Also known as the grandes sauces, (béchamel, sauce espagnole, mayonnaise, sauce tomate and velouté) are the cinq sauces mères—the five (generally accepted) mother sauces, each categorized according to its base and thickener. Many think hollandaise should be there too (or instead of mayonnaise).
The canonical five were first listed in the English edition of Auguste Escoffier’s Le guide culinaire, A Guide to Modern Cookery in 1907. In the original French, hollandaise was a sauce dérivée or daughter sauce.
Marie Antoine Carême came up with the first list in 1833, which included four (sauce allemande along with béchamel, espagnole and velouté). Another chef, Jules Gouffé came up with a dozen in his book in 1867. But it’s Escoffier’s five that have become canonical.
Images by Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, D.R.