La Varenne, François Pierre de

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About
(c.1615–78)

La Varenne was the founder of French classical cooking. Ever since it appeared in 1651, critics have both acclaimed and belittled his book Le Cuisinier françois, but no one has questioned its importance. It was the first French cookbook of any substance since Le Viandier almost 300 years before; and it ran to 30 editions in 75 years. The reason for its success was simple; it was the first book to record and embody the immense advances which French cooking had made, largely under the influence of Italy and the Renaissance, since the 15th century. Its impact outside France was also profound. The first English translation was published in 1653 and there were German and Italian works that purported to be translations (so great was his reputation) soon afterwards.