Larousse Gastronomique: The World’s Greatest Culinary Encyclopedia

The meaning of food goes deep – it carries great significance to it. It is clear that we need to eat in order to survive, but symbolically it means so much more than that. Food is about history, culture, and even a symbol of prosperity, health and overall wellness. It has been a fascinating topic for me since I can remember – possibly because I grew up learning to appreciate it, savor it and take care of it — as we all should. Food brings people together – even under dire circumstances, food can well be an antidote to healing.

I recall growing up that we learned from a large set of Encyclopedia Britannica books that were developed specifically to provide general coverage on a variety of different subjects and topics worldwide. So why not provide general knowledge – possibly more defined knowledge on a variety of foods/spices/ingredients that have withstood the test of time?

Larousse Gastronomique is the world’s most famous culinary book of reference. The knowledge imparted from a book like this one is tremendous as it provides various aspects of cookery, history, traditions, biographies of famous chefs and people who have greatly influenced the world of gastronomy. Additionally, cooking terms are provided, techniques of the culinary persuasion are shared such as learning how to properly make a sauce or fillet a fish as well as including more than 3,800 classic recipes.  

The creation of Larousse Gastronomique was born from a vision of Prosper Montagné, a French Chef who produced the first edition in Paris in 1938. His idea was to provide his readers with not only a history of edibles, but an overview of 20th Century gastronomy and a great source of reference for the points of cookery. After 23 years, the first edition was published and it became what seemed to be an overnight culinary guide for chefs, cooks and foodies everywhere.

Since the awakening of such a book, it has been updated by a French committee under the wise guidance of famous chef Joél Robochon and a well-informed committee of chefs and writers. The guidance that a book such as this one provides is monumental as the world of food and cooking continues to grow and change over the years.

Lastly, Larousse Gastronomique brings together a wonderful amalgamation of theory, history, culture and practice. This book is historical because it has proved to be the utmost reference book for professional chefs, cooks and food enthusiasts around the world.

I’d like to share tid-bits of this book from time to time because it actually can and will continue to add meaning to a better appreciation of food in general, but can also add to knowledge in becoming a better cook. Especially in the state of our current world….this pandemic, issues surrounding sustainability, minimizing chronic disease and more — the need to eat for better health and seeing food as medicine could make such a positive difference in better, healthier living.

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