Dining and drinking commandments
Excerpt from The Physiology of Taste, by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, widely considered the first great essayists in the area of gastronomy, published this most famous work in France in 1825. While some of the book’s introductory aphorisms strike a humourous note today, there’s no doubt some wisdom that still applies.
APHORISMS OF THE PROFESSOR
To serve as prolegomena to his work and eternal basis to the science
I. The universe would be nothing were it not for life and all that lives must be fed.
II. Animals fill themselves; man eats. The man of mind alone knows how to eat.
III. The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.
IV. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.
V. The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.
VI. Gourmandise is an act of our judgment, in obedience to which, we grant a preference to things which are agreeable, over those which have not that quality.
VII. The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all areas; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.
VIII. The table is the only place where one does not suffer, from ennui during the first hour.
IX. The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.
X. Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.
XI. The order of food is from the most substantial to the lightest.
XII. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy and perfumed.
XIII. 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.
XIV. A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.
XV. A cook may be taught, but a man who can roast, is born with the faculty.
XVI. The most indispensable quality of a good cook is promptness.
It should also be that of the guests.
XVII. To wait too long for a dilatory guest, shows disrespect to those who are punctual.
XVIII. He who receives friends and pays no attention to the repast prepared for them, is not fit to have friends.
XIX. The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality.
XX. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof.