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Sunday, 13 July 2014


The first winner at the Olympics in Athens in 776 BC was a Greek cook called Coroebus.

Saint Lawrence (December  31, AD August 10, 258 was one of the seven deacons of the city of Rome, under Pope St Sixtus II who were martyred in the persecution of the Christians that the Roman Emperor Valerian ordered in 258. Saint Lawrence was executed in a giant grill, and while he was being killed he screamed "I'm well done. Turn me over!". After that the Catholic Church made him saint patron of cooks, chefs and comedians.

The French king Charles V's master cook, Guillaume Tirel, wrote the first important French cookbook, Le Viandier, in 1375. He was more familiarly known as Taillevent (literally “cut the smell”) because of the length of his nose.

Taillevent's menus consisted mostly of soups, meats, poultry, fish and soups, which were so heavily seasoned by spices, the taste of the food was largely obscured.

Charles I  once hosted a state banquet for many of his friends and family. Amongst the treats the King's French chef had concocted was an appetising new dish. It was cold and resembled fresh-fallen snow but was much creamier and sweeter than any other after dinner dessert. The guests were delighted as was Charles who summoned the cook, De Mirco and had him promise not to divulge the recipe for his frozen cream. The King wanted the delicacy only at the Royal Table and offered the cook £500 a year to keep it that way. However De Mirco did not keep his promise.

Cooks wore headgear for the first time in the 1820s in England. The cook who had to supervise the preparation of the massive joints being served wore a black cap to help enable him to carry the roast to the table on a silver platter on his head.

Eighteen-year-old Franz Joseph (1830-1916) was arguing with his cook when he was told his father had abdicated and he was now Emperor of Austro-Hungary. His first words as ruler were:  “I am the Emperor and I want dumplings."

The Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini was an inventive cook. After 1829  he  gave up composing and concentrated on cooking and produced a score of recipes such as Thrush and Chestnut soup.

Marcel Boulestin became the world’s first television cook in 1937 when he presented the first of the Cooks Night Out programmes on the BBC.

In the U.S. Julia Child's 1962 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and television show almost single-handedly changed the way Americans cooked and ate. Her detailed printed instructions for chocolate mousse and coq au vin made those French classics possible for even a limited cook. Her wildly popular recipe for the latter was copied in millions of kitchens throughout America. A simple chicken dish, it is made with mushrooms, onions, bacon and red wine.

Julia Child at WGBH. By KUHT - Wikipedia Commons

Julia Child concocted her first “recipe” while working as a spy during the Second World War It was a shark repellent.

Julia Child died on August 13, 2004 of kidney failure at the age of 91. Her last meal was French onion soup.

Sources Food For Thought by Ed Pearce,

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