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The Physiology of Taste: Or, Transcendental Gastronomy

The Physiology of Taste: Or, Transcendental Gastronomy

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The Physiology of Taste: Or, Transcendental Gastronomy

valutazioni:
4/5 (102 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
424 pagine
4 ore
Pubblicato:
Oct 16, 2012
ISBN:
9781449428310
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

 Perhaps the most influential food writer of his day, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s gastronomic essays are founding documents in the food-writing genre. This great classic of gastronomy is a witty and authoritative compendium on the art of dining, and it has never been out of print since first publication in 1825. The philosophy of Epicurus stands behind every page, and the simplest meal satisfied Brillat-Savarin, as long as it was executed with artistry.

 The sometimes wordy text is filled with aphorisms and axioms, and it has been endlessly analyzed and quoted. In a series of meditations that have the rhythm of an age of leisured reading and the confident pursuit of educated pleasures. Brillant-Savarin expounds on the delights of eating, which he considers a science, with witty anecdotes and observations such as:“Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.”“A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.”“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”“The pleasure of the table belongs to all ages, to all conditions, to all countries, and to all eras; it mingles with all other pleasures, and remains at last to console us for their departure.” This edition of The Physiology of Taste was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.
Pubblicato:
Oct 16, 2012
ISBN:
9781449428310
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) held several notable positions including lawyer, teacher and politician. Yet, he’s best known for his passion and promotion of the culinary arts. Born in France, Brillat-Savarin studied highbrow subjects like medicine and law but was captivated by cooking. In an effort to elevate gastronomy, he released his most famous work--Physiology of Taste. Published in 1825, it was the first book of its kind to explore the mental, physical and emotional connection of food.

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The Physiology of Taste - Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

names.

PREFACE.

IN offering to the public the work I now produce, I have undertaken no great labor. I have only put in order materials I had collected long ago. The occupation was an amusing one, which I reserved for my old age.

When I thought of the pleasures of the table, under every point of view, I saw that something better than a common cookery book could be made out of it, and that much might be said about essential and continuous things, which have a direct influence on health, happiness, and even on business.

When I had once gotten hold of the idea, all the rest came naturally. I looked around, took notes, and amidst the most sumptuous festivals looked at the guests. Thus I escaped many of the dangers of conviviality.

To do what I have undertaken, one need not be a physician, chemist, physiologist, or even a savant. All I learned, I learned without the least idea that I would ever be an author. I was impressed by a laudable curiosity, by the fear of remaining behind my century, and by an anxiety to be able to sit at table on equal terms with the savants I used to meet.

I am essentially an amateur medecin, and this to me is almost a mania. Among the happiest days of my life, when with the Professors, I went to hear the thesis of Doctor Cloquet; I was delighted when I heard the murmur of the students’ voices, each of whom asked who was the foreign professor who honored the College with his presence.

One other day is, I think, almost as dear to me. I refer to the meeting of the society for the encouragement of national industry, when I presented the irrorator, an instrument of my own invention, which is neither more nor less than a forcing pump filled with perfumes.

I had an apparatus fully charged in my pocket. I turned the cock, and thence pressed out a perfume which filled the whole room.

Then I saw, with inexpressible pleasure, the wisest heads of the capital bend beneath my irrigation, and I was glad to see that those who received most, were the happiest.

Thinking sometimes of the grave lucubrations to which I was attracted by my subject, I really was afraid that I would be troublesome. I have often read very stupid books.

I did all that I could to escape this reproach. I have merely hovered over subjects which presented themselves to me; I have filled my book with anecdotes, some of which to a degree are personal. I have omitted to mention many strange and singular things, which critical judgment induced me to reject, and I recalled popular attention to certain things which savants seemed to have reserved to themselves. If, in spite of all these efforts, I have not presented to my readers a science rarely understood, I shall sleep just as calmly, being certain that the majority will acquit me of all evil intention.

It may perhaps be said that sometimes I wrote too rapidly, and that sometimes I became garrulous. Is it my fault that I am old? Is it my fault that, like Ulysses, I have seen the manners and customs of many cities? Am I therefore blamable for writing a little bit of autobiography? Let the reader, however, remember that I do not inflict my political memoirs on him, which he would have to read, as he has many others, since during the last thirty years I have been exactly in the position to see great men and great things.

Let no one assign me a place among compilers; had I been reduced thus low, I would have laid down my pen, and would not have lived less happily.

I said, like Juvenal:

Semper ego auditor tantum! nunquamne reponam!

and those who know me will easily see that used to the tumult of society and to the silence of the study, I had to take advantage of both one and the other of these positions.

