Eating: An Art for Everyone!
Words fail me. No, wait, scratch that. Let's try again. It’s not that I lack the words or any number of topics at which to employ them. Unh – uh. Got those aplenty. Today, it’s a lack of good old gumption that’s got this cat’s figurative tongue. I’ve been sitting here for the last little bit, staring at a list of things about which I’ve been itching to spill some ink, but just can’t seem to muster the volition to tease the words into anything resembling a coherent sentence—to say nothing of a paragraph.
That doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate (and share) other’s words. Yesterday evening, I was thumbing through the “Food” issue of Lapham’s Quarterly (imho one of the most splendidly intelligent periodicals in current circulation) and found the following gem, from Anthelme Brillat – Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste. With the exception of couple gender-based role assignments typical of its era (1825), it’s a timely and timeless set of observations on the civilized satisfaction of one of humankind’s essential needs. Problem solved. I’m going to have a beer (Bayern Pilsner, damned fine stuff) and make like Bartleby. Enjoy.
I: The universe is nothing without the things that live in it, and everything that lives, eats.
II: Animals feed themselves, men eat—but only wise men know the art of eating.
III. The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves.
IV: Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are.
V: The Creator, while forcing men to eat in order to live, tempts him to do so with appetite and then rewards him with pleasure.
VI: Good living is an act of intelligence, by which we choose things which have an agreeable taste rather than those which do not.
VII: The pleasures of the table are for every man of every land, and no matter of what place in history or society; they can be a part of all his other pleasures, and they last the longest to console him when he has outlived the rest.
VIII: The table is the only place where a man is never bored for the first hour.
IX: The discovery of a new dish does more for the human happiness than the discovery of a star.
X: Men who stuff themselves and grow tipsy know neither how to eat nor how to drink.
XI: The proper progression of courses in a dinner is from the most substantial to the lightest.
XII: The proper progression of wines or spirits is from the mildest to the headiest and most aromatic.
XIII: It is heresy to insist that we must not mix wines: a man’s palate can grow numb and react dully to even the best bottle after the third glass from it.
XIV: A dinner which ends without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.
XV: We can learn to be cooks, but we must be born knowing how to roast.
XVI: The most indispensable quality of a cook is promptness, nad it should be that of the diner as well.
XVII: A host who makes all his guests wait for one latecomer is careless of their well-being.
XVIII: He who plays host without giving his personal care to the repast is unworthy of having friends to invite to it.
XIX The mistress of the house should always makes sure that the coffee is good, nad the master that the wines are of the best.
XX: To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.