Haute Cuisine (1829)

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Tue Feb 4 07:04:48 UTC 2003

   OED and Merriam-Webster have 1926 or 1928 for "haute cuisine."  Way off...I'll go a little long with the second cite because I think it's good reading.  The "haute cuisine" is in the paragraph that begins "Verry."

   May 1829, SOUTHERN REVIEW (American Periodical Series online, from a review of THE FRENCH COOK by Louis Eustache Ude), pg. 416 start:
   Truffles are one of the greatest blessings with which Providence, in its infinite goodness, has vouchsafed to bless the generation of Gourmands.  This _tubercle_, which cannot be classed either with vegetables, (legumes) or with fruits, is one of the most _excipiens_ or the _haute cuisine_, by the incomparable flavour which it communicates to the vegetable and animal productions with which it is united.

ITEM #5297
January, 1844
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Volume XXVIII Page 16

THE English are before all nations in bull-dogs; perhaps also in morals; but for the art of dressing themselves and their dinners the first honours are due by general acknowledgment to the French. The French are therefore entitled to our first and most serious consideration.


The Revolution having broken up the French clerical nobility, cookery was brought out from the cloisters, and made to breathe the free and ventilated air of common life, and talents no longer engrossed by the few, were forced into the service of the community. A taste was spread abroad, and a proper sense of gastronomy impressed upon the public mind. Eating-houses, or restaurans, and cafes multiplied, and skill was brought out by competition to the highest degree of cultivation and development. The number of such houses now in Paris alone, exceeds six thousand. But the shortest way to give value to a profession is to bestow honour and reward upon those who administer its duties, and to this policy, nowhere so well understood as in Paris, the French kitchen chiefly owes its celebrity. I begin therefore with a brief notice of some of its most distinguished artists.

I must premise, however, that in fine arts generally, and eating in particular, America lags behind the civilization of Europe, a deficiency the more to be deplored that ingenious foreigners who visit us, do not fail to infer from it a low state of morals and intellect. How; indeed, entertain a favourable opinion of a nation which gives us bad dinners! I must observe, too, that women are the natural pioneers in this and other matters of taste, and that their special province is to take care their country be not justly at least subjected to these injurious imputations. Men, it is true, are accounted the best cooks, and the kitchen, like the grammar, prefers the masculine to the feminine gender; but this argues no incapacity in the sex, as I shall show hereafter, but a mere physical inferiority. The best culinary critics and natural legislators in this department, are indisputably women. And farther, it is scarcely possible to impress the world with an idea of one's gentility without a studied knowledge of this science, its very language having become a part of the vocabulary of polite conversation. All over Europe it is ranked with the liberal sciences, and has its apparatus, its technology like the rest. Indeed, a very sensible French writer, president of the court of Cassation, has declared gastronomy to be of greater use and dignity than astronomy; "for," says he, "we have stars enough, and we can never have enough of dishes." Nor is it to be looked at as a mere accomplishment to him or her who visits Paris, but a dire necessity. How often, alas, have I seen a poor countryman seated in despair at a French table, scratching his head over its crabbed catalogue of hard names, as a wrecked voyager who looks from his plank upon the desolate sea for some signs of safety - upon its fifty soups, its consomme; pure, a la julien; its casserolle, grenouilles, poulets en blanquets, &c. Nothing can he see, for the life of him, in all this, but castor oil, green owls, and chickens in blankets.

Some writers do indeed pretend that republicanism is of a gross nature, and opposed to any high degree of polish in this and the other arts. But it is sheer assertion without a shadow of evidence. Surely, the Roman who dined at Lucullus's, with Tully and Pompeius Magnus, in the "Hall of Apollo;" and surely the Athenian, who passed his morning at an oration of Pericles in the senate, who strolled after dinner with Phidias to the Pantheon, who went to the new piece of Sophocles at night, and to complete his day supped with Aspasia, was not greatly to be pitied or contemned by the most flagrant gourmands of Crockford's or Tortoni's. These are but foreign and monarchical prejudices, which will wear away under the slow but sure influence of time and the ladies. Indeed, if I am not greatly mistaken, there is a revolution in eating silently going on in this country at this very time. Many persons in our large cities begin already to show taste in culinary inquiries, and a proper appreciation of the dignity of the subject; and, in some instances, a degree of the enthusiasm which always accompanies and intimates genius, and which leaves the question about capacity for the higher attainments indisputable. I know a lady of this city - a Quaker lady - who never speaks of terrapins without placing her hand upon her heart. I shall now proceed, without any apology for selecting the "Lady's Book" as a proper medium, to offer some remarks upon this interesting subject.

The classical school has at its head the name of Beauvilhiers, of the Rue Richelieu, No. 20. He was in great vogue at the end of the imperial government, and in 1814, 15, shared with Verry the favour of "our friends the enemy," as he used to call the allies. He left a standard work, in one vol. 8vo, on the Art de Cuisine, and closed his illustrious career the same year as Napoleon, and his monument rivals the heroes of Wagram and Rivoli, at Pere la Chaise. He died, too, of a good old age, in the course of nature; while the tap of the drum was thy death larum, Prince of Moscow.

At the head of the romantic school, and ahead at no moderate distance, is Jean de Careme, whose works are in the hands of every one, and whose name is identified with the great personages of his age. His descent is from the famous Chef of Leo X., and is called Jean de Careme, (Jack of Lent,) in honour of a soupe maigre he invented for his holiness during the abstemious season. He began his studies with a regular course of roasting, under celebrated professors, served his time to sauces under Richaut, of the House of the Prince de Conde, and finished his studies with Robert the elder, author of "Elegance Moderne," a person remarkable not only for his great invention, but for a bad memory, as you may see in his epitaph -

Qui des l'age le plus tendre,
Inventa la soupe Robert;
Mais jamais il ne peut apprendre
Ni son credo ni son Pater.

After refusing nearly all the sovereigns of Europe, he was prevailed upon to become chef to George IV. at 1600 guineas per annum. But at Carlton House he was before the age, and quit after a few months, indignant at wasting his time upon a nation so imperfectly able to appreciate his services. On his return he accepted an appointment from the Baron Rothschild, and remained with "the Jew," dining the best men of a glorious age, and acquiring new laurels till the close of life, with the conscious pride of having consecrated his entire mind to the advantage and honour of his native country. - Drop a tear, gentle reader, if thou hast ever tasted a soupe maigre a la Pope Pie-sept, or Potage a la Rothschild - a tear upon the memory of Jack of Lent!

Verry, of the Palais Royal, also is of this school, and belongs to the << haute cuisine>> . He feasted the allied sovereigns, and has a monument at Pere La Chaise, on which you will read this simple inscription,

"His life was devoted to the useful arts."

This is a name also to be revered wherever eating is held in proper veneration - a veritable and authentic artist, seeking fame by no diplomatic trick, no ruse de cuisine, but honestly and instinctively obeying the impulses of his splendid abilities. He employed his mornings and heat of imagination in composing - pouring out a vast number of dishes, as Virgil used to do verses of the AEneid, and giving his afternoons, when fancy was cool and judgment predominated, to revisal, correction, and experiment. A person came in once of a morning inconsiderately to consult him, and addressing the waiter, "Pas visible, Monsieur," replied the garcgon, with an air significative of his sense of the impropriety, "Il compose;" - and the gentleman with an apologetic bow retired.

I omit many others of nearly equal dignity, for want of space. There is one, however, of the old school, who, like Homer or Hesiod, announced from afar the future glory of his country, whom I cannot pass altogether in silence - Vatel. While in Paris, I went out to Chantilli - the Utica of the gourmands - not, as you may conceive, to see the races, or the stables of the great Conde, that cost thirty millions, or his magnifique maison de Plaisance, which opened its folding doors to a thousand guests of a night, but . . . I stood in the very spot in which the illustrious Martyr fell upon his sword - the very spot in which he screamed in glorious agony - "Quoi le marais n'arrive pas encore!" and died. Poor fellow! scarce had they drawn the fatal knife from his throat when the codfish arrived. I would give more of this tragical history, but it is told in its beautiful details by Madame de Sevigne, to whom the reader is respectfully referred . . . I must hasten to other branches of my subject.

Houses of established notoriety in Paris, are quite numerous, beginning, most of them, upon the fame of a single dish, and many new ones are struggling into notice by some specific excellence. So ingenious persons often practise one of the virtues, and thereby get up a reputation for all the others. For ices you go to Tortoni's, of course; for a vol-au-vent, to the Provincial Brothers; for a delicious salmi, to the Cafe de Paris; to Verry's for truffles, and to the Rocher Cancale for turbots, frogs, and its exquisite wines. The great repute of this house (the Rocher) was originally founded upon oysters. It first overcame the prejudice against those months which are undistinguished by the letter r, serving its oysters equally delicious in all the months of the year. It gave a dinner in 1819, which was the topic of general conversation for one month - about two weeks more than is given in Paris to a revolution. The bill is published for the eye of the curious in the Almanach des Gourmands. Frogs having been made to talk by AEsop, and looking so very like little babies, when-swimming in their ponds, many dilettanti, especially ladies, feel an aversion to eating them; and the French, being the first of the moderns to introduce them generally upon the table, have infixed thereby a stigma indelibly upon the French name, their brachtrachtonymical designation being now as significative as the "John Bull" of a neighbouring kingdom. An Englishman being compelled lately to go to Paris on business, and holding frogs in abhorrence, especially French frogs, carried his provisions with him. I take the occasion to state that this was an idle apprehension, and that Paris not only has other provisions now, but that this quadruped is even less common, perhaps, in the French than the English kitchen. But, indeed, to the refined and ingenious it is in good esteem, always - especially to professors, doctors, savans, and diplomatists, the classes most addicted to gourmandize in all countries. These do not forget that the same immortal
bard who sang of heroes and the gods, sang also of bullfrogs.

ITEM #874
February, 1867
Godey's Lady's Book
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Vol LXXIV Page 199
THE following anecdote must be true (says a Paris correspondent), for I have not only heard it, but seen it in print. At a dinner lately given by the directors of a French railway, a dish of côteletts à la soubise was served. Soubise, you know, is << haute cuisine>>  for
onion-sauce. The sauce was so strong that it brought tears into the eyes of several of the guests.

     "The Hon. Tookooloto Jabinkoker, Delegate from the Kodiak District of the former
Russian Possessions, arrived yesterday from New Archangel. He dined at Delmonico's, and
ordered the repast in the haute cuisine of Kodiak: train oil for two; tallow candles for one;
whale blubber for one (but substituted raw pork, as the other was not to be had); asked for
a seal's fin, but took India-rubber, . . .

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