A selective list of historic French sauces and garnishes, and their naming myths, illustrating the vocabulary of the modern, pre 1950’s, French kitchen.


The victor writes the history and names the recipes. When Napoleon won at the battle of Marengo on June 14, 1800 a chicken construct was named to honor the occasion, although myth says it was thrown together using available ingredients. When Wellington won at Waterloo on June 15, 1815 a beef dish was constructed to honor him. Respectively known as Chicken Marengo and Beef Wellington.

Glenn Gary Gamboa's photo.
Glenn Gary Gamboa's photo.

There are numerous sites out here that claim they’ll explain French sauces to you in 500 words and you’ll soon be turning out the classics.  Those claims raise two important questions; who’d want to and would it be possible using today’s mass-produced meats and vegetables? Our tastes and the foods available to us have changed immensely in the last fifty years and it’s unlikely that you ever experience the French sauces of the modern period unless you travel to a starred Michelin restaurant in France.  But still from a historical perspective the study of these sauces, their names and how they relate to the people, places and events of the last few centuries is not only entertaining but gives us some insights into just how codified and anal French cuisine of the period was.  After our brief survey we’ll discuss what a French cook would need to know in order to construct these French sauces in a French kitchen and you’ll see that it requires more than just mastering the “mother” sauces as many obviously uninformed sites claim.  I’ve chosen some classic French sauces and garnishes, many perhaps unknown to you, to show how French recipes were named after famous personages and to frame an image of the taste and theater that made up dining in the passe period of French haute cuisine.

Visit http://cookbookhistory.wordpress.com/ for the history of French and Western cookbooks

A meal at a French restaurant meant ……..


A fresh water lagoon in Valencia Spain mentioned by Pliny for its famous wealth of birds and fishes in the first century. The dish/garnish  honors one L.G. Suchet whose valiant efforts against the Spanish were rewarded by Napoleon with the Dukedom of Albufera.

  • A bird stuffed with a truffle and goose liver risotto and garnished with tartlets filled with chicken quenelles, petite mushroom caps, cockscomb or chicken kidneys and truffles all bound with Allemande (German) sauce.
  • A poultry veloute with cayenne pepper and diced pimentos.

Honore De BALZAC 1850

The father of French romanticism and author of over 100 works that came to be known as the “La Comedie Humaine” or Human Comedy.

  • A poached filet of sole stuffed with a truffle forcemeat and masked with crayfish sauce and with a garnish of crayfish tails.
  • A sautéed beef filet with chicken quenelles and venison mousse stuffed green olives masked with Chasseur sauce.

Jean Anthelme BRILLAT SAVARIN 1826

Lawyer, first chair violinist, judge, writer and author of the famous tag line: “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are”.  He also wrote “La Physiologie Du Gout” …  “The Physiology of Taste”

  • A donut like, meaning with a hole in the middle, cake dessert usually soaked in rum or kirsch and occasionally topped with a fruit garnish. Something like a rum baba.
  • A omelet with woodcock, a game bird, farce and truffles masked in a woodcock demi-glace.
  • Tartelette garnish filled with woodcock and truffle farce, Espagnole sauce with woodcock essence.

Giacomo Girolamo CASANOVA 1798

Lover of chocolate, women and debauchery who was impotent by the age of thirty.  Worked for a while in a famous library where he chatted up and befriended many literary stars of the time who probably helped to get his memoirs published.

  • Sauce of mayonnaise with diced hard egg yolk, julienne of hard cooked egg whites and truffles.
  • Fish cooked with oysters, scallops and truffles bound in a white wine veloute sauce

Francois Rene CHATEAUBRIAND 1848

Author and politician who journeyed to the New World in search of a North-West passage. Allied with Napoleon and then against him after the empire collapsed. Wrote several books about his experiences in America.

  • A double cut filet from the center of the strip that is grilled then oven finished, served with Chateau Potatoes and a bouquetiere of vegetables, accompanied with Béarnaise sauce and a light masking of demi-glace.

Sauce Ernest Augustus CUMBERLAND 1923

An outcast British royal, because he sided with the Huns in WWI, later forgiven after he married another royalThis well known modern classic sauce was invented by the dukes chamberlain in his honor.

  • Currant jelly, port wine, orange juice, mustard, ginger, cayenne pepper, shallots, and a julienne of lemon and  orange peel used for dark meats, game and holiday hams.

Marie Jeanne Du BARRY 1793

Madame Du Barry was a well known courtesan who worked her way up and through the court of Louis XV to become very influential for decades until Madame Guillotine separated her head from body.

  • Any sauce, soup or dish that has cauliflower as its main ingredient.


A sort of mushroom mince sweated down with shallots and white wine used as a stuffing. Created for the Marquis D’Uxelles and the construct is a good example of a farce. Can be combined with  some Espagnole sauce and some type of protein to use in forcemeats, stuffing’s and sauces.

Albert EDWARD VII 1910

King of England, son of Victoria, enjoyed food and the good life, as a  “Bon Vivant”, for over 60 years while he waited to become king. Big promoter of Worcestershire sauce when it hit the market.

