Sauce Terminology

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Another important development during the Middle Ages was the elaboration of a new vocabulary for sauces and other flavorful fluids, and a more systematic approach to them. The Roman term ius was replaced by derivatives of the Latin salsus, meaning “salted”: sauce in France, salsa in Italy and Spain. In French, jus came to mean meat juices; bouillon was a stock produced by simmering meat in water; coulis was a thickened meat preparation that gave flavor and body to sauces, to potages—substantial soups— and other prepared dishes. The French soupe was the equivalent of the English sop, a flavorful liquid imbuing a piece or pieces of bread. A number of manuscripts divide their recipes into categories: there are uncooked sauces, cooked sauces, sauces in which to cook meat, and others with which to serve meats, thin and thick potages, and so on. And the English word gravy appears, derived apparently but mysteriously from the French grané. The latter, whose name derives from the Latin granatus, “made with grains, grainy,” was a kind of stew made with meat and meat juices, and not a separate mixture of spices and liquid.