Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Physiologie
(Paris: Feydeau), 1826. 2 vols. First Edition.
The most famous book in gastronomy. After his involvement in the various political
vicissitudes of France before and during the revolution, Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
fled to the United States where he taught French and played violin at the John
Street Theater. In 1797 he was allowed to return to France and was appointed
counsellor to France's Supreme Court of Appeal, a post he held until his death.
During his adult life, Brillat-Savarin "remained a bachelor and spent his
leisure time drafting various treatises on economics and history and an essay
on the duel. He was interested in archaeology, astronomy, chemistry, and, of
course, gastronomy, appreciating good restaurants. He entertained frequently
at home in the Rue de Richelieu in Paris and cooked some specialities himself,
including tuna omelette, stuffed pheasant garnished with oranges, and fillet
of beef with truffles. On December 8, 1825, two months before his death, the
book which was to make him famous had appeared in the bookshops. The initial
500 copies sold out immediately and the book has been in print ever since.
Selected Excerpts from the Text
(Translation provided by: Claire Dehon, Professor, Modern Languages, and
Margaret Parks, Asst. Professor, K-State Libraries.)
- The universe exists only because of life, and everything that lives feeds
- Animals feed, men nourish themselves; only men of distinction know how to
- The destiny of a nation depends on the manner in which it feeds itself.
- Tell me what you eat, I will tell you who you are.
- The Creator, by condemning man to eat in order to live, invites him to do
so with appetite, and recompenses him with pleasures.
- Weakness for good food is an act of judgment by which we give preference
to things that are pleasant to the taste, over those that do not have that
- Pleasures of the Table are for all ages, for all conditions, for all countries,
and for everyday; they can be associated with all other pleasures, and remain
the last one to console us of their loss.
- The Table is the only place where one never gets bored during the first
- The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of humanity than
the discovery of a new star.
- Those who eat too much or get drunk do not know how to eat or drink.
- The classification of food goes from the most substanial to the lightest.
- The classification of drinks goes from the most temperate, to the smelliest,
to the most aromatic.
- To claim that one does not need to change wine is an heresy: the tongue
gets saturated, and after three glasses, the best of wines do not awake anything
but a vague taste.
- A dessert without cheese is like a one-eyed pretty girl.
- One becomes a cook, but one is born a grillman.
- The most indispensible quality of a cook is punctuality; it must also be
the one of his guests.
- To wait too long for a late guest is a lack of consideration for the other
- A person who receives friends, and who does not bring any personal care
for the meal that is prepared for them is not worthy to have friends.
- The lady of the house must make sure the coffee is excellent; and the master
of the house that the alcohols are of the first quality.
- To invite somebody is to take charge of his happiness while in your home.