Publication Date

April 2019


Kari Weil


*French Studies


English (United States)


François Pierre de La Varenne’s seventeenth-century cookbook, “Le Cuisinier François,” has been said to have marked the beginning of authentic French cuisine. A new kind of meat, one that is aesthetically pleasing, appears at the center of this revolutionary cookbook. La Varenne combines artistry and meat rendering for the first time by using techniques of disguise. Upon analysis of “Le Cuisinier François,” we find that La Varenne’s solution to the “aesthetic problem of meat” has led to a contemporary “epistemic problem of meat:” ignorance of the grisly origins of the meat on our plate. This latter problem is so ingrained in modern French culture that it would seem virtually impossible for France to ever abandon their meat-centric gastronomy. We end with an exploration of the vegetable-based artwork of contemporary three-Michelin-star chef Alain Passard, who embraces the French values of artistry, perfection, innovation, and terroir to create vegetarian culinary masterpieces.



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