Gastronomy drapeau_francais

 « Ce qu’il convient de ne pas faire à table »

Middle Ages

La cuisine au Moyen Age A soup stewing in the hearth all day was people's main food. The medieval diet was full of forbidden items mainly due to religious principles. For example it was forbidden to eat meat on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and the day before a religious festival as well as the 40 days during Lent. Nevertheless banquets were given in noble houses. Thus it was an opportunity for gourmet cuisine and refined presentation to develop. Colours played an important part. For example, with the use of colours, it was even possible to recreate guests' coat of arms. Also the medieval diet was characterized by a strong taste for spices such as cloves, nutmeg, ginger or palongo as well as a mixture of sweet and sour, such as honey and dates with citrus juice and vinegar.

The Renaissance

La cuisine à la Renaissance
This period is marked by a more refined taste. Less variety of spices were used and when used, it was done sparingly. Moreover, flavours were appreciated separately. Italy influenced cooking via culinary books such as 'Opera' produced by Bartolomeo Scappi.

Big birds like swans, peacocks, or whales and seals stopped being used for cooking whilst at the same time beef and mutton got the prevalence instead. New vegetables appeared such as mushrooms, cucumber, pumpkin, artichoke and asparagus. They started to be used at the expense of the usual roots. Sugar production  started and its use increased. Sugar was also deemed to possess medicinal properties.



 17h and 18th centuries 4

Under Louis the 14th, thanks to Vatel,  French Gastronomy emerged and travelled around Europe. Around 1735, Vincent La Chapelle (Peintre en faïence qui a séjourné à Bordeaux chez Hustin de 1713 à 1715,à Rouen de 1716 à 1730 et à Samadet de 1731 à 1735. A été à l'origine de ...) invented a nutritious and light “Nouvelle Cuisine”. His motto was: “Cooking simply and delicately”. Table habits evolved and intake of vegetal food and butcher meat increased. White bread was reserved for the richest and associated with wine, deemed to be nutritious, invigorating and therapeutic. New food came from America such as tomatoes, corn and  potatoes. Keeping food as natural as possible became fashionable, so soft flavours were preferred as well as shorter cooking times. Fruit and sweets were served at the end of a meal. Desserts were born. 


19th century

 La Table, gravure relative au XIe chant du poème de J. Delille 

In the last third of the century, food habits started to change. Breakfast was taken earlier and evening meals were taken later. In order to wait until 7pm or even 8pm for the evening meal, people started to take  high tea. Cooking became more of a trade and fine dining tended to become more intellectual.  Brillat-Savarin's “Physiology of Taste” goes to prove it. Also Antonin Carême set the the basis  for contemporary gastronomy by rationalizing menu arrangements and detailing meticulously recipe processes. More restaurants were created and regional gastronomy appeared for the first time.


Le XXe siècle

La France GourmandeIndustrial and urban development as well as chemistry changed cooking habits. Food was thought to have medicinal properties. As far as diet was concerned,  almanacs, dictionaries,  books on health and hygien started to dictate new behaviours. In 1860 a book was published: “The Art of putting on and losing weight on demand”. This topic was in peoples' minds and stayed there to the  extent  that it started to invade  Western papers.

At a time where artificial cooking was looked upon (hormones-fed chickens, GMO, “the mad cow disease”), natural ingredients and natural cooking  became very important. Traditional, regional and international cooking replaced “Nouvelle Cuisine” and light cooking. Thus cooking became more international and people started to  enjoy exotic food and new flavours  all year round.