What Does Gourmet Cooking Mean?
To be gourmet is to love tasting. To appreciate the scent as it rises from the fork and wafts into the senses, to delight in the temperature and texture of the morsel as it first brushes your tongue. The presentation of the food is to be as pleasing to the eye as it is to the taste buds. To eat gourmet is to eat for pleasure.
The word gourmet descends from the French word “gourmont” – meaning wine-taster or broker. In the 18th century, wine merchants would require the gourmont to have a refined palette and be able to detect high-quality, delicious wines using only their senses. It is no wonder that in today’s global tasting market we are obsessed with flavor.
Gourmet cooking is more and more accessible to home chefs with the advent of refrigeration and expansion of global commerce. Ingredients that were once extremely rare in certain regions of the globe are now commonplace. Gourmet food is more accessible than ever. Home chefs are realizing that the barriers between them and gourmet cooked home meals are minimal.
What is Gourmet Food?
There is not an exact gourmet food definition. There are external factors that influence whether a dish is gourmet. Gourmet food is any food of high quality and/or rarity, crafted to deliver exquisite taste and presented in a pleasing fashion.
Ingredients that are rare or hard to cultivate on one continent, thus considered gourmet, can be common on another. Grains like quinoa, for example – common in South Africa – have begun to grace dinner plates all over the United States and Canada. Ten years ago, quinoa was considered a gourmet food in North America, and home chefs all over the country relished the opportunity to prepare it for their guests.
The French Chef Master August Escoffier believed that the stock used to flavor sauces and glazes was the cornerstone of gourmet food preparation. No sauce or dish could be made gourmet with a poorly flavored stock. Stock is a broth made with the bones of an animal as well as the traditional herbs and vegetables that are used to make a bouillon or broth. The marrow in the bones create a richness of flavor with which a boneless bouillon simply cannot compete. These stocks, used as the base of nearly every gourmet sauce, are at the core of what elevates a common meal to gourmet status.
What makes something Gourmet?
To be gourmet is to have a combination of a special or rare ingredient, to have it prepared to the utmost culinary standards, and to be presented on the plate in a beautiful offering to the diner.
A gourmet meal in the United States would not be prepared from ground Angus beef, for example, but perhaps from the finest Wagyu beef imported from Japan. This beef must then be prepared in such a way worthy of a chef instead of a line cook and then presented with flourish.
The Wagyu beef would be served with a delicious sauce, drizzled just so, with a wealth of flavor in each bite. Fortunately, home chefs do not have to prepare these stocks and sauces from the animal bones themselves in modern kitchens. What was once days or hours standing over stockpots, reducing ingredients to the smallest molecules of flavor, no longer needs to take hours of one’s time.
Classic Gourmet Cooking Examples
The German Sauerbraten dish is traditionally based around marinated and braised short-ribs. A marinade is made from vinegar, wine and onion. The meat is marinated for 24 hours. Then, the onions are removed and combined with a marinade and glace and braised until the meat is falling apart. After braising, the remaining cooking liquid is turned into a delicious sauce that includes the meat drippings, wine, and gingersnaps – adding sweetness to the sour taste of the original marinade. What once would have included hours making the glace used to braise the meat is now reduced to the time it takes to prepare the meal.
Lemon Dill Salmon
In gourmet seafood dishes, lemon is king. Traditionally, a chef would painstakingly prepare a perfect sauce du Fruits de Mer (Fruit of the Sea) to use as the base of a lemon dill sauce. The seafood is steamed using fish stock, wine and lemon juice, and then served with a lemon dill cream sauce. This sauce is usually a combination of butter, lemon and cream with a mixture of herbs and spices. Today, home chefs have delicious Glace de Fruits de Mer at their fingertips, recreating the intense flavors of the classic lemon dill seafood dishes in much less time. There is a great way for home chefs to make these gourmet meals and save precious time.
More Than Gourmet
More than gourmet is a culinary company dedicated to bringing the classic gourmet flavors into home chef’s dishes. Using classic French gourmet recipes from French Chef Master August Escoffier, these shelf-stable reductions are available with no preservatives and can be used in authentic gourmet food preparation.
Stocks and Demi-Glace of many varieties are available at their online store, as are many gourmet recipes and techniques. These reductions are the base of most gourmet sauces and can be the difference between a decent meal and a gourmet one.