By Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson
French food is this type of staple in our knowing of excellent nutrition that we put out of your mind the injuries of historical past that ended in its production. Accounting for flavor brings those "accidents" to the outside, illuminating the magic of French delicacies and the secret at the back of its ancient improvement. Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson explains how the nutrition of France turned 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 delicacies within the early 19th century, to most sensible cooks this day, akin to Daniel Boulud and Jacques Pépin. now not a historical past of French delicacies, Accounting for flavor specializes in the folk, locations, and associations that experience made this food what it really is this present day: a privileged motor vehicle for nationwide identification, a version of cultural ascendancy, and a pivotal website the place perform and function intersect. With assets as a variety of because the novels of Balzac and Proust, interviews with modern cooks akin to David Bouley and Charlie Trotter, and the movie Babette's ceremonial dinner, Ferguson maps the cultural box that constructions culinary affairs in France after which exports its an important constituents. What's extra, well past foodstuff, the complicated connections among delicacies and kingdom, among neighborhood perform and nationwide identification, light up the idea that of tradition itself.
To Brillat-Savarin's recognized dictum—"Animals fill themselves, humans devour, clever humans on my own know the way to eat"—Priscilla Ferguson provides, and Accounting for flavor exhibits, how the actually clever additionally recognize 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 in the course of the historical past and cultural value of French food—from French Revolution to Babette’s banquet through Balzac’s suppers and Proust’s madeleines—a pleasurable meal of assorted courses.”—Ian Kelly, occasions (UK)
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Additional resources for Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French Cuisine
Modern cuisines counter these traditions even as they draw upon them. Their modernity lies, ﬁrst of all, in simple chronology: historically, they come after traditional cuisines. For that matter, modern cuisines suppose traditional cuisines as a base both from and against which to work. This logic of succession does not entail a unilinear development. The elaborately prepared and highly reﬁned cuisine of Sung China of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries proves every bit as modern as the haute cuisine that emerged in seventeenthor nineteenth-century France.
As a result, the relations between the particular and the general in France tend to be framed as a contest between the idiosyncratic and the universal, with the universal taken as national and the national taken as universal. Ongoing culinary dialogues and disputes offer no exception to the rule. It has long been a commonplace of French culinary discourse that France has “always” been the favored land of ﬁne food with eaters as knowledgeable as they are enthusiastic. Savoir-manger subsists as a highly prized branch of 34 C U L I N A RY C O N F I G U R AT I O N S savoir-faire, a supposedly indigenous ﬂair whenever food comes into question.
II. French Cuisines The Physiology of Taste and French Exceptionalism Nowhere is culinary self-consciousness more ﬁnely tuned than in France. There may be cultures of equally intense culinary commitment—China comes to mind—but for the West and for reasons that I shall explain, France long supplied the standard against which other modern cuisines have been measured. A key element sustaining this acute consciousness of the culinary self has to do with the stories the French tell about food. Of the stories that every culture tells about itself, some achieve emblematic status, told and re- 30 C U L I N A RY C O N F I G U R AT I O N S told from one generation to the next because they are felt to say something fundamental about that culture and what it is all about.