Guide to French Sauces

Sauces (or relish) in French cuisine are said to date back to Medieval times where there were literally hundreds of regional sauces (based on what was grown or available locally). With the onset of better transportation links and developing industrial infrastructure, recipes began to travel beyond their localized origins and incorporated by other regions into their daily kitchen output of both rich and poor houses alike. Hybrid sauces began to appear as each region took something from another.

However, this anarchic approach to cuisine was soon to change. In the 19th century, from his humble beginnings when he ejected into poor-street at the tender age of ten, the chef Antonin Careme classified sauces into four families, each based on a mother sauce. Careme had in the turmoil of the French history built such a reputation with food as an art form that he became one of Frances biggest exports serving dignitaries such as the Prince Regent and future King George the 4th of England, tsar Alexander the 1st, the Viennese court, Princess Bagration, Lord Steward and the Baron Rothschild. Careme’s four mother sauces were, like the developmental anarchy of the early years, based on influences from his travels. He developed
Allemande, based on stock with egg yolk and lemon juice
Bchamel, based on flour and milk
Espagnole, based on brown stock (beef, etc.)
Velout, based on a light broth (fish, chicken, or veal)

The link of food with royalty soon provided a central axis against which food could be elevated to a position of art, similar to a canon of literature or great visual art. Standards were set and everyone it seemed had to follow suit in order to be in with a chance of making it.

It was from his regal position that the chef Auguste Escoffier in the early 20th century updated the original classifications. He replaced sauce allemande with Hollandaise and mayonnaise, a sauce made as an egg-based emulsion rather than an addition to a stock. Escoffier further added tomate or red sauce to the list making the five mother sauces still taught as the foundation of modern French sauce making to enterprising young chefs.


  1. Category:Mother sauces
  2. Do You Know Your French Mother Sauces? — Cooking Guides from …

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