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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Cuisine is the French word for kitchen. By the 17th century, the French also took it to mean cookery in general in the sense of good fare or bad fare and then, by extension, a style of cooking: cuisine bourgeoise, cuisine anglaise. This use of the word entered English, noticed the OED, by the beginning of the 18th century. Nowadays, it has entered general conversation as a synonym of cookery.

Food historians try to deploy it more precisely. Cuisine, writes Professor Lucy Long, Director of the Center for Food and Culture at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, is ‘a publicly articulated set of dishes, cooking styles, and aesthetic values’. She draws a distinction between cuisine and ‘the cooking practices of a culture’. The historian Ken Albala (2012) is equally firm, defining it as ‘a set of ingredients, techniques, and finished dishes in a standard repertoire, produced professionally and codified formally in gastronomic literature.’