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Title: The Physiology of Taste
Author: Brillat Savarin
Release Date: April, 2004 [EBook #5434]
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*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE ***
Steve Harris, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE;
ILLUSTRATED BY ANECDOTES OF DISTINGUISHED ARTISTS AND STATESMEN OF
BOTH CONTINENTS. BY BRILLAT SAVARIN.
TRANSLATED FROM THE LAST PARIS EDITION BY FAYETTE ROBINSON.
APHORISMS of the Professor to serve as Prolegomena to his work,
and Eternal basis of the Science,
DIALOGUE, between the Author and his Friend,
Number of the Senses,
Action of the Senses,
Perfectness of the Senses,
Powers of the Taste,
Object of the Action of the Senses,
Definition of Taste,
Mechanism of Taste,
Sensation of Taste,
Influence of Smelling on the Taste,
Analyses of the Sensation of Taste,
Order of the Impressions of Taste,
Enjoyments due to the Taste,
Supremacy of Man,
Method of the Author,
Origin of Sciences,
Origin of Gastronomy,
Definition of Gastronomy,
Different objects of Gastronomy,
Utility of Gastronomical Knowledge,
Influence of Gastronomy on Business,
Definition of Appetite,
FOOD IN GERMS--Section First,
Principle of Aliments,
Difference between Fat and Lean,
FOOD IN GERMS--Section Second,
I. Pot-au-feu, Potage, etc.,
IV. The Turkey,
Financial Influence of the Turkey,
Exploit of the Professor,
Erratic Virtue of Truffles,
Are Truffles Indigestible,
Uses of Sugur,
IX. Origin of Coffee,
Different Modes of preparing Coffee,
Effects of Coffee,
X. Chocolate--its origin,
Properties of Chocolate,
True Method of preparing Chocolate,
THEORY OF FRYING,
Varieties of Thirst,
Causes of Thirst,
Quick effect of Drinks,
AN EPISODE ON THE END OF THE WORLD,
Advantages of Gourmandise,
Power of Gourmandise,
A Lady Gourmand,
Are Women Gourmands?
The effects of Gourmandise of Sociability,
Influence of Gourmandise on Conjugal Happiness,
Note of a Patriot Gastronomer,
All who wish to be are not Gourmands,
Gourmands by Destiny,
Gourmands by Profession,
Men of Letters,
Chevaliers and Abbes,
Longevity of Gourmands,
First Series--Income of 5,000 francs,
Second Series--Income of 15,000 francs,
Third Series--Income of 30,000 francs, or more,
MEDITATION XIV. ON THE PLEASURES OF THE TABLE,
Origin of the Pleasures of the Table,
Difference between the Pleasures of Eating and the Pleasures
of the Table,
The 18th and 19th Century,
HALTES DE CHASSE,
Duty of the Stomach,
Influence of Digestion,
Time of Rest,
Nature of Dreams,
System of Dr. Gall,
Phenomena of Dreams,
Do as you will be done by,
INFLUENCE OF DIET ON REST, SLEEP AND DREAMS,
Effects of Diet on Labor,
MEDITATION XXI. OBESITY,
Causes of Obesity,
Inconvenience of Obesity,
Examples of Obesity,
PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT AND CURE OF OBESITY,
Sequel of the Regimen,
Dangers of Acids,
Effects of Thinness,
How people used to Fast,
Origin of the removal of Restriction in Fasting,
Cure by the Professor,
PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY OF THE KITCHEN,
Order of Alimentation,
Discovery of Fire,
Resurrection of Lucullus,
Irruption of the Barbarians,
PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE--Part Second,
I. L'omelette du Cure,
Omelette au Thon,
II. A National Victory,
III. Mystification of the Professor and Defeat of a General,
IV. The Snare,
V. The Turbot,
VII. Gastronomical Industry of the Emigres,
VIII. Recollections of the Emigration,
Sojourn in America,
Recipe for Fondue, Copied from the Papers of M. Trollet,
Bailli of Mondon in Berne,
Wonderful Effects of a Classical Dinner,
Effects and Danger of Strong Drinks,
Chevaliers and Abbes,
A Day with the Bernardines,
Prosperity en route,
H. ... DeP ...,
The excellent man to whom we are indebted for this book has
described himself, with so much charm, nature and truth; the
principal events of his life have been recorded in such an
agreeable and faithful manner that very few words will suffice to
finish the story.
Brillat Savarin (Anthelme) Counsel of the Court of Cassation,
member of the Legion of Honor, member of the Society for the
Encouragement of National Industry, of the Antiquarian Society of
France, of the Philoselic Society of Bourg, &c., &c., was born,
1st of April, 1755, at Belley, a little Alpine city, not far from
the banks of the Rhine, which at this place separates France from
Savoy. Like his forefathers, who had been for several generations
devoted to the bar, the profession which pleased him, in
consequence of his possession of great eloquence, he practised
with great success.
In, 1789, the unanimous vote of his fellow citizens deputed him
to the Constituent assembly, composed of all that was most
brilliant in the youth of France at that day. Less attached in
practice to the philosophy of Zeno than that of Epicurus, his name
does not figure very conspicuously, but always appears at epochs,
which show that he acted with the good and moderate.
His legislative functions being determined by the expiration of
the Constituent Assembly, he was first appointed President of the
Superior Civil court of the Department of Ain, and subsequently a
Justice of the Court of Cassation, newly instituted; a man of
talent, perfectly incorruptible and unhesitating in the discharge
of his duty, he would have been precisely calculated for the place
to which he had been appointed, had the warmth of political
discussion made practicable the advice either of moderation or of
prudence. In 1793, he was Mayor of Belley, and passed in anxiety
there, the season of the reign of Terror; whence he was forced to
fly to Switzerland for an asylum against the revolutionary
movement. Nothing can better man, without a personal enemy, should
be forced to pass in a foreign land the days he purposed to devote
to the improvement of his country.
This is the point when the character of Brillat Savarin assumes
its grandest proportions; proscribed, a fugitive, and often
without pecuniary resources, frequently unable to provide for his
personal safety, he was always able to console his companions in
exile and set them an example of honest industry. As time rolled
on, and his situation became more painful, he sought to find in
the new world a repose which Europe denied him; he came from
Europe, and in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Hartford passed
two years teaching the French language, and for a time playing the
first violin in the orchestra of the Park Theatre. Like many other
emigres, Brillat Savarin ever sought to make the pleasant and the
useful coincide. He always preserved very pleasant recollection of
this period of his life, in which he enjoyed, with moderate labor,
all that is necessary for happiness, liberty sweetened by honest
toil. He might say all is well, and to be able to enjoy the breath
of my native land would alone increase my happiness; he fancied
that he saw brighter days with the commencement of Vendemiaire
year 5, corresponding to September, of 1796. Appointed by the
Directory, as Secretary of the General in Chief of the Republican
armies in Germany, then Commisary of the government in the
department of the Seine and Oise, (this appointment he held at the
epoch of the 18th Brumaire, in which France fancied she exchanged
liberty for repose,) sustained by the Senate and the Court,
Brillat Savarin passed the remaining twenty-five years of his life
respected by his inferiors, loved by his equals, and honored by
all. A man of mind, a pleasant guest, with a deep fund of humor,
he delighted every body. His judicial labors did not at all
interfere with the composition of this book, which he esteemed the
great one of his life.
To the very facility of its composition, the "Physiology of the
Taste," owes its success; one would form a very erroneous opinion
of it, were he to estimate it at all as we do Montaigue's writings
on the Gueule. Savarin was naturally a thoughtful man, the
simplest meal satisfied him, all he required was that it should be
prepared artistically; and he maintained that the art of cookery
consisted in exciting the taste. He used to say, "to excite a
stomach of Papier Mache, and enliven vital powers almost ready to
depart, a cook needs more talent than he who has solved the
The world was much surprised by finding in a book by Brillat
Savarin, a man it had always looked upon as simply a very pleasant
person, such a vast collection of general information; after his
laborious profession he had always seemed to expend the rest of
his time with the muses and graces, and none could divine where he
obtained so much information, as almost to recall the story of
some gray-haired sage of Greece. He had however already composed
more than one work unrecognised, if we except the two opuscula
"Critical and Historical Essay on Duel, with Relation to our
Legislation and Morals," and a work on judicial practice. They
were successful, but he was just then attacked by a violent cold,
contracted by being present at the annual ceremony, [Footnote: Not
only Brillat Savarin, but Robert De St. Vincent, and Attorney
General Marchangy, contracted their death in consequence of the
same ceremonial.] the 21st of January at the Church of St. Dennis.
