1. Sauces – ever wondered how they came to be created?

    April 21, 2015 by vgd

    ‘Sauce’, the French word for ‘relish’ originally came into being to make our food more appetizing. Sauces are liquid or semi-liquid foods devised to make other foods look, smell and even taste better. In days gone by, the lack of refrigeration meant that food didn’t last long. Sauces and gravies were introduced to mask the flavour of tainted foods.

    The Romans often used sauces to disguise the taste of the food. Marian Woodman, in her article Food & Cooking in Roman Britain, wrote:

    “The main course varied both in the number and elaboration of dishes. Roast and boiled meat, poultry, game or other meat delicacies would be served and no dish was complete without its highly flavoured and seasoned sauce. The main object seemed to be to disguise the natural taste of food – possibly to conceal doubtful freshness or to demonstrate the variety of costly spices available to the host. Sometimes, so many ingredients were used in a sauce it was impossible to single out any one flavour. The sauces were usually thickened with wheat flour or crumbled pastry.

    Liquamen, a type of fish stock, (anchovies are the main ingredient) was so popular that it was factory-produced in many towns in the Roman Empire.”

    Basic Sauces

    There are five basic sauces, known as ‘grandees sauces’, two of which, Béchamel and Mayonnaise have been around for more than two hundred years. Not only do these two taste extremely good, but they are also extremely adaptable, providing a basis for a number of other sauces.



    Béchamel Sauce

    Although rumoured to be invented by both Duke Philippe De Mornay and Marquis Louis de Béchamel, it is more likely that Chef Francois Pierre de la Varenne created Béchamel Sauce. Often cited as being the founder of haute cuisine, Béchamel was a Court Chef during King Louis XIV’s reign and it is thought that he dedicated it to Béchamel, the Chief Steward as a compliment.




    Consisting of oil, egg, vinegar, condiments and spices, Mayonnaise was originally called Mahonnaise and only got its present name when it was wrongly printed in an early 1841 cookbook. It is thought that Mayonnaise was first invented to celebrate the 1756 French capture of Mahon, a city on the Spanish Isle of Minorca. It is said that the Duke’s personal Chef created a victory feast which included a sauce made of cream and eggs. In the absence of cream, he substituted olive oil and the new sauce was born.

    The French cities Bayonne and Les Mayons also claim to be the birthplace of Mayonnaise, whilst historians also claim it received its name from the words ‘moyeunaise’ or ‘moyeu, meaning egg yolk.

    In 1910, Nina Hellman, made a dressing that her husband using on sandwiches and salads he served in his New York delicatessen. Such was the demand for the dressing, he started a distribution business and now accounts for 45% of all bottled mayonnaise sold in the US.

    Perfect Sauces

    Perfect Sauces

    Perfect Sauces

    If you’d to learn the art of preparing the perfect sauce to finish off your favourite dishes, why not join us for a Perfect Sauce Day course? Our next one is running on Sunday 14th June.