Kate Heyhoe

Kate's Global Kitchen

A Cozy Night with Larousse:
Good Reading, Fine Eating

by Kate Heyhoe


If a restaurant critic today were to describe a dish as "gallimaufry," would it be a compliment or an insult? What if the review was written some five decades ago? Gallimaufry may not be in the average food lover's lexicon, but for those looking to expand and reinforce their culinary horizons, they can find this word along with several lifetimes of stimuli in one newly revised reference: Larousse Gastronomique.

Larousse Gastronomique First published in 1938, the Larousse Gastronomique has become the resource chefs and food lovers turn to for classic continental recipes, food and chef histories, terms, techniques and essential ingredient information. Over the years, it's been revised several times, and the most recent edition brings it into the modern world, with the inclusion of international entries, such as "biriani," and new recipes that reflect contemporary cooking.

Under the direction of the esteemed French chef Joël Robichon, scores of researchers, writers, photographers and others have contributed to the book's revisions, deletions and additions. Horsemeat recipes are out; global recipes are in, including ones for beansprout salad, chicken and quince tagine, and Caribbean salt cod fritters known as acras.

If you have tremendous culinary passion or just eons of free time on your hands, you can read all 1,350 pages cover to cover. Or, for a brief sample of the contents, I've included below a small selection of new entries found in Chapters A, B, and C, along with recipes for Roast Duck with Maple Syrup and Spiced Gingerbread Fruit Charlotte.

Back to "gallimaufry"... Paraphrasing Larousse Gastronomique, here's what I discovered: In the 17th century, the word took on the pejorative meaning it has today—a badly prepared and unappetizing dish. But prior to that, in the Middle Ages, it was the feast dish of the people, consisting of finely cooked meat (usually chicken or mutton), fried in lard or goose fat, mixed with finely chopped onions and then moistened with wine and verjuice sauce spiced with ginger. Its name comes from "galer," to enjoy oneself, and "mafrer," to eat ravenously. Odd, isn't it, that something that used to be so tempting as to cause "ravenous eating" should now describe the unappetizing? Ah well, c'est la vie!


The ABC's of Larousse Gastronomique

A Sampling of the New Information
Found in the "A", "B" and "C" Chapters

With 400 new entries (30 percent of the book) it is impossible to include here examples of all the kinds of fascinating and helpful information in Larousse Gastronomique. Larousse has always been the premier source for information about classic French cuisine. But consider the following tidbits about the rest of the world, from the first three chapters, for an idea of what's on the menu for the other 23.

AUSLESE: A category of German or Austrian wines made with late-harvested grapes, which in the best years are affected by noble rot. Depending on the concentration of sugar, these wines may be dry (trocken) or sweeter (halbtrocken, süss).

AVGOLEMONO: A simple Greek sauce, or soup, of egg yolks and fresh lemon juice beaten together, with a suitable hot liquid then added. Once made, it must be placed in a bain marie, or it will curdle.

AYRAN:Turkish yogurt drink, made by diluting yogurt with water and ice. The drink may be flavoured with mint. Refreshing yogurt drinks are prepared thoughout the Balkan countries and the Middle East. Airan, eyran, ajran or dhalle are all names for similar drinks. Lassi is the Indian version.

AYU: Japanese river fish, known as sweetfish in English. The ayu is caught from June through to the end of summer, and it is considered a delicacy for its excellent, slightly sweet, flavour.

AZUKI BEAN: Also known as aduki bean. A tiny, dull-red bean very squat in shape and sweetish in flavour. A native of Japan, India and South East Asia and keeps for many years. After soy, it is the most-used bean in Japanese cookery, mixed with rice, or red bean paste and used in many desserts and cakes, both as an ingredient in the main mixture and as a filling make into a sweetened paste. In Japanese tradition, eating azuki beans was thought to bring good luck.

BABACO: A fruit related to the papaya, originating in the highlands of Ecuador, it is grown in temperate climates in New Zealand, Britain and America. Also known as chamburo�.the babaco is juicy but low in sugar, so not especially sweet and it can be used in the same way as cucumber in salads and savoury dishes as well as in sweet dishes when sweetened.

BAGNA CAUDA: A hot dip (literally a 'hot bath'), this specialty of Piedmont in northern Italy is a festival dish, dating back to the 16th century. The purée is made from olive oil with a little butter, pounded garlic and anchovy fillets, heated for some minutes, then served over a lamp, like a fondue....

BRODETTO: An Italian soup containing a large assortment of fish and shellfish. It is possibly the Mediterranean's oldest fish soup, and certainly older than bouillabaisse, with which it shares a large number of ingredients. There are many regional variations. The Venetian version contains no tomato, the one made in the Mreches contains saffron, while in the Abruzzi the latter is replaced by chilli.

BUCHTELN: A plum dessert, much appreciated in Austria. Buchteln consists of squares of yeast dough, folded over plum jam, white cheese or chopped nuts, left to rise in the warm, then baked and served hot with prune jam or custard.

BUTIFARRA: A black pudding (blood sausage) of eastern Spain (Catalonia and the Levante), made of pig's blood and pieces of fat, sometimes with meat�. Butifarras are sliced and fried, then added casseroles. Boutifar is the North African version, containing blood, fat and meat, about 8-10 cm (3-1/4 in) in diameter, and is eaten cold. White buifrras (see boudin blanc), often made with lean pork and stuffed into tripe skins, are popular in Catalonia and the Balearic islands.

CAPITAINE: is related to the sea bass, sometimes called grand pourceau ('big swine'), living off the coast of West Africa, where it enters the estuaries and swims up the rivers. It has a pinky-white flesh with a very delicate flavour which it preserves well and does not lose in cooking. It may be steamed, grilled (broiled) on one side like salmon, cooked en papillote or chopped up with tartare sauce, herbs and lemon. In Senegal, it often forms part of tie bou diene. Included is a recipe of Capitaine in Banana Leaves.

CHORBA: A thick Arabic soup, made from pieces of lamb's tail and lamb cutlets sautéed in oil with onions and tomatoes, to which courgettes (zucchini), garlic, thyme and bay leaves are added. This is covered with water, finished off with whole haricot (navy) beans or chickpeas, and seasoned with red pepper, black pepper and saffron. Before the soup is served, macaroni or vermicelli and dried fruit are added. Similar dishes are found in the cooking of the Balkans, with the Yugoslav corba and the Romanian or Bulgarian ciorba.

CLARENCE: Name of various fish and shellfish dishes whose only common feature is a curry-flavoured Mornay or Newburg sauce�. The word also describes a bombe of pineapple ice cream filled with a violet bombe mixture.

CUCHAULE: A Swiss bread originating from Fribourg, prepared with flour (superfine white) flour, butter and milk, lightly sweetened and with saffron. The top is marked with a chequer pattern and gilded with egg. Cuchaule is spread with butter and Bénichon mustard and eaten for breakfast or with white wine drunk as an apertif.


Larousse Gastronomique

About the Book


Roast Duck with Maple Syrup
Spiced Gingerbread Fruit Charlotte


Kate's Global Kitchen for January 2002:
01/04/02     Food Forward: Predictions and Observations for 2002
01/11/02     A Cozy Night with Larousse: Good Reading, Fine Eating
01/18/02     Paella in a Pot
01/25/02     One Potato—and Many Potatoes More


Copyright © 2002, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.


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