Heist (aliasheist) wrote in little_details,

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18th-century French culinary tech

This is for a fantasy world, so I can fudge a lot, but for all practical purposes I'm basing it on 1730s France. My main character is a chef, and I have realized that there's a lot I don't know.

1.) What sort of refrigeration systems were in use at this time? We're alternating between a traditional manor and an urban trading hub environment if that helps narrow anything down. All my searching comes up with chemical refrigeration and packing things in the ground, but neither are the right time period. Were cream and eggs even refrigerated at that time, or were they used fresh and not stored for long at all?

2.) Ovens. I am assuming masonry ovens, more likely brick, and therefore highly dependent on a hot fire to get anywhere, but would the type of oven differ from manor to city-home to castle? Just based on the differing time periods (as far as a century apart) in which these would have been built, I suspect that it might influence the style. And what was the protocol on those fires? Were they the same as the hearth fire or separate, and were either (if separate) ever allowed to go out?

3.) Seasonings, spices, herbs, etc. Due to the presence of magic, I can yet again fudge what I need, but what herbs and spices were generally unknown in France at that time? I know some particularly potently hot spices were circulating in the Eastern Mediterranean, but how prevalent were they? My character has a mixed-French/Greek heritage, so we can assume she's familiar with things that didn't make the standard family table, but is there anything she would be surprised by if it were served to her?

4.) Lastly, were women even allowed to be chefs in France then? Not just cook, we are talking trained professional. King Louis XV was opposed, but did he completely dictate such things? I don't want to cheerfully run around assuming unmarried women of non-noble birth were allowed to do what they wanted. I need to in any case, but I'd just like to know so I can maybe put in a clever bias against them.

Search parameters: refrigeration, refrigeration technology, refrigeration techniques, french ovens, 18th century ovens, french herbs, french seasonings, gender profession, women chefs 18th century. Any help would be marvelous!

Tags: 1700s (no decades given), france: food and drink, france: history

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