Another look behind the legends from Paul Andruss on his blog. This time a woman who those of us who cook have reason to bless… the woman who invented the Bain-Marie and ensures the success of custard and other delicate recipes that require some gentle finesse in the preparation. And you will not believe the story…….
Cooks know a Bain-Marie is a ‘double boiler’, a water-bath used for delicate cooking such as making custard. The ingredients are placed in a bowl and gently heated over a pan of boiling water, or individual dishes are stood in a tray of water that is put in the oven.
Bain Marie is French for ‘Mary’s Bath’ and you won’t be surprised to know that it was invented by a woman called Mary, or Mary the Jew to be exact. In bygone days, folks were punctilious in their racism. What may surprise you was Mary was not a celebrity kosher chef but an alchemist.
None of her works survive. She is only known from quotes in a compendium of writings called the Book of Hermetic Lore. These were fragments from different alchemy treatise put together in the 7th or 8th century in Constantinople.
Find out more about this mysterious woman who introduced this very useful piece of kitchen equipment into our lives: http://www.paul-andruss.com/mary-the-jew/
You can find Paul’s amazing posts that have featured here in this directory.