it has a pretty brown colour, moisten your cullis with broth made of beef, or other meat; season your cullis with a little sweet basil, some cloves, with some garlic; pare a lemon, cut it in slices, and put it into your cullis, with some mushrooms.  Put into a stew-pan a good lump of butter, and set it over a slow fire; put into it two or three handfuls of flour, stir it with a wooden ladle, and let it take a colour; if your cullis be pretty brown, you must put in some flour.  Your flower being brown with your cullis, then pour it very softly into your cullis, keeping your cullis stirring with a wooden ladle; then let your cullis stew softly, and skim off all the fat, put in two glasses of champaign, or other white wine; but take care to keep your cullis very thin, so that you may take the fat well off and clarify it.  To clarify it, you must put it in a stove that draws well, and cover it close, and let it boil without uncovering, till it boils over; then uncover it, and take off the fat that is round the stew-pan, then wipe it off the cover also, and cover it again.  When you cullis is done, take out the meat, and strain your cullis through a silk strainer.  This cullis is for all sorts of ragoos, fowls, pies, and terrines.

*Cullis:  A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick.

Cullis* the Italian way.

Put into a stew-pan half a ladleful of cullis, as much essence of ham, half a ladleful of gravy, as much of broth, three or four onions cut into slices, four or five cloves of garlic, a little beaten coriander-seed, with a lemon pared and cut into slices, a little sweet basil, mushrooms, and good oil; put all over the fire, let it stew a quarter of an hour, take the fat well off, let it be of a good taste, and you may use it with all sorts of meat and fish, particularly with glazed fish.  This sauce will do for two chickens, six pigeons, quails, or ducklings, and all sorts of tame and wild fowl.  Now this Italian or French sauce, is saucy.

*Cullis:  A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick.

Cullis* of craw-fish.

You must get the middling sort of craw-fish, put them over the fire, seasoned with salt, pepper, and onion cut in slices; being done, take them out, pick them, and keep the tails after they are scalded, pound the rest together in a mortar; the more they are pounded the finer your cullis will be.  Take a bit of veal, the bigness of your fist, with a small bit of ham, an onion cut into four, put it into sweat gently:  if it sticks but a very little to the pan, powder it a little.  Moisten it with broth, put in some cloves, sweet basil in branches, some mushrooms, with lemon pared and cut in slices:  being done, skim the fat well, let it be of a good taste; then take out your meat with a skimmer, and go on to thicken it a little with essence of ham:  then put in your craw-fish, and strain it off.  Being strained, keep it for a first course of craw-fish.

*Cullis:  A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick.

A white cullis*.

Take a piece of veal, cut it into small bits, with some thin slices of ham, and two onions cut into four pieces; moisten it with broth, seasoned with mushrooms, a bunch of parsley, green onions, three cloves, and so let it stew.  Being stewed, take out all your meat and roots with a skimmer, put in a few crumbs of bread, and let it stew softly:  take the white of a fowl, or two chickens, and pound it in a mortar; being well pounded, mix it in your cullis, but it must not boil, and your cullis must be very white; but if it is not white enough you must pound two dozen of sweet almonds blanched, and put into your cullis; then boil a glass of milk, and put it in your cullis:  let it be of a good taste, and strain it off; then put it in a small kettle, and keep it warm.  You may use it for white loaves, white crust of bread and bisquets.

*Cullis:  A strong broth made of meat or fowl with other ingredients used as a base for various sauces or as a restorative for the sick.

Sauce for a brace of partridges, pheasants, or anything you please.

Roast a partridge, pound it well in a mortar with the pinions of four turkies, with a quart of strong gravy, and the livers of the partridges and some truffles, and let it simmer till it be pretty thick, let it stand in a dish for a while, then put two glasses of Burgundy into a stew-pan, with two or three slices of onions, a clove or two of garlic, and the above sauce.  Let it simmer a few minutes, then press it through a hair-bag into a stew-pan, add the essence of ham, let it boil for some time, season it with good spice and pepper, lay your partridges, &c. in the dish, and pour your sauce in.

They will use as many fine ingredients to stew a pigeon, or fowl, as will make a very fine dish, which is equal to boiling a leg of mutton in champaign.

It would be needless to name any more; though you have much more expensive sauce than this; however, I think here is enough to shew the folly of these fine French cooks.  In their own country, they will make a grand entertainment with the expence of one of these dishes; but here they want the little petty profit; and by this sort of legerdemain, some fine estates are juggled into France.

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About Trinity

A melancholic pragmatist with a wide streak of mischief and an active imagination that turns into novels.

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