GRAVIES, SAUCES AND FORCEMEATS.CHAPTER IX.
General observations on Gravies and Sauces, with directions in regard to the foundation or standard Sauces, &c.
Sauces and Gravies.—Until the end of the eighteenth century cookery was a neglected art in England, and sauces were practically unknown. A celebrated Frenchman who lived in that age humorously described us as "a nation with one sauce." History has not recorded the name of that particular sauce; but it could not have been the ancient sauce of the Romans, which tradition has handed down to us under the name of "Garum." This sauce is made from anchovy brine, and is largely used by the Turks in the preparation of their national dish, "Pilau," but the presence of the strong flavour of anchovy, however desirable in itself, would prevent its use in many dishes. Possibly "melted butter" filled the double office of "sweet" and "savoury"; and it would be difficult in the present day to find any individual who passes muster as a plain cook, whose knowledge of sauces is as restricted as that of the nation a hundred years ago. The unit must now be multiplied by something like 650 to arrive at an approximate estimate of the sauces and gravies in use at the present day.
Importance of Sauces.—Brillat-Savarin, speaking of this branch of cookery, says: "One can learn to cook, and one can be taught to roast, but a good sauce-maker is a genius born, not made." Alexis Soyer, referring to this subject, writes: "Sauces are to cookery what grammar is to language"—a most apt comparison, for grammars have been adapted in a hundred different ways to suit the genius of the languages they dominate. And so with sauces; they form an essential part of cookery, yet the innumerable variations of each class have to be skilfully adapted to the dishes with which they are amalgamated or served, in order to give some necessary flavouring or produce some desired effect. Every cook should endeavour to attain proficiency in this branch of cookery, a task by no means so difficult as the number of sauces would lead us to suppose, for, if the few which have for their base either oil, wine or fruit, are excluded, the remainder are simply variations of the two foundation sauces, white and brown.