I did too many things which pleased me particularly; I was able to mention many friends who did not expect me to do so, and recalled some pleasant, memories; I seized on others which would have escaped, and, as we say familiarly, took my coffee.

It may be a single reader may in some category exclaim,—— I wished to know if ——. What was he thinking of, etc., etc. I am sure, though, the others will make him be silent and receive with kindness the effusions of a praiseworthy sentiment.

I have something to say about my style, which, as Buffon says, is all the man.

Let none think I come to ask for a favor which is never granted to those who need it. I wish merely to make an explanation.

I should write well, for Voltaire, Jean Jacques, Fenelon, Buffon, and Cochin and Aguesseau were my favorite authors. I knew them by heart.

It may be though, that the gods ordered otherwise; if so, this is the cause of the will of the gods.

I know five languages which now are spoken, which gives me an immense refectory of words.

When I need a word and do not find it in French, I select it from other tongues, and the reader has either to understand or translate me. Such is my fate.

I could have acted otherwise, but was prevented by a kind of system to which I was invincibly attached.

I am satisfied that the French language which I use is comparatively poor. What could I do? Either borrow or steal.

I did neither, for such borrowings, cannot be restored, though to steal words is not punishable by the penal code.

Any one may form an idea of my audacity when I say I applied the Spanish word volante to any one I had sent on an errand, and that I had determined to gallicise the English word TO SIP, which means to drink in small quantities. I however dug out the French word siroter, which expresses nearly the same thing.

I am aware the purists will appeal to Bosseux, to Fenelon, Raceri, Boilleau, Pascal, and others of the reign of Louis XIV. I fancy I hear their clamor.

To all this I reply distinctly, that I do not depreciate the merit of those authors; but what follows? Nothing, except that if they played well on an inferior instrument, how much better would they have done on a superior one. Therefore, we may believe that Tartini would have played on the violin far better than he did, if his bow had been long as that of Baillot.

I do not belong to the neologues or even to the romanticists; the last are discoverers of hidden treasures, the former are like sailors who go about to search for provisions they need.

The people of the North, and especially the English, have in this respect an immense advantage over us. Genius is never restricted by the want of expression, which is either made or created. Thus it is that of all subjects which demand depth and energy, our translations make but pale and dull infusions.

Once I heard at the institute a pleasant discourse on the danger of neologism, and on the necessity of maintaining our language as it was when the authors of the great century wrote.

"Like a chemist, I sifted the argument and ascertained that it meant:

We have done so well, that we neither need nor can do better.

Now; I have lived long enough to know that each generation has done as much, and that each one laughs at his grandfather.

Besides, words must change, when manners and ideas undergo perpetual modifications. If we do things as the ancients did, we do not do them in the same manner. There are whole pages in many French books, which cannot be translated into Latin or Greek.

All languages had their birth, their apogee and decline. None of those which have been famous from the days of Sesostris to that of Philip Augustus, exist except as monuments. The French will have the same fate, and in the year 2825 if read, will be read with a dictionary.

I once had a terrible argument on this matter with the famous M. Andrieux, at the Academie Française.

I made my assault in good array, I attacked him vigorously, and would have beaten him had he not made a prompt retreat, to which I opposed no obstacle, fortunately for him, as he was making one letter of the new lexicon.

I end by one important observation, for that reason I have kept it till the last.

When I write of me in the singular, I gossip with my reader, he may examine, discuss, doubt or laugh; but when I say WE I am a professor, and all must bow to me.

"I am, Sir Oracle,

And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark."

Merchant of Venice.

PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE.

MEDITATION FIRST

THE SENSES.

THE senses are the organs by which man places himself in connexion with exterior objects.

NUMBER OF THE SENSES.

1. They are at least six—

Sight, which embraces space, and tells us by means of light, of the existence and of the colors of the bodies around us.

Hearing, which, by the motion of the air, informs us of the motion of sounding or vibrating bodies.

Scent, by means of which we are made aware of the odors bodies possess.

Taste, which enables us to distinguish all that has a flavor from that which is insipid.

Touch informs us of the consistency and resistance of bodies.

The last is genesiac or physical love, which attracts the sexes to each other, and the object of which is the reproduction of the species.

It is astonishing that, almost to the days of Buffon, so important a sense was misunderstood, and was confounded with the touch.

