Starting this week I will be posting rules and recipes from Pierre Blot’s Hand-Book of Practical Cookery publisher in 1887.
Introduction to Pierre Blot:
Pierre Blot was born in c. 1818 in France and died 29-8-1874. He moved to America in the 1850’s where he taught French for a time before he embarked on his publishing career in 1863. His first book was "What to Eat and How to Cook It". In 1865 Pierre opened a Culinary Academy of Design where he taught both cooks and young ladies the art of cooking. In 1866 he published his second book "Professor Blot's Lectures on Cookery, Delivered at Mercantile Hall". Then in 1867 he published his final book "Handbook of Practical Cookery for Ladies and Professional Cooks. Containing the Whole Science and Art of Preparing Human Food" (this is the book I will be taking my recipes from).
Food is the most important of our wants; we cannot exist without it. The man who does not use his brain to select and prepare his food, is not above the brutes that take it in its raw state. It is to the physique what education is to the mind, coarse or refined. Good and well-prepared food beautifies the physique the same as a good and well-directed education beautifies the mind. A cook-book is like a book on chemistry, it cannot be used to any advantage if theory is not blended with practice. It must also be written according to the natural products and climate of the country in which it is to be used, and with a perfect knowledge of the properties of the different articles of food and condiments.
Like many other books, it is not the size that makes it practical; we could have made this one twice as large as it is, without having added a single receipt to it, by only having given separate ones for pieces of meat, birds, fishes, etc., that are of the same kind and prepared alike. All cook-books written by mere compilers, besides giving the same receipt several times, recommend the most absurd mixtures as being the best and of the "latest French style."
Although cookery has made more progress within two or three years, in this country as well as in Europe, than it had since 1830, and although all our receipts are complete, practical, wholesome, and in accordance with progress, still they are simple. Our aim has been to enable every housekeeper and professional cook, no matter how inexperienced they may be, to prepare any kind of food in the best and most wholesome way, with economy, celerity, and taste; and also to serve a dinner in as orderly a manner as any steward can do.
We did not intend to make a book, such as that of CARÈME, which cannot be used at all except by cooks of very wealthy families, and with which one cannot make a dinner costing less than twenty dollars a head. Such a book is to housekeepers or plain cooks what a Latin dictionary is to a person of merely elementary education.
If we give so many different ways of preparing the same article of food, it is not with a view to complicate cookery, but people's taste is in food as in dress, differing not only in the selection of colors, but also in shape; therefore, by our variety of dishes and our different styles of decorating them; by the ease that they can be prepared in the cheapest as well as in the most costly way, we think we have met all wants and all tastes. The wealthy, as well as those in limited circumstances, can use our receipts with the same advantage.
Our division of cookery and the system of arranging bills of fare, contained in these pages, solve that great and perplexing question, especially for ladies, how to arrange a bill of fare for every season, to suit any number of guests, at a greater or less expense, as they may desire. Every one knows that money alone cannot make good dishes; however good the raw materials may be, they require proper preparations before being palatable and wholesome.
TO HOUSEKEEPERS AND COOKS.
A cook-book cannot be used like a dictionary; a receipt is like a rule of grammar: to comprehend it thoroughly, it is indispensable to understand others. The author, therefore, earnestly recommends to his readers to begin by perusing carefully the directions, etc., at the beginning of the book, and also the explanations given on and heading the different articles of food, before attempting the preparation of a dish for the first time. They will thus soon be able to prepare any dish by merely reading the receipt. If all the explanations necessary were given at every receipt, this work would have filled more than ten volumes like the present.
We are aware that the study of cookery is as uninviting and dry as the study of grammar at first; so is the study of every science and even art; but it becomes comparatively easy and interesting after a while. Mere flourish in a receipt would have the same effect as in a rule of grammar.
We think the following friendly recommendations will not be out of place here. They are in the interest of both the housekeeper and the cook:
Make use of every thing good.
Waste nothing, however little it may be.
Have no prejudices.
Be careful, clean, and punctual.
Always bear in mind that routine is the greatest enemy of progress, and that you have agreed to faithfully perform your daily duties for a certain consideration.