While now known primarily for his food writing, Brillat-Savarin spent most of his adult life as a politician serving in various cities and offices. At one point he was forced to flee the country during the French Revolution. However, he returned and lived out his life in France, and died in Writing about Brillat-Savarin while enjoying a good cup of coffee.
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Let not the number of the company exceed twelve, that the conversation may be constantly general. Athenaeus: Still very good advice if your intention is to have a dinner party conducive to a catholic dialogue.
Let them be so selected that their occupations are various, and their tastes analogous, and with such points of contact that there will be no need for the odious formality of presentations. Athenaeus: This is good advice for all manner of parties.
If the assembled persons are all of a similar interest it is not so much a party as a convention or meeting. Let the dining-room be well lighted, the cloth spotless, and the atmosphere at a temperature from degrees C degrees F. Athenaeus: I think central heating has made us accostomed to a room a bit warmer than this. Let the men have wit without pretension, and the women be pleasant without being coquettes. Let the dishes be exceedingly choice, but few in number; and the wines of the highest quality each in its degree.
Let the order of service be from the more substantial dishes to the lighter, and the simpler wines to the most perfumed.
Athenaeus: This is a foreign concept for an American palette, but a novel idea. Have you ever served, or been served your courses from meat to fish to salad to dessert? Let the meal proceed without undue haste, since dinner is the last business of the day; and let the guests consider themselves as travellers about to reach a shared destination together. Let the coffee be hot, and the liquors chosen with special care. Athenaeus: Not much to be said here.
Let the drawing room be large enough to admit a game of cards for those who cannot do without it, while leaving ample room for post-prandial conversation.
Athenaeus: An after dinner game is certainly the easy way to amuse your guests, though a stimulating conversation over coffee and after dinner drinks is certainly the ideal. Let the guest be detained by the charms of society, and animated by the hope that the evening will yet develop.
Athenaeus: A polite warning against boredom. Let the tea not be too strong, the toast skillfully buttered, and the punch carefully prepared. Athenaeus: This is tradition I was previously unaware of and do not anticipate the resecutation of. Athenaeus: A good general rule for host and guest alike. Brillat-Savarin, while not a chef, has been one of the most influential food writers of all time.
In his view, if you put a well-prepared dish in front of someone, how he or she reacted told you not whether the dish was good or not because you already knew that it was , but rather how educated the person was. In his mind, excellence was not based on what the French court might say, or what celebrity chefs might dictate, but rather on the intrinsic quality of ingredients prepared with care.
Aphorisms of the Professor. The universe would be nothing were it not for life and all that lives must be fed. Animals fill themselves; man eats. The man of mind alone knows how to eat. The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are. The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure. Gourmandise is an act of our judgment, in obedience to which, we grant a preference to things which are agreeable, over those which nave not that quality.
The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all aeras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure. The table is the only place where one does not suffer, from ennui during the first hour. The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.
Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking. The order of food is from the most substantial to the lightest. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy and perfumed. To say that we should not change our drinks is a heresy; the tongue becomes saturated, and after the third glass yields but an obtuse sensation. A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.
A cook may be taught, but a man who can roast, is born with the faculty. The most indispensable quality of a good cook is promptness. It should also be that of the guests. To wait too long for a dilatory guest, shows disrespect to those who are punctual. He who receives friends and pays no attention to the repast prepared for them, is not fit to have friends.
The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof. Link to the online edition of the classical book:.
The Physiology of Taste
He studied law , chemistry and medicine in Dijon in his early years and later practiced law in his hometown. In , at the opening of the French Revolution , he was sent as a deputy to the Estates-General that soon became the National Constituent Assembly , where he acquired some limited fame, particularly for a public speech in defense of capital punishment. His father Marc Anthelme adopted his second surname in upon the death of an aunt named Savarin who left him her entire fortune on the condition that he adopt her name. He returned to Belley and was for a year the elected mayor.
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Let not the number of the company exceed twelve, that the conversation may be constantly general. Athenaeus: Still very good advice if your intention is to have a dinner party conducive to a catholic dialogue. Let them be so selected that their occupations are various, and their tastes analogous, and with such points of contact that there will be no need for the odious formality of presentations. Athenaeus: This is good advice for all manner of parties.
The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy