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All Manner of Rare Receipts

Continental Cooking in English Kitchens

François Pierre de la Varenne. The French cook. London, 1654

Bartolomeo Scappi. Opera di M. Bartolomeo Scappi, cuoco secreto di Papa Pio Quinto. Venice, 1605

When François Pierre de La Varenne's cookbook was published in the 1650s, it transformed both French and English cooking. In England, La Varenne's book helped to bring about a transition from medieval-style recipes to more recognizably modern preparations in which the use of flour-based roûx, or sauces, was particularly important. While the English took up French cooking methods, even anglicizing French terms, they continued traditional practices as well. Roasting meat, beef in particular, was central to English cooking, and the roast became renowned as a symbol of English culture.

"Kickshaw" and "hash" are anglicized words adopted from French cooking in the mid-seventeenth century. From quelquechose (something), kickshaw refers to a puff paste dough filled with berries, marrow, kidney, "or any other thing what you like best" (Woolley). Hash describes a common cooking technique (hacher, to hack or slice) for sliced meats, as well as the resulting dish of meat in a sauce.

  Additional Information

In this illustration (left) of a large kitchen, there are several pieces of cooking equiptment that were basic to a well-provisioned household kitchen in England.


The low wall ovens are topped by clay kettles for simmering and boiling. The hearth is equipt with spits and hanging cranes for large pots. The mortar and pestle in the foreground were essential to any cook preparing sauces, using nuts as thickening agents, or grinding spices for flavor.


The pasta table, however, marks this kitchen as an Italian one.

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