  • Breast of chicken stuffed with goose liver and truffle risotto, masked with chicken supreme sauce with a little added curry and paprika powders, garnished with cucumbers in cream béchamel sauce. This dish was created by Escoffier the most famous chef of the time.

Benjamin FRANKLIN 1790

Yup Americas “Poor Richard”, randy womanizer, philosopher, inventor, revolutionary, statesmen, author and ambassador to France. Franklin thought “Americans” shouldn’t concern themselves with the finer points of cuisine and instead be more egalitarian and involved in the conversations of the dining table. It seems we’ve followed his advice about the enjoyment and knowledge of what we put in our palates if not the table conversation.

  • Cooked fish, filet or whole, masked with a Normande sauce with truffles, mushrooms, shrimp and truffle slices, served with fish quenelles.
  • A farce stuffed piece of roasted meat served with braised whole onions and pan fried potatoes.

Giuseppe GARIBALDI 1882

The national hero of Italy who help unify the country in the middle of the nineteenth century. Spent time in Uruguay where he participated in the civil war and adopted his famous red shirt.

  • A demi-glace with mustard, Cayenne and garlic that is finished with anchovy butter.

HELOISE d’Argenteuil 1164

Renown tragic lover of Peter Abelard, they were sort of the Romeo and Juliet of the twelth century but instead of suicide they both entered the church and their relationship is the literary trope for many a romance novel.

  • A poached fish served with a veloute that has been enriched with mushroom essence, shallots, white wine, lemon juice, then finished a little Glace de Viande

Fredrick von HOLSTEIN 1909

Bismarck’s main man who continued on when the chancellor left office. This used to be a common dish in the states perhaps because von Holstein spent a year or so in Washington, DC and there were so many German immigrants.

  • A schnitzel, breaded veal cutlet, topped with a fried egg,  capers and anchovies. Served with smoked salmon and sardine topped canapes, pickles, beets and pan-fried potatoes.

ISMAIL Pasha 1895

Ismail the magnificent Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. Brought Egypt into the modern age until the British got him ousted from power for his democratic reforms and his hopes for European independence.

  • Poached fish with fine herbs, and mushrooms atop of a pea and pimento pilaf masked with a fish beurre blanc sauce.

Andrew JACKSON 1845

American hero “Old Hickory” in the war of 1812 and President of the US.

  • A cream of potato soup with green beans, julienne of leeks and tapioca pearls (cassava).
  • Fish with pearl onions, masked with a fish supreme sauce served with puff paste fleurons … half moons.
  • Baked potato with the flesh removed, mixed with butter then replaced, like a twice baked potato.


Immensely popular singing celebrity in America during the mid 19th century as was known as the “Swedish Nightingale”

  • Poached eggs Jenny Lind were tart shells filled with cauliflower puree with a poached egg perched on top and then masked with Béarnaise sauce.

Dartois LAGUIPIERE 1812

Napoleon’s chef, who Carème said was the best in the world, froze to death on the retreat from Moscow. Created many a chef and even more recipes but no known written works.

  • Crepes filled with chocolate and roasted chopped nuts, flamed with cognac and Cointreau.
  • A consommé of pheasant with custard, pheasant quenelles, poached pigeon eggs and sherry.
  • Poached fish masked in a white wine veloute with mushrooms and quenelles of scallops and fish.

Jean Batiste LULLY 1687

From scullery boy to the founder and director of the Paris opera who introduced the minuet to the French court.

  • Fried eggs on a bed of macaroni with tomato concasse, encircled by ham slices.
  • Chicken breast stuffed with poultry farce, masked with truffled supreme sauce and garnished with mushrooms and cockscombs


Yeah the same one who said “let them eat brioche” and donated her head to the basket of Madame guillotine.

  • A game consommé with truffles, game quenelles and GOLD leaf.
  • A cream of pheasant soup with white Bordeaux wine and quenelles of pheasant and truffles.

Dame Nellie MELBA 1931

Aka Helen Porter Mitchell a Melbourne Australia soprano.

  • A peach poached in vanilla syrup with orange zest, served on vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce, whipped cream and almonds.


The location of a great  victory for Napoleon against the Austrians in Italy. Myth tells us that the emperors chef created the dish out of what was readily on hand and that Napoleon thought of it as a culinary good luck charm never allowing any modifications.

  • Chicken sautéed in olive oil with  a tomatoes, onions, garlic, cognac sauce garnished with fried egg and craw fish and served with soldiers bread.

Fridjof NANSEN 1930

A Norwegian explorer and statesman, who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1922 for his humanitarian efforts to help Russian refugees after WWI.  He was the first man to ski across Greenland and created the Nansen passport; the first globally recognized refugee document.

  • Poached cold salmon glazed with aspic, julienne vegetables in gelee, cold cucumber stuffed tomato halves served with caviar and mayonnaise.

Admiral Horatio NELSON 1805

A brave sailor whose illustrious career ended at the battle of Trafalgar, Spain, where his navy defeated a combined French and Spanish force.  After his death he was pickled in rum and sent back to England to be buried in Trafalgar Square, which explains the British seaman’s euphemism of “Nelson Blood” attached to rum.

