Literary Classics

The Pleasures of the Table (Penguin Great Food) by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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By Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Epicure and gourmet Brillat-Savarin was once the most influential foodstuff writers of all time. His 1825 e-book The body structure of Taste outlined our notions of French gastronomy, and his insistence that nutrients be a civilizing excitement for all has encouraged the sluggish nutrients circulate and guided cooks around the globe.

From discourses at the erotic homes of tarts and the origins of chocolate, to a defence of gourmandism and why 'a dessert with out cheese is sort of a beautiful girl with just one eye', the pleasant writings during this choice are a hymn to the paintings of consuming good.

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I am the most slavish of students, with here a dictionary, there a note-book in which I enter curious uses of the past participle. But one cannot go on for ever cutting these ancient inscriptions clearer with a knife. Shall I always draw the red-serge curtain close and see my book, laid like a block of marble, pale under the lamp? That would be a glorious life, to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it might lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seductions; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly.

Then I shall drop you. ‘I am one person – myself. I do not impersonate Catullus, whom I adore. I am the most slavish of students, with here a dictionary, there a note-book in which I enter curious uses of the past participle. But one cannot go on for ever cutting these ancient inscriptions clearer with a knife. Shall I always draw the red-serge curtain close and see my book, laid like a block of marble, pale under the lamp? That would be a glorious life, to addict oneself to perfection; to follow the curve of the sentence wherever it might lead, into deserts, under drifts of sand, regardless of lures, of seductions; to be poor always and unkempt; to be ridiculous in Piccadilly.

But now we have regained our territory after that brief brush with the bicycles and the lime scent and the vanishing figures in the distracted street. Here we are masters of tranquillity and order; inheritors of proud tradition. The lights are beginning to make yellow slits across the square. Mists from the river are filling these ancient spaces. They cling, gently, to the hoary stone. The leaves now are thick in country lanes, sheep cough in the damp fields; but here in your room we are dry. We talk privately.

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