Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Man Cook.

I tried, last week, after giving you the (very tongue in cheek)  Twelve Golden Rules for Women Cooks, to find a similar set of regulations for the male of the species – fully expecting them to be the same of course. Sadly, I have been unable to find such a thing, but I do believe I now understand the lack. Advice in The Complete Servant: being a practical guide to the peculiar duties and business of all descriptions of servants (1825) has led me to appreciate the much more difficult job of the Man Cook. His situation is one of far greater labour and fatigue than that of the Female Cook, because of his greater skill and responsibility. He is, in other words, The Boss, and hence is well beyond the range of any rules, anywhere, any time.

The man Cook, now become a requisite member in the establishment of a man of fashion, is in all respects the same as that of a female Cook. He is generally a foreigner, or if an Englishman, possesses a peculiar tact in manufacturing many fashionable foreign delicacies, or of introducing certain seasonings and flavours in his dishes, which render them more inviting to the palate of his employer, than those produced by the simply healthful modes of modern English Cooks.
The man Cook has the entire superintendence of the kitchen, while his several female assistants are employed in roasting, boiling, and all the ordinary manual operations of the kitchen. His attention is chiefly directed to the stew-pan, in the manufacture of stews, fricassees, fricandeaux, &c. At the same time, his situation is one of great labour and fatigue, which, with the superior skill requisite for excellence in his art, procures him a liberal salary, frequently twice or thrice the sum given to the most experienced female English Cook.
As the scientific preparations of the man cook would themselves fill a large volume, and are not generally useful in English families, it is not deemed necessary to give place to them in this work; but the following useful receipts having, inadvertently, been omitted under the head Cook, they are inserted in this place rather than omitted altogether.
As the art of Cookery, or gourmanderie is reduced to a regular science in France, where an egg may be cooked half a hundred ways, so those who can afford large families of servants, and give frequent entertainments, consider a man-cook as economical, because he produces an inexhaustible variety without any waste of materials, and that elegance and piquancy of flavours which are necessary to stimulate the appetites of the luxurious. In France, all culinary business is conducted by men, and there are, at least, as many men cooks as considerable kitchens; but in England, men cooks are kept only in about 3 or 400 great and wealthy families, and in about 40 or 50 London hotels. But it is usual in smaller establishments to engage a man cook for a day or two before an entertainment.

I guess the resident Man Cook at your own establishment is above making such things as omelets. Make one for the poor tired darling, wont you?

An Omelette Souffle.
Put two ounces of the powder of chestnuts into a skillet, then add two yolks of new laid eggs, and dilute the whole with a little cream, or even a little water; when this is done, and the ingredients well mixed, leaving no lumps, add a bit of the best fresh butter, about the size of an egg, and an equal quantity of powdered sugar; then put the skillet on the fire, and keep stirring the contents; when the cream is fixed and thick enough to adhere to the spoon, let it bubble up once or twice, and take it from the fire; then add a third white of an egg to those you have already set aside, and whip them to the consistency of snow: then amalgamate the whipped white of eggs and the cream, stirring them with a light and equal hand, pour the contents into a deep dish, sift over with double refined sugar, and place the dish on a stove, with a fire over it as well as under, and in a quarter of an hour the cream will rise like an omelette soufflé: as soon as it rises about four inches it is fit to serve up.
The Complete Servant (1852)

Quotation for the Day.

A chop is a piece of leather skillfully attached to a bone and administered to the patients at restaurants.
Ambrose Bierce

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