The Flowering of French Sauces

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Marin called his collection of bouillons, potages, jus, consommés, restaurants (“restoring” soups), coulis, and sauces “the foundation of cooking,” and said that by adopting a systematic approach to them, even a bourgeois family with limited resources would be “able to imagine an infinity of sauces and different stews.” French cookbooks soon began to include dozens of different soups and sauces, and several of the classic sauces were soon developed and named. Among these were alternatives to the meat-juice preparations, including two egg-emulsified sauces, hollandaise and mayonnaise, and the economical béchamel, the basic, neutral white sauce of milk, butter, and flour. But the great majority of sauces were made from meat, and meat juices were the underlying, unifying element in French cooking.