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La Varenne, Pierre François de

Writer of "Le Cuisine Françoise" in 1651. This book had a dramatic effect on the standard of French cuisine for the upper classes, and captured the imagination of the Court. He also helped popularise truffles (by suggesting they should be cooked like mushrooms).

Although previously given their true worth in Italy and the Middle East, they had been more or less despised in France - generally being pickled in vinegar, soaked in hot water and served with butter. Truffles became so popular, that they trebled in price!

He had charge of the kitchens of the Marquis d"Uxelles, who he inadvertently immortalised in his invention of mushroom "duxelles".

He also started the practice of serving vegetables as a course in their own right, drastically cut down on the use of spices (which had been used partially to conceal less than fresh produce), and recommended simple sauces based on meat juices and sharpened with vinegar, lemon juice or verjus.

See also "Marin, François"; "Medici; Catherine de"; "Truffles" and "Vertjus/Verjuice".

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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