In spite of every care and attention, on the 2d of February, 1826,
he died. For many years gifted with robust health and athletic
constitution, made the more remarkable by his tall stature,
Brillat Savarin had a presentiment of the approach of death; this
feeling, however, did not influence the tenor of his life, for his
habitual gaity was maintained unimpaired. When the fatal point was
reached, he died tanquam convivia satur, not without regret,
certainly, for he left many kind friends to whom his memory could
not but be dear.
APHORISMS OF THE PROFESSOR.
TO SERVE AS PROLEGOMENA TO HIS WORK AND ETERNAL BASIS TO THE
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
IV. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what
kind of man you are.
V. The Creator, when he obliges man to eat, invites him to do so
by appetite, and rewards him by pleasure.
VI. Gourmandise is an act of our judgment, in obedience to which,
we grant a preference to things which are agreeable, over those
which nave not that quality.
VII. 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
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
XI. The order of food is from the most substantial to the
XII. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy
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
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
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
XX. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his
happiness as long as he be beneath your roof.
DIALOGUE between the author and his friend. (after the usual
FRIEND. As my wife and myself were at breakfast this morning, we
came to the conclusion that you should print, as soon as possible,
your Gastronomical Observations.
AUTHOR. What the wife wishes God wills. In six words that is the
charta of Paris. I, though, am not subject to that law, for I am
an unmarried man.
FRIEND. Bachelors, though, are as subject to the law as others
are, sometimes much to our injury. Single blessedness here,
however, will not save you. My wife says she has a right to order,
because you began your book at her country-house.
AUTHOR. You know, dear Doctor, how I defer to the ladies; more
than once you have found my submission to their orders. You also
were one of those who said I would make an excellent husband. I
will not, however, print my book.
FRIEND. Why not?
AUTHOR. Because being devoted, from the nature of my profession,
to serious studies, I fear that those who only know the title of
my book will think that I devote myself to trifles.
FRIEND. A panic terror! Thirty-six years of constant toil and
labor for the public, have made you a reputation. Besides, my wife
and I think every body would read you.
FRIEND. The learned will read your book to ascertain what you have
FRIEND. Women will read your book because they will see---
AUTHOR. My dear friend, I am old, I am attacked by a fit of
wisdom. Miserere mei.
FRIEND. Gourmands will read you because you do them justice, and
assign them their suitable rank in society.
AUTHOR. Well, that is true. It is strange that they have so long
been misunderstood; I look on the dear Gourmands with paternal
affection. They are so kind and their eyes are so bright.
FRIEND. Besides, did you not tell me such a book was needed in
AUTHOR. I did. It is the truth--and I would die sooner than deny
FRIEND: Ah! you are convinced! You will come home with me?
AUTHOR. Not so. If there be flowers in the author's path, there
are also thorns. The latter I leave to my heirs.
FRIEND. But then you disinherit your friends, acquaintances and
cotemporaries. Dare you do so?
AUTHOR. My heirs! my heirs! I have heard that shades of the
departed are always flattered by the praise of the living; this is
a state of beatitude I wish to reserve myself for the other world.
FRIEND. But are you sure that the praise you love so, will come to
the right address? Are you sure of the exactness of your heirs?
AUTHOR. I have no reason to think they will neglect a duty, in
consideration of which I have excused them the neglect of so many
FRIEND. Will they--can they have for your book the paternal love,
the author's attention without which every work always comes
awkwardly before the public?
AUTHOR. My manuscript will be corrected, written out distinctly,
and in all respects prepared; they will only have to print it.
FRIEND. And the chapter of events? Alas! such circumstances have
caused the loss of many precious books,--among which was that of
the famous Lecat, on the state of the body during sleep, the work
of his whole life.
