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From Escoffier to Today

Discussion in 'Food and Drink' started by Wagner the Wehrwolf, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    I have had the Cracknell and Kaufmann translation of Escoffier's Modern Cookery for some time now and am finally getting in the mood to work through some of his codified recipes.

    I'm noticing though that his recipes are so much more involved and complicated to what we see today. For example Brown Stock has about twice as many ingredients as what I learned in school and takes two days to make. Sauce Espagnole, same. Way more complicated than I think anyone does today.

    So what or why the changes in technique and/or ingredients? Is it changes in taste? Changes in economics (chef can't afford two days to make a stock)? Were his procedures just overly complicated and today's simplified methods just as good or better? Or have we lost something?

    Would love to hear thoughts?

    I'm going to try to do some of these by the book in smaller batches and see how they come out, after all it would be like trying the original standard.
  2. John Fout

    John Fout Founding Member

    not many people care about a crystal clear consomme. I mean I care but customers don't really know what a consomme is. We make time to make our own stocks, remoulalge them use that for the base of the next batch. For soup du jours and things I'm throwing together quick I wish I had Minors. I have to add so much salt to things to get it right. Maybe i've just used Minors for too long.

    I've made a lot of specials based on recipes from Modern Cookery. Some of the ingredient amounts can be fun. "Size of a cork" etc. It serves as a guideline and a decent flavor profile as to what it should be. There are also some ingredients you can really only get in Europe but once again you can get creative and find something to work.
  3. Wagner the Wehrwolf

    Wagner the Wehrwolf Founding Member

    Yeah, I was leaning toward economics being the major driving force but was curious if other factors were nearly as large.
  4. John -

    I think there at least some of us who still care. I like to serve pasta 'en brodo' during cooler months and work tirelessly to make a clear consomme using raft method.


    For several years we recreated the 'Babette's Feast' for friends. In the classic version the quail calls for Sauce Perigourdine, but there is a late food and wine writer named Daniel Rogov who insisted the quail was served in a choid froid, and he had published what was literally a three day process to produce the sauce.

    James Peterson has an excellent book simply titled 'Sauces' which is pretty encyclopedic. He details both classic and more modern versions of most sauces.
  5. MotoMike

    MotoMike Founding Member

    I don't know what all these terms are, but I am reading with interest. Now off to google.:D
  6. bieniek

    bieniek Founding Member

    So, the only changes in the chefs techniques are for worse. In any way I can think of actually. Knife skills? Knife care? Cleanliness? Patience? Humbleness? Where is that all.
    The answer is: In the small percentage of the really high end places. They cultivate the rigors and discipline but who else really does?

    Taste? Here the changes are also for worse. IMHO in understanding of what taste is. Too much cheap frozen foods, ready made meals make people saying they dont like celeriac soup without even knowing how it tastes.

    Economics? Hell yeah. Ask yourself why most beef nowadays is sold under vacuum? I mean seriously, where are the counters and the raw meat at your local grocer?
    We get so into Haccps and other shite invented for cosmic ships that we are loosing the sense quality which means care, not rules, or safe packaging

    Todays methods? Haha, well the whole message[apart from the kitchen chemistry] of modernist cuisine - and Ive read it all , Is that apart from the knife, all other oldschool techniques are just rubbish. Its better to buy ten millions of dollars worth of kit than just learn.

    Peoples mouths are full of the news funny stuff is the Nico Ladenis in his book from like 100 thousand years in the past mentions the sous vide and how Brothers Roux wanted to start factory and how Joel Robuchon used it in the TGV to cook some high quality meal, when was it? 1870 ?:D

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