Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine by Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

By Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson

French food is the sort of staple in our figuring out of excellent meals that we fail to remember the injuries of heritage that resulted in its production. Accounting for style brings those "accidents" to the skin, illuminating the magic of French food and the secret at the back of its historic improvement. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson explains how the meals of France grew to become French cuisine.

This momentous culinary trip starts off with Ancien Régime cookbooks and ends with twenty-first-century cooking courses. It takes us from Carême, the "inventor" of contemporary French food within the early 19th century, to most sensible cooks this present day, corresponding to Daniel Boulud and Jacques Pépin. no longer a heritage of French food, Accounting for flavor makes a speciality of the folk, locations, and associations that experience made this food what it truly is at the present time: a privileged automobile for nationwide id, a version of cultural ascendancy, and a pivotal web site the place perform and function intersect. With assets as quite a few because the novels of Balzac and Proust, interviews with modern cooks corresponding to David Bouley and Charlie Trotter, and the movie Babette's dinner party, Ferguson maps the cultural box that buildings culinary affairs in France after which exports its the most important parts. What's extra, well past nutrients, the elaborate connections among delicacies and kingdom, among neighborhood perform and nationwide identification, light up the idea that of tradition itself.

To Brillat-Savarin's well-known dictum—"Animals fill themselves, humans consume, clever humans by myself know the way to eat"—Priscilla Ferguson provides, and Accounting for flavor indicates, how the actually clever additionally understand why they consume the best way they do.

“Parkhurst Ferguson has her nostril within the correct position, and an infectious lust for her topic that makes this trawl during the historical past and cultural importance of French food—from French Revolution to Babette’s dinner party through Balzac’s suppers and Proust’s madeleines—a enjoyable meal of assorted courses.”—Ian Kelly, instances (UK)

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Additional info for Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine

Example text

Plainly, the categories of cuisine are themselves highly heterogeneous. Some refer to the sources or the food served, some to the sites of consumption, others to the occasion, and still others to the producers or consumers. Virtually all of these differences can be traced to the fundamental opposition between cooking (or cookery), with its German roots, and cuisine, with its French flair. The material transformation of food into a culinary product parallels its intellectual mutation into the kind of culinary discourse that we call cuisine.

These many hierarchies remind us that the foodways of any collectivity concern not just behavior and practices but also the values that sustain those practices. Certainly, cuisine cannot exist without food; nor can it survive without words. A more or less coherent repertory of culinary preparations, usually structured by the products at hand, becomes a true cuisine only when its status as a repertory becomes apparent. That is, culinary preparations become a cuisine when, and only when, the preparations are articulated and formalized, and enter the public domain.

That is, culinary preparations become a cuisine when, and only when, the preparations are articulated and formalized, and enter the public domain. Although the preparation of food easily accommodates, even necessitates groups as well as individuals, when it is confined to a specific place—say, the kitchen—the group in question will remain small because its foodways and beliefs are dependent upon personal transmission of techniques and practices. Such dependence on connections between individuals renders the cultural status of any practice highly precarious.

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