Friday, March 27, 2015

Subtleties&Stuffe Giles Rose Part 1

 Giles Rose

Giles Rose described himself as a master cook in the English royal kitchens who flourished during the Restoration period of c1664-1681. In reality he may have been, according to historian Gilly Lehmann, just a minor yeoman in the kitchens, but no matter. Following some success as a translator of such works as Boaistuau's Théâtre du monde, Rose was invited by his publisher to undertake the translation of the French manual L’ecole parfaite des officiers de bouche. This 1662 work is a compilation of earlier French culinary works going back as far as the 1555 Livre fort excellent de cuisine and also including the 1653 Le Patissier Francois and Pierre de Lune’s 1656 Le Cuisinier. Barbara Wheaton notes that L’ecole parfaite "describes itself all too correctly as "one book which contains several…" It proved popular and was reprinted well into the mid eighteenth century. [Wheaton Savoring the Past, p 149]

Rose’s translation bears the odd English title of A Perfect School of Instructions for the Officers of the Mouth: shewing the whole art of a master of the houshold, a master carver, a master butler, a master confectioner, a master cook, a master pastryman; being a work of singular use for ladies and gentlewomen and all persons whatsoever that are desirous to be acquainted with the most excellent arts of carving, cookery, pastry, preserving, and laying a cloth for grand entertainments; the like never before extant in any language; adorned with pictures curiously ingraven, displaying the whole arts / by Giles Rose, one of the master cooks in His Majesties kitchen. It appeared in 1682. 

It’s a massive work of over 560 pages; the section “Le Confiturier Royal: Or, The Royal Confectioner” on confections covers pages 125-288, over 160 pages, making it a substantial collection of detailed recipes on confections, sallets, biskets,  preserves, chips, pastes, fruits, syrups, waters, and bellies.

Unfortunately, A Perfect School appeared in only the one edition, and since the work was ostensibly just a work on instructions for servants and clerks and not a book of translated French recipes, it has been largely overlooked as a valuable source for seventeenth century recipes. We are fortunate today that EEBO Editions released an edition of the original book in 2010. The paperback may be found at where it now sells for $41.22. Those with access may also find it online at EEBO. One may also view a copy of A Perfect School courtesy of the Library of Congress’ pages devoted to the Elizabeth Robins Pennell culinary collection.
We shall examine his sugar boiling instructions in the next post.

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