Yet the sensation of which it is the seat, has nothing in common with touch; it resides in an apparatus as complete as the mouth or the eyes, and what is singular is that each sex has all that is needed to experience the sensation; it is necessary that the two should be united to reach nature’s object. If the taste, the object of which is the preservation of the individual, be incontestibly a sense, the same title must indubitably be preserved on the organs destined to the preservation of the species.

Let us then assign to the genesiac the sensual place which cannot be refused to it, and let us leave to posterity the assignment of its peculiar rank.

ACTION OF THE SENSES.

If we were permitted, even in imagination, to refer to the first moments of the existence of the human race, we would believe that the first sensations were direct; that is to say that all saw confusedly and indirectly, smelled without care, ate without tasting, etc.

The centre of all these sensations, however, being the soul, the sensual attribute of humanity and active cause of perfectibility, they are reflected, compared, and judged by it; the other senses then come to the assistance of each other, for the utility and well-being of the sensitive; one or individual.

Thus touch rectifies the errors of sight; sound, by means of articulate speech, becomes the interpreter of every sentiment; taste is aided by sight and smell; hearing compares sounds, appreciates distance; and the genesiac sense takes possession of the organs of all the senses.

The torrent of centuries rolling over the human race, has continually brought new perfections, the cause of which, ever active though unseen, is found in the demands made by our senses, which always in their turns demand to be occupied.

Sight thus gave birth to painting, to sculpture, and to spectacles of every kind.

Sound, to melody, harmony, to the dance, and to music in all its branches, and means of execution.

Smell, to the discovery, manufacture and use of perfumes.

Taste, to the production, choice and preparation of all that is used for food.

Touch, to all art, trades and occupations.

The genesiac sense, to all which prepares or embellishes the reunion of senses, and, subsequently to the days of François I., to romantic love, to coquetry, which originated in France and obtained its name there, and from which the élite of the world, collected in the capital of the universe, take their lessons every day.

This proposition, strange as it seems, is very susceptible of demonstration; we cannot express with clearness in any ancient language, ideas about these three great motives of actual society.

I had written a dialogue on this subject, but suppressed it for the purpose of permitting the reader, each in his own way, to think of the matter for himself. There is enough to occupy the mind and display intelligence and erudition during a whole evening.

We said above, that the genesiac sense took possession of the organs of all the others; the influence it has exerted over all sciences is not less. When we look closer, we will find that all that is most delicate and ingenious is due to the desire, to hope, or to gratitude, in connexion with the union of the sexes.

Such is, indeed, the genealogy of the senses, even the most abstract ones, all being the immediate result of continuous efforts made to gratify our senses.

PERFECTNESS OF THE SENSES.

These senses, our favorites, are far from being perfect, and I will not pause to prove it. I will only observe, that that ethereal sense—sight, and touch, which is at the other extremity of the scale, have from time acquired a very remarkable additional power.

By means of spectacles the eye, so to say, escapes from the decay of age, which troubles almost all the other organs.

The telescope has discovered stars hitherto unknown and inaccessible to all our means of mensuration; it has penetrated distances so great, that luminous and necessarily immense bodies present themselves to us only like nebulous and almost imperceptible

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  • (5/5)
    MFK Fisher's translation of this classic work. I've never read the original French but I love this book.
  • (5/5)
    Finished reading [The Physiology of Taste] by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. What a delightful book! I feel like I've been enjoying the company of the character Maurice Chevalier played in the movie [Gigi]. Had to be careful at work translating one of the Latin bits. Brillat-Savarin loved to play with words and there were several "nudge-nudge, wink-wink moments, such as this passage: "A host of the Chaussée-d'Antin had an Arlesian sausage of heroic proportions presented at his table. "Please accept a slice of it," he urged the lady next to him. "Here is a piece of equipment which, I hope, implies a well-furnished establishment." "It is truly enormous," the lady said, peering at it with lewd mischief, "What a pity that it does not resemble anything!"His wit and charm are on every page; most likely due to the fact that it was translated by [[M.F.K. Fisher]]. Her "Translator's Glosses" are every bit as charming and fun as the text. Written (or rather published) in 1825, he says very little about the Revolution which he lived through. He does have a few anecdotes from his time spent in America during his exile, and one remembrance in the "Varieties" section of his flight from France. For the most part though, this is a collection of his thoughts on food and health and good living. I was pretty amazed how the diet for health that The Professor promoted was very like our Paleo diet, and there are several recipes for what amounts to bone broth. Everything old is new again.
  • (2/5)
    Notable for his passage of the Gastronomic Tests. And for being completely wrong on Osmazone.