"Bain-marie (bahn mah-REE)"
- A hot water bath that is used to keep food warm on the top of a stove. It is also to cook custards and baked eggs in the oven without curdling or cracking and also used to hold sauces and to clarify butter.
- The term is also used for a cooking utensil, which is a fairly large pan (or tray) which is partly filled with water.
The food to be cooked is placed in another container in order that the food is not cooked too quickly or harshly.
History: Most authorities think that it was named after Maria Prophetissa. Maria Prophetissa was also known as "Miriam," "Maria the Jewess" or simply "Maria" and lived during the first century A.D. She is called The Jewess because Zosimos, Egyptian alchemist and historian, called her a Sister of Moses. It is held that Mary Magdalene and the noted first century alchemical author known as Mary the Jewess was one and the same individual. Whoever she was, Mary the Jewess was an accomplished practical alchemist and the inventor of a series of technical devices still in use today, such as the hot ash box for steady heat, the dung box for prolonged heat and the double boiler, still called the "bain-marie" in French and Marienbad in German. Although no complete works by her have been found, enough fragments exist to establish her as a historical fact. Yet her personal information, even her birthplace, remains a mystery.
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