The Conversation — “My research on the history of French home cooking reveals how restyling dinner scraps first became fashionable more than a century ago,” writes Samantha Presnal, a fellow in the College’s Center for Humanistic Inquiry.
“In 19th-century France, leftovers were a way of life for the lower classes,” she continues. “Because of their association with poverty, leftovers were stigmatized up until the late 19th century. But by the turn of the 20th century, it had become hip to whip something up with the remains from last night’s meal.”
Presnal quotes from an 1892 “encyclopedic cookbook” called 150 Ways to Accommodate Leftovers, and presents the book’s recipe for “Turkey en fricasée.” “In the 1890s top chefs also started to contribute recipes to domestic cooking magazines,” she notes, giving several examples. She explains how “culinary literature proliferated in the late 19th century during a period of rapid growth for the popular press,” which was also an era of increasing literacy and home-economics education for girls across France: young women were “taught that their talent for accommodating leftovers was a reflection of their thrift and resourcefulness—the markers of middle-class French femininity.”