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Cookery analysed


Cookery analysed

Making sense of cooking

within the context of food preparation


Cookery and cuisine are not the same.  Cuisine is a wider term and gastronomy is even wider.  Cookery is part of food preparation.  Discuss.


The triple-layered heading to this page reminds us that we eat raw and cooked food. [Many items within the two categories are part of food  preparation.]  

There are food items which are "more than raw" but, to some, may not rank as being cooked.  Dried fruit which arrive with such names as currants come to mind.  Smoked food items also fall into this further category.  There is a difference between them, however.  Currants could have been dried naturally by the sun.  Smoked items demand more intelligence.  Smoked salmon needs a chamber of special form and thought given to the means of producing the smoke. 

Within the era of haute cuisine, its clientele would have eaten "braised lettuce".  Most of us eat lettuce raw after washing it.  That is a simple example of food preparation.  The advanced forms of cookery, to some, come within the term "food preparation".

Lettuce are, and carrots etc  might be eaten raw.  Milk straight from the cow can be consumed without anything being done to it but, normally, it is processed. Extreme forms of processed food include frozen pizza and canned beef stew. Between raw and processed, there are other groups of activity relating to food.

We have looked at ready-to-eat raw food and now progress to inedible raw food.  Today's fresh chicken can be put in the deep-freeze.  This renders it preserved.  Today's fresh mushrooms can be chopped and dried.  Two months later, we might eat them in the dried state without too much harm but it would make better sense to cook them.  These two commodities, then, can be called "inedible preserved food".  They are not "processed food" items.   

Our original currants and smoked salmon have been through a preservation process.  If we term the category "edible preserved food", we need to remember that there is canning and other preservation methods such as vacuum-packing which also enable food to be eaten after it would otherwise have rotted.  We will re-use the term "processed food" to cover these and not include them in this analysis of cooking.   

This far in the analysis, we have: 

  raw food 

  inedible preserved food we can use the abbreviation IPF on another page

  edible preserved food  we can use the abbreviation EPFs on another page

  processed food  which we are discounting

  cooked food 


We now look at some cookery and preserving methods and use them in verb form.  The descriptions are kept to a minimum and, mainly, exclude seasoning and other flavourings.  Readers of this website live within various cultures and some terms may be new to them. 

boil - place item in a pan, cover with water, heat the pan from below and boil the item    
          until cooked

stew - seal small pieces in a small amount of fat, cover with a thickened liquid and heat 
            the pan from below

braise - same as stew and with larger pieces - cook in an oven

poach - place item in a liquid just below boiling and cook in pan from below or in an oven

steam - place items in a steam chamber or in a container over steam [ie in a pan of 
              boiling water and less effectively]

brine - larger pieces than in marination in a salt-water solution - cool environment              

grill - place items on grill-bars or a tray under a grill

gratinate - as grill, on a tray or similar, cover with cheese or breadcrumbs

oven-roast - place large items such as meat joints on a trivet [a metal stand] and cook in
                      an oven 
                   - place small items on a tray and cook in an oven

spit-roast -   place large items such as meat joints on a spit picture over a fire

pot-roast - place smaller items than seen in spit-roast in a pan with a lid and cook in an oven

dry - place small items on a tray, larger items on bars etc and place in the sun or 
         otherwise hot place until air content is significantly reduced

deep-fry - lower small to medium items into very hot fat - usually oil

sauté - toss small items in [also into] very hot oil or other fat [[the verb is sauter -             French for to jump]]

souse  - for example - soused herrings - rolled fillets plus onion, carrot and vinegar oven-
              baked and served cold 

pickled items include swede,carrots, onions, cauliflower and gherkins preserved in a
             sauce made from vinegar, tomato, apple and dates with spices such as mustard, 
             coriander, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and cayenne pepper.

marinate - probably small items in a covered container allowing flavourings to soak in in a cool environment 


On a scale very hot to cold, these terms can be placed in columns: 

Very hot                                               deep-fry           Miscellaneous
    grill saute  
Boiling boil      
Warm   dry    
  brine     souse



oil or other fat


The highest temperature medium is deep-fry.

The "medium" row indicates the dominating factor.  "To boil", for example,  is dominated by water. The stew  is cooked in a pan from underneath and anything braised is cooked in an oven.  Notice that, in the chart, braise almost wants to be in the air column.  However, the item which surrounds the meat is a liquid. 

Roasting and grilling are achieved within hot air.   

Souse, pickle and marinate can involve heat and have been placed low in the column on the right as they are cold at the point of use. 

There is a large range of other cookery terms which we do not need at present.

Brine is not so much an example of a cookery term as it is a preservation technique.


Why have the cookery terms been placed in columns?  It helps unravel the culinary triangle and culinary pyramid which follow.  The colours used at the foot of the table for "medium" are significant. 


If you have already seen Part 1 of this section of the website, you are aware of the 1967 and 1984 contexts of the treatment.  Going back to the earlier era, this list of cookery terms appeared in the first text book written for those [mainly in the UK] being trained for what is now known as the hospitality industry:

1    Boiling 
2    Poaching     
3    Steaming     
4    Stewing
5    Braising       
6    Pot roasting (Poêlé)    
7    Roasting
8    Baking
9    Grilling
10  Frying (deep and shallow)
11  Paper Bag (en papillotte)
12  Microwave

Your eyes remain on the last item and you wonder why it was not on the previous list.  

Read this definition of cookery:

The object of cooking food is to make it pleasing to the eye and receptive to the palate in order to help stimulate the digestive juices, thereby creating an appetite; to render food more digestible, by physical and chemical changes and by alteration of the texture, thereby assisting mastication, and to ensure the destruction of harmful bacteria and parasites.

Both quotations come from:

Practical Cookery, Victor Ceserani and Ronald Kinton, first published 1962, Fourth Edition, 1967

Entirely appropriate for our era under discussion - 1967.

Miicrowave techniques are inappropriate to later discussion and the  techniques on the earlier list like sousing and marinating are dealt with by the two authors later in their book. 

The object of cooking food quotation is there to establish that the analytical context which follows is much wider than western society ideas of cuisine.  You will be mindful of this when you read about rotten food. 


This page began with:

Cookery and cuisine are not the same.  Cuisine is a wider term and gastronomy is even wider.  Cookery is part of food preparation.  Discuss.


Cuisine preparation

Many cultures have a recognizable cuisine, a specific set of cooking traditions using various spices or a combination of flavors unique to that culture, which evolves over time. Other differences include preferences (hot or cold, spicy, etc.) and practices, the study of which is known as gastronomy. Many cultures have diversified their foods by means of preparation, cooking methods, and manufacturing. This also includes a complex food trade which helps the cultures to economically survive by way of food, not just by consumption. Some popular types of ethnic foods include Italian, French, Japanese, Chinese, American, Cajun, Thai, and Indian cuisine. Various cultures throughout the world study the dietary analysis of food habits. While evolutionarily speaking, as opposed to culturally, humans are omnivores, religion and social constructs such as morality, activism, or environmentalism will often affect which foods they will consume. Food is eaten and typically enjoyed through the sense of taste, the perception of flavor from eating and drinking. Certain tastes are more enjoyable than others, for evolutionary purposes.  source

It is hoped that you remembered seeing the quotation on the Types of Cuisine - 1 page here [at the foot of the page].  Even better if you had used it in the discussion before seeing it again here.


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