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-   -   An old quote to respond to... (http://www.discusscooking.com/forums/f87/an-old-quote-to-respond-to-27014.html)

bullseye 09-18-2006 10:10 PM

An old quote to respond to...
 
I just bought a copy of The Art of French Cooking (the big 1960's translation by Joseph Faulkner, not the paperback supermarket one). There's a lot to digest, but I wanted to throw out this quote to see what you all might have to say:

“Like everything in life, cooking has had to adapt itself to the caprices of fashion and, above all, to yield to economic necessity. Prosperous times meant an unstinted cooking; times of want, cooking restrictions. But French cooking has always maintained its superiority by adapting itself without failing in quality, and thus has always remained at the top of world gastronomy.”


Bart Winer, ed. Faulkner, Joseph, trans. The Art of French Cooking. Golden Press, NY and Librairie Flammarion, France. 1962.

(Hope this helps with copyright issues. I know this short a quote is OK in print, without specific permission, if it is credited.)

Ishbel 09-19-2006 02:17 AM

It's expressed in the usual french chauvinistic terms.... but I broadly agree with it :smile:

TexanFrench 09-30-2006 10:14 AM

The older members of my family, French cooks transported to America, did what they called "interpreted" recipes--that is, traditional recipes adapted to local ingredients--because the one inviolable rule of cooking is to always use the best and freshest ingredients available.

That's the rule I still follow--and I've discovered that my best cooking successes come when I "interpret" a recipe, rather than follow it exactly.

When I'm with food purists/snobs __, I always tell folks, "This is my version of ____" rather than "This is __," just so they won't start complaining that I've put in something strange!

TexanFrench 09-30-2006 10:16 AM

Sorry, there's a weird spot in my last posting--the cat walked over the keyboard just as I posted the message!

AlexR 09-30-2006 10:32 AM

Ishbel,

I wonder who are the most chauvinistic - the Brits, the Yanks, or the Frogs??? (I'll admit the word comes from a Napoleonic soldier...).

The *best* cuisine?
Ha! The one you like most!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best regards,
Alex R.:w00t2:

buckytom 09-30-2006 10:51 AM

ooh, good word tex-f, inviolable. incapable of being transgressed or dishonored.

the quote essentially says that the frenchies will always be superior because they maintain a high level of quality in their culinary pursuits, no matter the circumstance.

would that be of ingredients, tools, techniques, ... or of their own perception of themselves as gastronomes?
having never been to france, i can't offer an opinion. but i can recognize pomposity when i see it, deserved or not.

ironchef 09-30-2006 01:12 PM

That quote was taken well before fusion cuisine came into focus. Take almost any top Chef or restaurant in the world, and their menu will incorporate some sort of fusion in both ingredients and technique. Whether it be Hubert Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, Hubert Keller at the French Laundry, Rob Feenie at Lumiere, Joel Robuchon at any of his restaurants, etc., etc. , the menus will all have a lot of fusion. The majority of the time, the techniques being used will still be 80% French but the ingredients and dishes will be some sort of combination of Regional + French/Mediterranean + Asian.

Back then, French cooking was French cooking. You wouldn't find such things like Sea Urchin, Chorizo, Yuca, etc. on any French restaurant's menu or in any French cookbook. Now, you go to a restaurant who's basic premise is French, and you'll find a Chorizo-crusted Baked Langouste with a Sea Urchin Foam la Creme and Yuca Mousseline.

So in effect, it's basically what BT summarized in that it's not strictly about just the ingredients or the perceptions, but it's also about the techniques, and I think that is 80% of what's really important. I myself use predominantly French techniques especially with my sauces. I would say 80-90% of my sauces are French based, or start with a French technique be it a beurre blanc, demi glace, marchand di vin, etc. So, even though I use a lot of other ingredients from Asian, Italian, and Spanish cuisine, I would agree that French technique is superior to other cuisines that require the actual cooking of food. For dishes that require the food to be served raw, IMO nothing beats Japanese techniques and styles.

shpj4 09-30-2006 03:24 PM

The Art Of French Cooking
 
The quote is good and I tend to go along with some of it but not all of it. Thanks for sharing.

Ishbel 09-30-2006 04:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AlexR
Ishbel,

I wonder who are the most chauvinistic - the Brits, the Yanks, or the Frogs??? (I'll admit the word comes from a Napoleonic soldier...).

The *best* cuisine?
Ha! The one you like most!!!!!!!!!!!!

Best regards,
Alex R.:w00t2:



Oh, I think the French have this one WON, hands down.:cool:

bullseye 09-30-2006 05:06 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TexanFrench
The older members of my family, French cooks transported to America, did what they called "interpreted" recipes--that is, traditional recipes adapted to local ingredients--because the one inviolable rule of cooking is to always use the best and freshest ingredients available.

That's the rule I still follow--and I've discovered that my best cooking successes come when I "interpret" a recipe, rather than follow it exactly.

When I'm with food purists/snobs __, I always tell folks, "This is my version of ____" rather than "This is __," just so they won't start complaining that I've put in something strange!

I think that is much of what is being said here. The French have also, I think, done more to codify cooking (western, at least), than any other culture. As important as the ingredients/recipe may have been at the time, it is the method that has endured, as well as, as you say TexanFrench, the insistence on the freshest and best of ingredients available.

Additionally, as Ironchef has pointed out, much of the fusion cuisine we see in the west is the French method expanded to include flavours and ingredients that might have been foreign to, say, Escoffier, but in the shrinking world of the the twenty-first century are becoming more available and familiar.

That being said, I couldn't help being struck by the pompousness, or even arrogance, of the quote. I wonder if there are other culinary traditions, in other parts of the world, that are a repository of culinary learning in a similar way and are similarly entitled to boast? Most cultures that come to mind seem, based on my limited knowledge, to be more a passing on of tradition as opposed to the codification the French credit themselves with. Perhaps the Chinese? Japanese?


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