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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1706

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HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

known and appreciated as an article of diet in England and Spain for upwards of 150 years. Ultimately, Parmentur, a French cuisinière, introduced this edible root into his native land, and he not only induced his countrymen to accept it as a food, but at the same time he taught them more than fifty ways of preparing it for the table.

Apart from the simple processes of roasting, baking, boiling, and stewing, nearly all our cookery has been introduced from foreign sources. The French methods of dressing fish and vegetables, are now largely introduced into English kitchens, and French borugeoise dishes have become quite popular. Greater difference, however, exists between the diet of the French bourgeoise and the corresponding class in England, for while the former live principally on well-cooked, palatable, yet inexpensive soups, vegetables, and fruits, the latter eat more and better kinds of meat, yet fail to obtain a proper amount of nourishment from the same, by reason of the wasteful culinary methods employed. The French bourgeoise cookery is an essentially slow process, by which the natural flavours of the substances are extracted by gentle means, and at the same time other flavours are blended so artfully with them that no particular one predominates. Stews, ragoûts, and braises largely replace the joint which appears almost daily on our tables. In this lies the secret of the French skill in economy, for while only the prime parts can be roasted, and always at a considerable loss in weight, owing to evaporation and melting of the fat, the inferior parts may, by a long, slow process of stewing, be converted into easily digested, palatable, and nourishing food.

The prejudice against soup existing among the lower classes in England will not be readily dispelled, for it is too satisfying for the moment, and too quickly followed by a feeling of hunger, in consequence of being so readily digested. The English housewife of a humble class makes the mistake of dispensing soup in bowlfuls, and frequently in place of more solid food, whereas the French people simply have a ladleful of hot, palatable, but not always nourishing or satisfying soup, which instead of impairing the appetite, serves to prepare the stomach for the reception of more solid food, thereby aiding digestion.

As regards the food of the upper classes, the cookery of France is now almost identical with that of England. For many years French chefs have been employed in the kitchens of large establishments in England, consequently high-class cookery has become almost entirely French in character. This to a very large extent can be said of the best class household cookery, which is termed and known as Bourgeoise Cookery in France.

Food Supply.—The many rivers of France, as well as the seas that lave its shores, yield a plentiful supply of fish, all the varieties known to us being found there, as well as the delicious sardine, which forms