AUTHOR. This doubtless was a great loss; but I anticipate no such
regrets for my book.
FRIEND. Believe me, your friends will have enough to do-to arrange
matters with the church, with the law, and with the medical
faculty, so that if they had the will, they would not have the
time to devote them-selves to the various cares which precede,
accompany, and follow the publication of a book,--however small
the volume may be.
AUTHOR. But, my friend, what a title! Think of the ridicule!
FRIEND. The word Gastronomy makes every ear attentive; the subject
is a la mode, and those who laugh are as great votaries of the
science as any others are. This should satisfy you. Do you
remember too, that the greatest men have sometimes written books
on very trivial subjects,-Montesquieu, for example. [Footnote: M.
de Monjucla, known as the author of an excellent history of
mathematics, made a Dictionary of Gourmand Geography; he showed me
portions of it during my residence at Versailles. It is said that
M. Berryat-Professor of legal practice, has written a romance in
several volumes on the subject.]
AUTHOR. (Quickly.) On my word, that is true. He wrote the Temple
of Gnidus, and it would not be difficult to sustain that there is
more real utility in meditating on what is at once a necessity, a
pleasure, and an occupation every day of our lives, than in
telling what was done and said a thousand years ago by two mad
people, one of whom pursued through the woods of Greece the other,
who had not the least disposition to escape.
FRIEND. Ah! ha! Now you yield?
AUTHOR. Not I. The ass's ear of the author only was shown; and
this recalls to my memory a scene of English comedy, which amused
me very much; it is, I think, in the play called the Natural
Daughter. You shall see, however, for yourself. [Footnote: The
reader will observe that my friend permits me to be familiar with
him, without taking advantage of it. The reason is, that the
difference between our ages is that of a father and a son, and
that, though now a man of great note and importance in every
respect, he would be completely overcome with grief if I changed
my bearing towards him.] The subject relates to the Quakers, that
sect which uses "thee" and "thou" to everybody, which dresses
simply, never go to war, never swear or act with passion, and who
never get angry. The hero of this piece is a young and handsome
Quaker, who appears on the scene in a brown coat, a broad-brimmed
hat, and slick hair! All this, though, does not keep him from
being in love.
A fool who is his rival, emboldened by his exterior, ridicules and
outrages him so that the young man gradually becoming excited, and
finally made furious, gives his assailant a severe thrashing.
Having done this he at once resumes his habitual deportment and
says, sadly, "Alas! the flesh is too mighty for the spirit."
Thus say I, and after a brief hesitation resume my first opinion.
FRIEND. That is impossible. You have shown your ear; you are a
prize, and I will take you to my bookseller. I will tell you who
has gotten wind of your secret.
AUTHOR. Do not; for I would speak of yourself, and who knows what
I would say?
FRIEND. What could you say? Do not think you can intimidate me.
AUTHOR. I will not say that our native city [Footnote: Belley,
capital of Bugey, where high mountains, hills, vines, limpid
streams, cascades, dells, gardens of a hundred square leagues are
found, and where, BEFORE the revolution, the people were able to
control the other two orders.] is proud of having given you birth.
At the age of twenty-four you published an elementary book, which
from that day has become a classic. A deserved reputation has
attracted confidence to you. Your skill revives invalids; your
dexterity animates them; your sensibility consoles them. All know
this; but I will reveal to all Paris, to all France, the sole
fault of which I know you guilty.
FRIEND. (Seriously.) What do you mean?
AUTHOR. An habitual fault which no persuasion can correct.
FRIEND. Tell me what you mean! Why torment me?
AUTHOR. You eat too quickly.
(Here, the friend takes up his hat and leaves, fancying that he
has made a convert.)
The Doctor I have introduced into the dialogue we have just read,
is not a creature of imagination like the Chloris of other days,
but a real living Doctor. Those who know me, will remember
When I thought of him I could not but have reference to those who
preceded him, and I saw with pride that from Belley, from the
department of Ain, my native soil, for a long time physicians of
the greatest distinction had come. I could not resist the
temptation to erect a brief monument to them.
