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Saturday, December 5, 2020

About King of Cook

GEORGE AUGUSTE ESCOFFIER
This French man’s innovative dishes were sought after by kings,
emperors, leading men and women of the high society, and by every taste bud
around the world in the 19th century.  He was called ‘king of the cooks’ and ‘cook
of the kings’. 
He was little known for many years until one day Prince Edward –
VIII, the heir to the throne of England,
came along with his close friends to have a meal at London’s most aristocratic hotel.  G.A. Escoffier was informed about the royal
diner and immediately he set about preparing a dish which was never known to
anyone.  The dish was served in French
style.  Prince Edward after tasting it
was utterly in awe of what it was made of; he wanted to know what that dish was
and who made it.  Escoffier was brought
to him and the rest was history:  This
French dish made from frogs’ legs became popular throughout England.   The English hated the French for eating
frogs; they thought it was barbaric and uncouth.  Escoffier, in a private moment with Prince
Edward, told him that the frogs’ legs were poached in a while wine bouillon,
steeped in an aromatic cream sauce, seasoned with paprika, tinted gold, covered
with champagne and served cold.  Since
then, the Prince often dined in the same hotel where Escoffier was the chef.


A.G. Escoffier combined unexpected ingredients, invented new
flavors and was not afraid of trying new methods of cooking.   He often took simple, never-before-tried items
and turned into a magical food.    He wanted
everyone, irrespective of class and creed, to enjoy.  Though his clientele were mostly aristocrats,
he wanted to devise something for the middle-class so that they, too, might
enjoy his foods.  So he worked and
studied the problem, and finally devised new dishes – on par with what he made
for the aristocrats – for the common people. 
The main doctrine he preached time and again to his fellow cooks
who were under his tutelage was this: 
“Food should look like food”.   Escoffier
made even a simple meal with much delicacy and efficiency; he never compromised
on anything when it came to fine dining.  They were easily digestible and soft on the
stomach.
During the war with Prussia, Escoffier cooked for the French
soldiers, and when the regular meat – mutton, beef, chicken and pork – ran out,
they were reduced to eating horses; horses that were killed in the battle.  The horse meat was less palatable because it
was bitter and the soldiers complained about it.  Escoffier came to their rescue.  He took the horse meat and boiled it first and
left it to cool (this process removed the bitterness in it) before giving the
horse meat his magic touch.  He became
popular with the soldiers.  Escoffier did
not stop there, he went about devising plans to put food in cans so that the
soldiers may eat when they like.  This
method of canning foods was popularized by him.
Escoffier was cook par excellence. 
His skill in cooking reached all parts of the world.  He spent days and weeks, experimenting with
food.  He worked hard and demanded the
same from his student cooks.  Strangely
enough, he never tasted his dishes.  He
had simple meals – soup, boiled rice, and fish.

One day when
Prince Edward-VII asked whether he tasted the dishes he cooked, he said, “No
need”.   Whenever he prepared something,
he would put one finger to his nose and sniffed to check his dishes. 
In 1935 George Auguste Escoffier passed away at a grand old age of
89.  He left behind hundreds of dishes
which the people around the world still relish and cherish.   Long
live the king of cooks in our memory!!
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