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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1705

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FRENCH COOKERY
 
CHAPTER LI
 

General Observations on French Cookery, and Recipes for Typical French Dishes

The First Cookery Book in a Modern Language was published in Madrid in 1521. Spain has therefore the honour of being the pioneer in this direction, while France ranks next to Spain for developing the culinary art. France, although now the nurse of all modern cooks, was in a state of comparative darkness with regard to cookery until 1580, when the delicacies of the Italian table were introduced into Paris, and from that time the French made rapid progress in the culinary art, and soon surpassed their Italian masters. Now French cookery ranks deservedly high, perhaps higher than any other: and the land that gave birth to a Caréme, a Savarin, a Soyer, and other distinguished chefs, is justly proud of having raised the culinary art to a high standard of perfection. In France cookery began to be recognized as an important art in the reign of Louis XIV, whose great fêtes were always accompanied by sumptuous banquets. In the following reign the Cordon bleu, the order of knighthood of the Saint Esprit, instituted by Henry III, became the recognized definition of a skilful female cook. It is recorded that the distinction was first bestowed by Louis XV on the female cook of the celebrated Madame de Barry, as a mark of His Majesty's high appreciation of the excellent and elaborate repast prepared in his honour. In England refinement had not yet set its seal on even the most advanced branches of cookery, for instead of the "coulis de faisan," "salmis de becassines," "volaille à la Supréme," and other dainty dishes which are said to have earned the coveted "Cordon blue," we find included in English menus of that period such coarse preparations as black pudding, and the homely, savoury, but by no means delicate viand, roast goose.

Considering the rapid advance in other directions, it is an amazing fact that France, the culinary nation par excellence, ignored the existence of the potato until the year 1787, although it had been generally

1525