During the regency Doctors Genin and Civoct were in full
possession of practice, and expended in their country a wealth
they had honorably acquired. The first was altogether
HIPPOCRATITE; he proceeded secundum artem; the second was almost
monopolized by women, and had as his device, as Tacitus would have
said, res novas molientem.
About 1780 Chapelle became distinguished in the dangerous career
of a military surgeon. About 1781 Doctor Dubois had great success
in sundry maladies, then very much a la mode, and in nervous
diseases. The success he obtained was really wonderful.
Unfortunately he inherited a fortune and became idle, and was
satisfied to be a good story-teller. He was very amusing, and
contrived to survive the dinners of the new and old regime.
[Footnote: I smiled when I wrote the above, for it recalled to me
an Academician, the eulogium of whom Fontenelle undertook. The
deceased knew only how to play at all games. Fontenelle made a
very decent oration, however, about him.] About the end of the
reign of Louis XV., Dr. Coste, a native of Chatillon came to
Paris; he had a letter from Voltaire to the Duc de Choiseuil, the
good wishes of whom he gained as soon as he had seen him.
Protected by this nobleman, and by the Duchess of Grammont, his
sister, young Coste advanced rapidly, and in a short time became
one of the first physicians of Paris.
The patronage he had received took him from a profitable career to
place him at the head of the medical department of the army which
France sent to the United States, who then were contending for
Having fulfilled his mission, Coste returned to France, and almost
unseen lived through the evil days of 1793. He was elected maire
of Versailles, and even now the memory of his administration, at
once mild, gentle and paternal, has been preserved.
The Directors now recalled him to the charge of the medical
department of the army. Bonaparte appointed him one of the three
Inspectors General of the service; the Doctor was always the
friend, protector, and patron of the young men who selected that
service. He was at last appointed Physician of the Invalides, and
discharged the duties until he died.
Such service the Bourbons could not neglect, and Louis XVIII.
granted to Doctor Coste the cordon of Saint Michel.
Doctor Coste died a few years since, leaving behind kind
recollections, and a daughter married to M. Lalot, who
distinguished himself in the Chamber of Deputies by his eloquent
and profound arguments.
One day when we had dined with M. Favre, the Cure of St. Laurent,
Doctor Coste told me of a difficulty he had, the day before, with
the Count de Le Cessac, then a high officer of the ministry of
war, about a certain economy which the latter proposed as a means
of paying his court Napoleon.
The economy consisted in retrenching the allowances of hospital,
so as to restrict men who had wounds from the comforts they were
Doctor Coste said such measures were abominable, and he became
I do not know what the result was, but only that the sick soldiers
had their usual allowances, and that no change was made.
He was appointed Professor of the Faculty of Medicine. His style
was simple and his addresses were plain and fruitful. Honors were
crowded on him. He was appointed Physician to the Empress Marie
Louise. He did not, however, fill that place long, the Emperor was
swept away, and the Doctor himself succumbed to a disease of the
leg, to which he had long been subject.
Bordier was of a calm disposition, kind and reliable.
About the 18th century appeared Bichat, all of the writings of
whom bear the impress of genius. He expended his life in toil to
advance science, and joined the patience of restricted minds to
enthusiasm. He died at the age of thirty, and public honors were
decreed to his memory.
At a later day came Doctor Montegre, who carried philosophy into
clinics. He was the editor of the Gazette de Sante, and at the age
of forty died in the Antilles whither he had gone to complete his
book on the Vomite Negro.
At the present moment Richerand stands on the highest degree of
operative medicine, and his Elements of Physiology have been
translated into every language. Appointed at an early date a
Professor of the Faculty of Paris, he made all rely fully on him.
He is the keenest, gentlest, and quickest operator in the world.
Recamier, a professor of the same faculty, sits by his side.
The present being thus assured, the future expands itself before
us! Under the wings of these mighty Professors arise young men of
the same land, who seek to follow their honorable examples.
Janin and Manjot already crush the pavement of Paris. Manjot
devotes himself to the diseases of children; he has happy
inspirations, and soon will tell the public what he has
I trust my readers will pardon this digression of an old man, who,
during an absence of thirty years, has neither forgotten his
country nor his countrymen. I could not however omit all those
physicians, the memory of whom is yet preserved in their birth-
place, and who, though not conspicuous, had not on that account
the less merit or worth. [Footnote: The translator thinks several
have made world-renowned names.]
