Harlan's Reviews > A Revolution in Taste: The Rise of French Cuisine, 1650-1800

A Revolution in Taste by Susan Pinkard
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's review
Feb 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: cookbooks
Read in April, 2011

An enlightening (hah!) and comprehensive history of how French cuisine changed radically from a sweet-and-sour melange of flavors, ala modern Indian or Mexican cuisine, to dishes that focus on the actual flavor of actual primary ingredients, supported by sauces, as we know today. I was struck by the cyclic nature of culinary change, as cooks develop techniques to build ever-more-elaborate dishes, trading off with counter-acting forces pushing for simplicity, locality, and subtlety. Those forces can be seen more recently in the rise of nouveau cuisine in the 1970s, a term recycled from a similar (if more drastic) change during the time period reviewed in this book. And they can also be seen in the tension between the current two wings of the food movement, the Modernist wing and the Locavore/Slow Food wing. [return][return]Pinkard writes history very well, and manages to cover her remarkably intensive research into several hundred years of French names, cookbooks, and techniques in a comprehensible manner, while successfully stepping back from time to time for context and to describe larger trends.

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