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Rare Books - Exhibits
Cookery Exhibit: Jean Brillat-Savarin

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, Physiologie Du Gout
(Paris: Feydeau), 1826. 2 vols. First Edition.

Title page

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.)

    Aphorismes, pg.vii
  1. The universe exists only because of life, and everything that lives feeds itself.

  2. Animals feed, men nourish themselves; only men of distinction know how to eat.

  3. The destiny of a nation depends on the manner in which it feeds itself.

  4. Tell me what you eat, I will tell you who you are.

  5. The Creator, by condemning man to eat in order to live, invites him to do so with appetite, and recompenses him with pleasures.

  6. 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 quality.

  7. 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.

  8. The Table is the only place where one never gets bored during the first hour.

  9. The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of humanity than the discovery of a new star.

  10. Those who eat too much or get drunk do not know how to eat or drink.

  11. The classification of food goes from the most substanial to the lightest.

  12. The classification of drinks goes from the most temperate, to the smelliest, to the most aromatic.

  13. 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.

  14. Aphorismes, pg.xii
  15. A dessert without cheese is like a one-eyed pretty girl.

  16. One becomes a cook, but one is born a grillman.

  17. The most indispensible quality of a cook is punctuality; it must also be the one of his guests.

  18. To wait too long for a late guest is a lack of consideration for the other guests.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. To invite somebody is to take charge of his happiness while in your home.