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Book of the Week — Le Nouveau Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois

Le nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois…
François Massialot (1660-1733)
Paris: La Veuve Prudhomme, 1742
TX719 M375 1742 vols. 1 & 2

This revised edition of a culinary classic includes an additional sixty-eight pages for ragoûts by chef Vincent de la Chapelle (1690?-1745), French master chef to, among others, Phillip Dormer Stanhope, fourth Earl of Chesterfield; William IV, Prince of Orange; and Madame de Pompadour. While in Chesterfield’s employ, Chapelle wrote The Modern Cook (1733), with a French edition (Le cuisiner moderne) following two years later. La Chapelle borrowed some of his recipes from his predecessor François Massialot, who in turn adopted the subtitle Cuisinier moderne in 1737, borrowing it from the title of La Chapelle’s popular work.

Massialot, born in Limoges, served as chef de cuisine to illustrious personages such as Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV, and his son Phillipe II, Duke of Orléans. His Cuisinier roïal et bourgeous was first published anonymously in 1691 and was expanded to two volumes in 1712, then three volumes in 1733.

An innovation in Massialot’s book was the alphabetization of recipes. Innovations in cooking include adding a glass of white wine to fish stock, and meringues (which make their first appearance with this appellation in Massialot’s manual). Massialot is credited with the creation of crème brûlée, in which a sugar topping is melted and burnt (in the 18th century with a red-hot fire poker.)

Massialot was influential in English cooking. His recipes, first translated into English as The Court and the Country Cook in 1702, were used by professional chefs. The work begins with descriptions of lavish multi-course dinners given by Massialot’s employers.

The recipes in this book, intended for nobility, made their way, in some form or another, to public restaurants founded by former cooks of the court after the French Revolution. Massialot and his work contributed to French national pride for good taste in food and in fashion, then and today. Included in his recipes is “Macreuse en ragoût au chocolate” (duck stewed in chocolate) possibly the first known Aztec recipe in a European cookbook (although this claim is unsubstantiated). Alexandre Dumas reproduced the dish in his dictionary of cookery, published in 1872, calling it a “masterpiece.”

This edition is illustrated with nine woodcut plates (four of which are folded) of banquet table place settings. Rare Books copy bound in contemporary mottled calf, with ornate gilt on spine, raised bands, two red morocco labels.

For more on Massialot and his Nouveau Cuisinier see “Massialot: Cooking with Chocolate” on the excellent blog, Cacaosophy: Early Modern Ideas About Chocolate from Christine A. Jones, Professor, World Languages and Cultures, The University of Utah. Because of course we want more chocolate.


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