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Saturday, July 28, 2007

“A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.”

posted by on July 28 at 14:59 PM

Because Wikipedia is obviously the best thing ever (and fuck you too Tom Wolfe, you frivolous, unnecessary geezer) I started by looking up a small bird and wound up at Project Gutenberg, reading The Physiology of Taste, or Transcendental Gastronomy by the French laywer, politician, and gourmand Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (died 1826).

What little I’ve read of it is aristocratic, sometimes bizarre, and great. It begins with a series of aphorisms. Here are my favorites, which are pretty much all of them:



I. The universe would be nothing were it not for life and all that lives must be fed.

II. Animals fill themselves; man eats. The man of mind alone knows how to eat.

III. The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.

IV. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.

VIII. The table is the only place where one does not suffer from ennui during the first hour.

IX. The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star.

X. Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.

XI. The order of food is from the most substantial to the lightest.

XII. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy and perfumed.

XIII. To say that we should not change our drinks is a heresy; the tongue becomes saturated, and after the third glass yields but an obtuse sensation.

XIV. A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.

XV. A cook may be taught, but a man who can roast is born with the faculty.

XVI. The most indispensable quality of a good cook is promptness. It should also be that of the guests.

XVII. To wait too long for a dilatory guest shows disrespect to those who are punctual.

XVIII. He who receives friends and pays no attention to the repast prepared for them is not fit to have friends.

XIX. The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality.

XX. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof.

(I’m pretty sure he would’ve objected to the word “foodie,” too.)

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To quote the Simpsons, "it's funny because it's true":

The Problem with Wikipedia

Posted by CJ | July 28, 2007 6:19 PM

Make sure it's the M.F.K. Fisher translation of Brillat-Savarin. It's exquisite.

Posted by Bauhaus | July 28, 2007 10:26 PM


You have no idea how happy it makes me to see someone else linking to xkcd for a change.

Posted by Zelbinian | July 28, 2007 11:24 PM

Frankly, in a dessert I would choose water before cheese. I don't want to die of dehydration.

Posted by Jude Fawley | July 29, 2007 7:21 AM

I'm not big on cheese as dessert, but I was born and bred in the midwest. I was lucky to get some Cool Whip on my Jell-o.

But just a shout out to Tom Wolfe, who although he may be frivolous, unnecessary, and a geezer, did write "Bonfire of the Vanities" which is a rollicking good read.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | July 29, 2007 10:44 AM

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