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From the INTRODUCTION.
"Animals feed, men eat, but only intelligent men know what to eat." - Brillat-Savarin.
THIS Cookery Book is not meant to take the place of the hundred and more thick volumes that have been compiled within the last fifty years. It neither pretends to explain the various terms in use among the chefs of the haute cuisine, nor to indicate the innumerable ways of preparing fish, flesh, or fowl that every professed cook knows as well or better than most writers on the subject It is intended to give a few suggestions to women of the world who appreciate the advantages of well-prepared food, and know the value that such food has in married life.
A series of well-chosen, well-cooked dinners, not necessarily large ones, will attract a man and keep him at home - interested and amiable - more than the ordinary woman supposes. In the interests of home life a well-cooked dinner is of more importance than a well-dressed wife. A man will admire a pretty dress, but in time he will get used to the unsatisfactory result of clothes; he never gets tired of good food, dressed with care and taste.
This book is therefore not intended as a complete Cours de Cuisine, but as an aid to women, and an indication of the simple methods employed in French homes, where the daily meals are always well prepared, at the humblest as at the most luxurious tables.
The elementary rules of good cooking are cleanliness, fresh ingredients, and good butter. The quality of the butter used in the preparing of eggs, vegetables, fish, meat, and sauces is of the greatest importance. In fact, in this matter alone is the secret of the different flavour of a plain dish cooked at the good restaurant from the same cooked at the "wine shop at the corner." A dish of French beans, small and tender, will be prepared in the same manner by the proprietor of the shop as by the chef at the restaurant; but one will use "kitchen" butter, the other will employ the finest to be procured. At one of the famous cuisines butter is purchased at the rate of 3s. 6d. the pound. This I mention to show the importance chefs attach to quality.
In French household cooking, good fresh butter is always used.
Another important factor is the utensil. Sauce-pans and frying-pans play a great part in the cooking of food. They must be scrupulously clean, and as the ordinary cook is more or less careless in this respect, the utensils should be either in common red earthenware or in china. In the majority of kitchens where hygiene is studied under the mistress's supervision, copper saucepans line the walls, but are rarely used. The daily food is prepared in china. With half-a-dozen china saucepans of all sizes, costing on the average tenpence apiece, a couple of frying-pans, an earthenware pot for soup, a smaller one for vegetables, a "cocotte" (a cast-iron stew-pan and cover), and a fish-kettle, the average household is ready for all emergencies. The outlay for china and earthenware is so small, that if a saucepan occasionally breaks, it can be replaced for a few pence.