A mother sauce is like a continent. It is big and encompasses a lot of variation, but ultimately, all sauces lend their birth to their mother. Well, that’s the case for most sauces. Some sauces, like the gypsy coulis, are without a country or a continent. But most French sauces fall under the umbrella of one of the mother sauces. The 5 mother sauces are BETH-V, béchamel, espagnole, tomato, hollandaise and velouté.
Béchamel was the name of a man before becoming a sauce. Béchamel was a financier and chief steward to Louis XIV. During his time, many cream sauces were made by adding cream to stock; Béchamel preferred the version that started from a roux. The sauce was given his name because he was such a fan. The Duke of Escars commented, “That fellow Béchameil has all the luck! I was serving breast of chicken à la crème more than 20 years before he was born, but I have never had the chance of giving my name to even the most modest sauce.”