A Landmark in the Development of French Cuisine

COOKING. FOOD & DRINK. Massialot, François, (ca. 1660-1733)

Le nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois : qui apprend a ordonner toute sorte de repas en gras & en maigre, & la meilleure maniere des ragoûts les plus délicats & les plus à la mode, & toutes sortes de pâtisseries : avec des nouveaux desseins de tables ... [3 volumes].

Paris: Claude Prudhomme, 1733 [and] 1730


Duodecimo: : 16.1 x 9.8 cm. Vol. I: a2, e4, A-Vv8/4, Xx2. [and 11 added plates] Vol. II: π1, A-Z8/4, Aa-Xx8/4. Vol. III: π2, A-Z8/4, Aa-Hh8/4, Ii2 [and 12 added plates]


Bound in contemporary sprinkled calf, spines richly tooled in gold, with labels (some wear to extremities, minor defects to leather, corners bumped.) Very nice copies internally, the woodcut plates and text crisp. George Baillie (1664-1738), Scottish politician and parliamentarian, armorial bookplates dated 1724. 

First published as a single volume in 1691 and enlarged to two volumes in 1712, this three-volume set, printed by Prudhomme, comprises the first two volumes of the 1733-4 edition and the third of the 1730-1 edition. It is clearly a “mixed” rather than “married” set.  The bindings are contemporary and perfectly matched, complete with volume numbers on the spines. The 1730-1 edition was the first in three volumes. Cagle (Matter of taste, no. 318) erroneously calls the 1733-4 edition the first to include the third volume. 

The number of plates in different copies of the two editions vary. This set has 11 plates in the first volume and 12 in the third, for a total of 23. For the 1733-4 edition Cagle calls for only 9 plates in the first volume and 13 in the third, for a total of 22. The set of the 1730-1 edition in the Szathmary Collection at University of Iowa (the only complete set I have traced), has only 8 plates in the first volume and 13 in the third, for a total of 21.

"Le cuisinier roial et bourgeois"

"François Massialot was at home in all three culinary métiers: cuisine, pâtisserie, and confectionery, which made him a rarity in any generation in any country. Even today, only a few outstanding cooks are equally proficient in the patient exactitude demanded by pastry and sugar work and the hurly burly of savory cooking, and in the days of the open fire, mastering both disciplines was even more difficult… 

"The same classic preparations that appeared in the books of Lune and La Varenne turned up forty years later, modernized and refined in Massialot's 'Le cuisinier roial et bourgeois' (The Royal and Bourgeois Cook, 1691) and 'Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures, les liqueurs, et les fruits' (New Instruction for Preserves, Liqueurs, and Fruits, 1692). Massialot's originality of presentation and voice of authority confirmed him as a worthy successor to La Varenne and Lune, destined to influence cooks well into the next century. By this time, many recipes were standardized, using similar, though not necessarily identical, ingredients and steps. Massialot extended the culinary structure already defined as French, building in recipes that were to become classics, many of them still familiar, such as bisque d'écrevissesboeuf à la moderagoût de champignons, and a crème brûlée with more than a page of instruction that not could not be bettered today… 

"Massialot was also the first cookbook author to present his information as a dictionary, a concise, easy-to-reference style that became popular among Enlightenment writers in the eighteenth century. Early editions of 'Le cuisinier roial et bourgeois' give lists of potages, entrees, and entremets, streamed alphabetically without seasonal distinctions. Massialot also moved beyond the aide-mémoire style of La Varenne and Lune to write recipes in substantial detail…

"Massialot belonged to the sought-after group of independent Parisian cooks who catered to an impressive clientele, including the royal family. His opening menus in 'Le cuisinier roial et bourgeois' served both to advertise and endorse his skills. For example, his staggering menu for 'Grand Repast in the month of May' consists of two gigantesque courses and requires a minimum of 128 serving dishes plus individual plates for the diners. Eighteen cooks and stewards with eighteen aides were needed in the kitchen to prepare the meal, and the batterie de cuisine included sixty small casseroles, ten large round casseroles, ten small round casseroles, ten large marmites (cauldrons), ten small marmites, and thirty spits for roasting meats. Even the wealthiest Parisian residence would hardly have had all these items hand, confirming that such a feast would require a caterer. A smart businessman, Massialot added the snobbish detail that this meal was hosted at Sceaux, just outside Paris, by the marquis de Seignelai, son of the king's minister Colbert, for "Monsieur and Madame" (the king's brother and his wife) and many distinguished guests."(Willan, The Cookbook Library, p. 168 ff.)

See Cagle, Matter of taste (2nd ed.), no. 318, who erroneously calls the 1733-4 edition the first to include the 3rd volume. Not in Oberlé, Les Fastes de Bacchus et de Comus.