A true visionary
His most famous quote is probably:
“Tell me what you eat and I tell you who you are”
But the most important quote he ever made is:
“The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they nourish themselves.” —Jean Anthelme Brillat-savarin
Having traveled worldwide I really have seen what this means and how important this is!
Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1 April 1755, Belley, Ain – 2 February 1826, Paris) was a French lawyer and politician, and gained fame as an epicure and gastronome: “Grimod and Brillat-Savarin. Between them, two writers effectively founded the whole genre of the gastronomic essay.
His famous work, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), was published in December 1825, two months before his death. The full title is Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et à l’ordre du jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un Professeur, membre de plusieurs sociétés littéraires et savantes. The book has not been out of print since it first appeared, shortly before Brillat-Savarin’s death. Its most notable English translation was done by food writer and critic M. F. K. Fisher, who remarked “I hold myself blessed among translators.” Her translation was first published in 1949.
The body of his work, though often wordy or excessively – and sometimes dubiously – aphoristic and axiomatic, has remained extremely important and has repeatedly been re-analyzed through the years since his death. In a series of meditations that owe something to Montaigne‘s Essays, and have the discursive rhythm of an age of leisured reading and a confident pursuit of educated pleasures, Brillat-Savarin discourses on the pleasures of the table, which he considers a science. His French models were the stylists of the Ancien Régime: Voltaire, Rousseau, Fénelon, Buffon,Cochin and d’Aguesseau. Aside from Latin, he knew five modern languages well, and when the occasion suited, wasn’t shy of parading them: he never hesitated to borrow a word, like the English sip when French seemed to him to fail, until he rediscovered the then-obsolete verb siroter.
The philosophy of Epicurus lies at the back of every page; the simplest meal satisfied Brillat-Savarin, as long as it was executed with artistry:
- Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.
- He compared after-taste, the perfume or fragrance of food, to musical harmonics (Meditation ii): “but for the odor which is felt in the back of the mouth, the sensation of taste would be but obtuse and imperfect.”
- An avid cheese lover, Brillat-Savarin remarked: “A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.”
- “The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.”
- “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
- “A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes at dessert after dinner. ‘Much obliged,’ said he, pushing the plate aside, ‘I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills.'”
- “To receive guests is to take charge of their happiness during the entire time they are under your roof.'”
- “Cooking is one of the oldest arts and one that has rendered us the most important service in civic life.”
- “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.”