Welcome to the ACF We Are Chefs Book Club! Our July 2019 book is Gary Allen’s “Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). If it sounds like something you’d be interested in reading, we encourage you to pick up a copy at your local library and read along with us. Update us on your progress with the hashtag #ACFbookclub on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll hold a Facebook discussion at the end of the month.
Every once in a while, a culinary book is published that will change the way we view cuisine. “Sauces Reconsidered: Après Escoffier” by Gary Allen is just such a book. Written for the culinary professional, it offers the reader nothing less than a way to reconsider the classification and grouping of sauces.
Allen, also the author of “Herbs: A Global History,” among many other thoughtful texts, begins his review of sauces by starting with the fish sauces garum and liquamen of ancient Rome and proceeds to the sauces of Asia as well as the Middle East.
The work of such legendary culinary figures as Marie-Antoine Carême, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Alexis Benoit Soyer and Auguste Escoffier are analyzed in depth (complete with original and adapted recipes), yet Allen finds that their esteemed “Mother Sauces” no longer encompass the full range of modern sauces enjoyed by diners today.
Allen points out that the original French sauces and their adapted step-sister sauces are all classified by the ingredients they contain. The difficulty arrives, he believes, when one broadens the traditional category of sauces to include such modern favorites as Worcestershire Sauce, steak sauces like A.1. and Heinz, Tabasco, soy sauce, Latin salsas, Asian fish and oyster sauces, ketchups, various mayonnaises, mustard sauces such as Dijon and Grey Poupon, salad dressings ranging from green goddess to bleu cheese… and the list goes on and on.
Published as part of Rowman & Littlefield’s esteemed Studies in Food and Gastronomy, Allen offers readers a solution that fits the diverse cuisine of our times. He lays out in a tour de force presentation the necessity of reclassifying the sauces, not by the ingredients they contain, but rather by their principal method of preparation.
The six new groupings he suggests are organized by their main method of preparation: solutions, suspensions, gels, emulsions, cultured sauces and composites. In each category, he details the modern sauces that comprise that category as well as additional supportive recipes and related history.
Extensively researched and annotated, this is a must-read book for any creative professional chef, culinary instructor or inspired home cook. It will broaden the reader’s view of the sauces that now enrich the culinary cultures of every nation as well as spark a host of new creative ideas.