Pique Seasoning

Questions and Answers – Pique Seasoning

 

Question:

I have a copy of The Gold Cook Book by Louis P. DeGouy and am reading it through.  It has a lot of nice information, both historical and culinary.  It is copyrighted 1948.

One problem I have though, is that many of his recipes include the ingredient – “Pique Seasoning.”  Is this something like Kitchen Bouquet?  I cannot find a definition on the ‘net.’  DeGouy doesn’t explain it and uses the term as though it is common knowledge.  If you can tell me what this is, it would be a great help to me.  DeGouy uses it in a great many of his recipes. T hank you very much.  – Chez Phill (10/28/01)

 

 

Answer: 

Below is an explanation of mid-1900s Pique Seasoning, based on the de Gouy cookbook, with a bit of modern international context added.  Information and comments provided by Max Hauser (8/3/16) 

In his large and comprehensive “Gold Cook Book” (1947, enlarged and revised edition 1948, reprinted 1974 by Galahad Books as ISBN 0883652234), Louis Pullig de Gouy sometimes calls for Pique Seasoning (or, as in one pot-roast recipe, “1 tablespoon of Worcestershire or Pique Seasoning”).  De Gouy is not the only mid-1900s U.S. recipe source to recommend Pique, but in this book he uses it frequently, describing it as a well-known product.  He also includes an explanation of Pique (in a separate “General Information” chapter), summarized below.  I believe that’s the source of other, similarly-phrased Pique explanations I’ve seen online that do not credit de Gouy.  Pique Seasoning would today be called a meatless liquid flavor enhancer or umami condiment.

“Made of vegetable protein derivatives, water, salt, yeast, vegetable extract, spices and vegetable fat,” Pique is “widely used in cooking as a flavor amplifier. . . its sole purpose is to emphasize” natural food flavors. “Used sparingly in gravies, sauces, soups, meats, stews, goulashes, hashes, poultry, fish and meat loaves, hamburgers, stuffings, game or cooked salad dressings. It is valuable for replacing the meat or vegetable stocks frequently demanded in good cuisine. . . many chefs and cooks look upon Pique as the father of liquid condiments.” (Gold Cook Book, reprint edition, P. 1006)

De Gouy also writes that one teaspoon of Pique will make a cup of instant broth.  That’s similar to the strengths of many modern commercial meat and meatless stock bases, including yeast extracts (Marmite, Vegemite). Ingredients similar to those cited for Pique appear in commercial gravy enhancers and the flavor-enhancing ingredients incorporated in many processed foods.  All of that, in turn, is part of a worldwide body of umami condiments that also includes Japanese seaweeds, misos, and bonito flakes; Chinese fermented bean pastes; Asian soy sauces and fish sauces; and, yes, good old Anglo-American Worcestershire sauce.  Common to all such products is their concentration of naturally occurring chemicals that enhance flavors, specifically glutamates, guanylates, and (in fish-based products) inosinates.

 

 

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