  • Grenadines of beef, seared then covered with farce and onion puree, coated in bread crumbs and oven finished, served with Madeira sauce.
  • Joint of roasted meat, sliced and layered with onion puree and bacon rashers then topped with cheese soufflé batter and baked, served with Madeira sauce.
  • Noisettes of potato surrounded by slices of poached fish, masked with a white wine veloute and garnished with scallops.

Prince Nikolay Alexeyevich ORLOV 1885

Aka Orloff member of an old established Russian family that had a way with diamonds and trotting horses.

  • A poached timbale lined with crepes and then filled with chicken farce, pickled tongue and farina served with a chicken supreme sauce.
  • A veal rack left on the bone but sliced and layered with soubise and truffles, then covered with an onion béchamel and gratineed. Served with asparagus tips, braised celery and veal au jus.

Antoine Auguste PARMENTIER 1813

The major promoter of the New World potato in France. He also championed smallpox vaccinations and cultivation of the sugar beet in France.

  • Sautéed diced potatoes with chopped parsley.

Jeanne Antoinette POMPADOUR 1764

Mistress to Louis XV for 5 years, she was a noted decorator and influenced French policy for almost 20 years.  Myth tells us that she often tempted men with her food as well as her seductive and well educated manner.

  • Sautéed breaded fish, with Noisettes potatoes, and truffle slices and masked with tomato flavored Béarnaise sauce.
  • A filet of beef with truffle sauce, potato croquettes and lentil filled artichoke bottoms.

Cesar de Choiseul PRALINE 1675

Marshall and diplomat of France whose cook is said to have accidentally dropped some almonds into a pot of boiling sugar and then poured the mixture out on a marble table thinking it a mistake. He left the room and when he returned found that the sugar had solidified; seizing the moment named the mistake after his employers royal title.

  • Numerous examples using different types of nuts whole or sliced. A popular US Southern confection that often uses pecans.

Armand Jean Du Plesis de RICHELIEU 1642

Famous French Cardinal who had the knives of the dinner table blunted so diners would have a harder time stabbing each other about the same time that the Italian inspired fork appeared. Fought against the protestant threat in France.

  • A tomato sauce with meat essence and garnished with chopped tomatoes.
  • Beef filet with duxelles tomatoes, farce stuffed mushrooms, braised lettuce and chateau potatoes.

Nicolas ROMANOFF II 1917

The last Czar of Russian, killed along with his family in the revolution.

  • Strawberries marinated in port wine and sugar, served with whipped cream and often vanilla ice cream

Benjamin Thompson RUMFORD 1814

Known as count Rumford who invented the first commercial coffee maker, calibrated oven, and efficient iron fireplace box.  He was a rather dicey and eccentric character who would go from marriage to marriage for money and helped to feed and set up soup kitchens for the poor. You may have heard of or used his baking powder.

  • A soup of peas, barley, potatoes and bacon

John Montague, Earl of SANDWICH 1792

Myth tells us that John was a consummate card player who, rather then leave the gaming table, placed some ingredients between two pieces of bread and ate his meal with one hand. When the other players at the table saw this act they uttered “I’ll have what Sandwich has …  yes give me a sandwich too!”

Henri Morton STANLEY 1904

Who is said to have muttered “Doctor Livingstone I presume?” A newspaper reporter from the New York Times, African explorer and first surveyor of the Congo river in Africa.

  • A poached  chicken filled with a truffle, rice and mushroom farce, masked with chicken veloute.
  • Fish on rice pilaf, masked with a white wine veloute and garnished with mushrooms and truffles.

Alexander Gregorievich STROGANOFF 1811

Russian businessman and explorer of Siberia. The count lends his family name to this rather ubiquitous construct even in a hamburger helper guise.

  • Saute cubes or julienne of beef that has been floured in paprika with mustard, demi-glace and sour cream sauce.

Leo Nikolayevich TOLSTOY 1910

Russian novelist, philosopher and poet who wrote War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

  • A sautéed filet of beef in a demi-glace sauce with diced tomatoes, onions, cornichons and paprika.

Francois VATEL 1676

A Swiss chef much glorified by the French for falling on his kitchen knife when seafood for an important banquet that Louis XIV was attending failed to arrive. Unfortunately the fish in question is said to have arrived soon after Franks last breath.

  • Fish consommé with a julienne of sole and a shrimp custard garnish.
  • A poached filet of sole masked with a Chambord veloute and garnished with stuffed cucumber barquettes and portion of baked sole.

Giuseppe Fortunino Francesco VERDI 1901

Famous Italian composer of operas ; Aida, Falstaff, Macbeth and Rigoletto.

  • Filet of sole on a bed of macaroni masked with a light cheese sauce, garnished with lobster and truffle slices then baked.

Arthur Wellesley WELLINGTON 1852

Kicked Napoleons butt at Waterloo.

  • Roasted whole filet, covered with a duxelles farce, wrapped in bacon, enclosed in pastry dough then baked, served with truffle demi-glace.