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These three books by Francois Pierre de la Varenne (c. 1615-1678), who was chef to the Marquis d'Uxelles, are the most important French cookery books of the seventeenth century. It was the first French cookery book of any substance since Le Viandier almost 300 years before, and it ran to thirty editions in 75 years. The reason for its success was simply that it was the first book to record and embody the immense advances that French cooking had made, largely under the influence of Italy and the Renaissance, since the fifteenth century. Some characteristics of medieval cookery are still visible, but many have disappeared. New World ingredients make their entrance. A surprising number of recipes for dishes still made in modern times (omelettes, beignets, even pumpkin pie) are given. The watershed from medieval to modern times is being crossed under our eyes in La Varenne's pages. So important was this book that English cooks of the time immediately bought copies and one (anonymous) even translated it into English in the middle of the Puritan rule of Oliver Cromwell. This translation, as is the original, is extremely difficult to understand: there are difficult words, omissions, mistranslations, and other opacities. Terence Scully has solved all modern readers' problems by undertaking a modern translation with detailed commentary of the original French texts. His work takes cognisance of the early English translation, as well as not ignoring contemporary works available to those early cooks for purposes of comparison and contrast. Even French people will want to buy it for what he tells us of the workings of the French kitchen in the seventeenth century.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781903018415
ISBN-10: 1903018412
Format: Hardback
(246mm x 174mm x 51mm)
Pages: 655
Imprint: Prospect Books
Publisher: Prospect Books
Publish Date: 22-Feb-2006
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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Author Biography - Francois Pierre de la Varenne

Terence Scully is Emeritus Professor of French at the Wilfrid Laurier University, Ontario. He specialises in medieval French language and literature, and is the author of The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages, and has translated Le Vivendier, Le Viandier, and the treatise on cookery by Chiquart. He is, too, the author of many articles and other writings on French philology.