History of the evolution of world cuisine is among the most interesting topics, because not only it describes the stages of the dishes development, but it also concerns the geographic and historical peculiarities of different countries. In order to understand essential steps in the development of cuisine of a particular country better, it is significant to analyze it from the perspective of two main factors: the country’s history and geographic location. This paper focuses on the development of three cuisines (French, British, and American) and proves the fact that they were formed and developed under the enormous impact of the historical processes, which occurred in those countries. In order to prove this fact, it is important to cover such historical events as the Age of Discoveries, empires’ formation, and immigration. These three factors formed the basis for the development of cuisines of the above-mentioned countries.
The Cuisine of the 17th-Century France
French cuisine is conventionally divided into three parts: cuisine regionale, i.e. regional cuisine; cuisine bourgeoise, which means the common French cuisine; and haute cuisine that is the cuisine of a higher rank, for example court cuisine of the French kings. The last type of cuisine appeared in France in the 17th century. Many reasons served as a pushing tool for its emergence and eventually impacted the world cuisine.
The first reason for the popularity of the French haute cuisine in the 17th century was the increased prestige of French culture. During this century, the era of sugar and chocolate, as well as global food supply gave a start to the haute cuisine of France. The abundance of the products encouraged extreme gastronomic inventions, targeted at the elite. In 1765, when the ‘health house’ restaurant was started by M. Boulanger, cooking became a philosophy. Later, when the the world of cooking was influenced by the Revolution, French culinary style slowly spread throughout the world and became universal.
The period of the 17th century was marked not only by great improvements in all spheres of the human life in France, but it also gave a powerful impetus to the development of the culinary arts. Hence, due to the Age of Discoveries, the 17th-century French chefs were already familiar with many spices, seasonings, new products (potatoes, tomatoes, and maize-corn), as well as overseas fruit that were all brought to Europe during the Age of Discovery. The chefs of the French cuisine excelled in cooking fancy dishes, leaving ancient cooks far behind. As a consequence, in the 17th century, various famous sauces began to be widely consumed.
The third reason for the haute cuisine emergence was the release of Massaliot and La Varenne, the first monumental works of French cuisine, which, on the one hand, represented the results of the development, while, on the other hand, were the reason why the haute cuisine appeared in France. The menus included a variety of desserts, such as jellies, jams, sweets, and cakes. During the 17th century, French chefs began to pay considerable attention to the beauty of the table setting. The meals started to be served differently, so that each guest could choose from a number of dishes. Hence, these three essential reasons made a significant contribution to the development of the French haute cuisine of the 17th century.
The Cuisine of Britain
The process of the British diet development both throughout the empire and at home is a direct reflection of the British national spirit, because British cuisine embodies a firm tradition, which can hardly be impacted by any external agents. The main factors that formed its traditional cuisine were the insular position of England and culinary preferences of many invaders, starting from the Roman legionnaires and Germanic tribes to severe knights of William of Normandy.
The first reason for the formation of a special British diet is country’s geographic location and historical particularities. Hence, fish and seafood, fowl meat and livestock, bread and cheese, as well as vegetables and fruit are main ingredients, which have been forming the daily diet of British people for many centuries. Unlike continental cuisine with its range of sauces, condiments, and complex bouquet of flavors, the British have always preferred the natural taste and smell of fresh products. Simultaneously with the expansion of England into the British Empire, national cuisine began to be influenced by the ‘culinary ideas’ from China, India, and North America.
The second feature that characterized the cuisine of the Great Britain included migration and colonization processes, in which the country had been involved for years. The 20th century brought immigrants from India, Pakistan, and other Asian countries to Britain. Moreover, its last decade made a contribution to the appearance of the huge number of visitors from Eastern Europe. In fact, until the last 20-30 years, English cuisine fiercely resisted the outside influence. In the opinion of the French, the nearest neighbors of the English, the country remained dull and conservative. Their cuisine has evolved on its own under the influence of the industrial revolution and through the expansion of the colonies. However, the majority of the population remained in the firm belief that there is no need to change what was all right for their fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers. Regardless of this fact, culinary history of England is fascinating, especially when it is viewed in historical perspective, so that the emergence of various culinary trends is linked to the changes in the political or industrial sector.
The Cuisine of the USA
The development of the art of cooking in the United States is affected by many factors. It is believed that due to the Native Americans, the Indians, the largest component of the American diet is corn. The immigrants from China and Italy, as well as slaves from Africa, contributed to the formation of products that are currently consumed by Americans.
The absence of the royal court, which is the driving force for the culinary development in other countries, such as France or China, in conjunction with the stoic utilitarianism of the Puritan ethics, may have prevented the development of a refined cuisine during the first decades of the country’s existence. As a consequence, the American culinary has always lacked a driving force of the Royal Court. In France, Italy, Spain, Thailand, China, Persia, and northern India, chefs mostly drew inspiration from the need to create unique dishes for the Royal Court and express the ‘spirit of the nation’. Not only did this fact unify the culinary arts in these countries, but it also contributed to their complexity, because chefs were trying to outdo each other in their efforts to obtain the approval of the royals. However, the willingness to accept and modify new dishes, which were introduced by waves of immigration over the decades, provided a rich variety of food for the dining tables of Americans and American restaurants.
The fact that the Native Americans did not create cities was also one of the factors that hindered the development of gastronomy in the USA. As time has shown, only a close cooperation within a large urban space has beneficial effects on the culinary arts and leads to their development.
A significant role in the development of the American cuisine was played by slaves and former slaves in Charleston, North Carolina, because this city was the largest port, in which people traded spices. Slaves and former slaves occupied a prominent place in the gastronomic life of New Orleans, thus, participating in the formation of one of the most distinct regional cuisines of America. Besides, in the southern part of the USA they also used braziers to prepare barbecue, thereby helping to create one of the most significant American contributions to the world cuisine. The spread of all these gastronomic activities was achieved by immigrants, who arrived in the south-eastern regions of the USA. At the same time the tastes of Mexican Indians and Spanish settlers influenced the culinary art of Texas and New Mexico. All these reasons served as a basis for the US cuisine development.
In conclusion, the paper has discussed the development of the gastronomic habits and cuisines of France, Great Britain, and the USA. The most important aspects that made a significant contribution to the elaboration of food habits and diets in these countries are their geographic location and important stages of historic development. The latter factor includes immigration and colonization processes, which tended to enrich the cuisines of the mentioned countries. Moreover, the development of the British and American cuisines was affected by the impact of French diet and philosophy.