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A HISTORY OF FRENCH COURSES: An overview

Before proceeding, in future posts, to examine the history of individual courses in France, it is useful first to look at the general concept over time.
The Romans had a relatively set series of courses for their main meal and there is some evidence that traces of this survived, for at least a time, in early France (for details, see this earlier post). But by the late Middle Ages, when detailed records again become available, no discernible order appears in meals.

In the thirteenth century, two French kings tried to regulate excess in meals. Their statutes mention no courses at all, just two or three dishes, sometimes specified (bacon pottage, for instance) and dessert, indirectly referenced as tart, flan or cheese. A rare cookbook written around this time, the Enseignements qui enseingnent a apareillier toutes manieres de viandes, lists foods only by type, not by any meal order.

The first major French cookbook, the Viandier, appeared in the fourteenth century and very approximately …

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