LA VARENNE Le Cuisinier francois, enseignant la manière de bien apprester & assaisonner toutes fortes de viandes, grasses & maigres, legumes, & Patisseries en perfection, &c. Reveu, corrigé, & augmenté d’un Traitté de Confitures seiches & liquides, & autres delicatesses de bouche.


« Le cuisinier françois » by La Varenne printed in Paris in 1654.

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A Paris, chez Pierre David, 1654.

8vo [166 x 102 mm ] of 8 prelim. leaves, 354 pp. and (15) ll. of table. Handwritten ex libris on the title, small loss in the white upper margin of the last leaf not touching the text, some dog-eared pages. Full limp vellum, handwritten title on the spine. A few stains on the covers. Contemporray binding.

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An edition of the celebrated “Cuisinier français” by La Varenne famous for its purity. One of the very first, published three years after the first edition, in 1654.

Vicaire, 496 ; B.N. Paris, 90, 630

Published one century before the golden age of gastronomy, the “Cuisinier français” is the seminal work of the period which saw the surging back of Middle Ages culinary manners.

The exhibition “Livres en Bouche” at the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal, in Paris, gave us the opportunity to come back to the reasons of its stupendous success.

The market of books dealing with gastronomy was dominated during the second half of the 17th century by the very conventional compilation of la Varenne, and that until the progressive consumption of its hegemony by a rival : the Cuisinier royal et bourgeois de Massialot.

Pierre David publishes in Paris in 1651 the first edition of the Cuisinier françois. This first edition is extremely rare today; only 3 copies would remain located. But it is the text of the second edition, « revue et corrigée » (“reviewed and corrected”), which was an authority. Twelve reprints were published in Paris between 1651 and 1660.

« This work marks the beginning of a new era. Not only there was no new cookbook published in France for one century, but recipes that were proposed also showed a sensitive evolution of taste (…) Therefore La Varenne was laying the foundations for new standards of taste (…).

This work is as new in the history of taste as it is in the material history of cookbooks of which it ushers in the modern formula: it differs from all its predecessors by the clarity of its layout that follows the order of the services of the meal: soups first, then starters, roasts and desserts. This simple structure is repeated three times, according to traditional religious precepts: days with meat, days without meat not during Lent, and during Lent. Between those three large parts are inserted a few recipes of stocks (…). »

« The all book forms a set of approximately 700 recipes, of which most of them are numbered and listed in tables placed at the front of each service. The distinction between basic and sophisticated preparations, the numbering of recipes, the appearance of tables are elements which tend to a rational organization of the cookbook. By speaking in the first-person, the cook becomes the real subject and author of his cookery ».

(B.n.F., Livres en bouche, n° 106)

A wide-margined copy absolutely unrestored, preserved in its contemporary limp vellum.

No copy of this 1654 edition has appeared on the international public market in the last thirty-five years.

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