Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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ratatouille an interesting example of a dish which achieved international currency during the 20th century, from a standing start as a local dish of the region of Nice, not recorded in print before Heyraud (c.1930).

In the late 18th century and the 19th the name was used in French to indicate a coarse stew. It apparently derived from ratouiller and tatouiller, two expressive forms of the French verb touiller, meaning to stir up. According to Ayto (1993), the word first appeared in English in Cassell’s Dictionary of Cookery (1877), but in the misspelled form ‘ratatouville’. It retained in that work the early French meaning of a meat stew.