In offering to the public the work I now produce, I have
undertaken no great labor. I have only put in order materials I
had collected long ago. The occupation was an amusing one, which I
reserved for my old age.
When I thought of the pleasures of the table, under every point of
view, I saw that something better than a common cookery book could
be made out of it, and that much might be said about essential and
continuous things, which have a direct influence on health,
happiness, and even on business.
When I had once gotten hold of the idea, all the rest came
naturally. I looked around, took notes, and amidst the most
sumptuous festivals looked at the guests. Thus I escaped many of
the dangers of conviviality.
To do what I have undertaken, one need not be a physician,
chemist, physiologist, or even a savant. All I learned, I learned
without the least idea that I would ever be an author. I was
impressed by a laudable curiosity, by the fear of remaining behind
my century, and by an anxiety to be able to sit at table on equal
terms with the savants I used to meet.
I am essentially an amateur medecin, and this to me is almost a
mania. Among the happiest days of my life, when with the
Professors, I went to hear the thesis of Doctor Cloquet; I was
delighted when I heard the murmur of the students' voices, each of
whom asked who was the foreign professor who honored the College
with his presence.
One other day is, I think, almost as dear to me. I refer to the
meeting of the society for the encouragement of national industry,
when I presented the irrorator, an instrument of my own invention,
which is neither more nor less than a forcing pump filled with
I had an apparatus fully charged in my pocket. I turned the cock,
and thence pressed out a perfume which filled the whole room.
Then I saw, with inexpressible pleasure, the wisest heads of the
capital bend beneath my irrigation, and I was glad to see that
those who received most, were the happiest.
Thinking sometimes of the grave lucubrations to which I was
attracted by my subject, I really as afraid that I would be
troublesome. I have often read very stupid books.
I did all that I could to escape this reproach. I have merely
hovered over subjects which presented themselves to me; I have
filled my book with anecdotes, some of which to a degree are
personal. I have omitted to mention many strange and singular
things, which critical judgment induced me to reject, and I
recalled popular attention to certain things which savants seemed
to have reserved to themselves. If, in spite of all these efforts,
I have not presented to my readers a science rarely understood, I
shall sleep just as calmly, being certain that the MAJORITY will
acquit me of all evil intention.
It may perhaps be said that sometimes I wrote too rapidly, and
that sometimes I became garrulous. Is it my fault that I am old?
Is it my fault that, like Ulysses, I have seen the manners and
customs of many cities? Am I therefore blamable for writing a
little bit of autobiography? Let the reader, however, remember
that I do not inflict my political memoirs on him, which he would
have to read, as he has many others, since during the last thirty
years I have been exactly in the position to see great men and
Let no one assign me a place among compilers; had I been reduced
thus low, I would have laid down my pen, and would not have lived
I said, like Juvenal:
"Semper ego auditor tantum! nunquamne reponam!"
and those who know me will easily see that used to the tumult of
society and to the silence of the study I had to take advantage of
both one and the other of these positions.
I did too many things which pleased me particularly; I was able to
mention many friends who did not expect me to do so, and recalled
some pleasant memories; I seized on others which would have
escaped, and, as we say familiarly, took my coffee.
It may be a single reader may in some category exclaim,----"I
wished to know if----." "What was he thinking of," etc., etc. I am
sure, though, the others will make him be silent and receive with
kindness the effusions of a praiseworthy sentiment.
I have something to say about my style, which, as Buffon says, is
all the man.
Let none think I come to ask for a favor which is never granted to
those who need it. I wish merely to make an explanation.
I should write well, for Voltaire, Jean Jacques, Fenelon, Buffon,
and Cochin and Aguesseau were my favorite authors. I knew them by
It may be though, that the gods ordered otherwise; if so, this is
the cause of the will of the gods.
I know five languages which now are spoken, which gives me an
immense refectory of words.
When I need a word and do not find it in French, I select it from
other tongues, and the reader has either to understand or
translate me. Such is my fate.
I could have acted otherwise, but was prevented by a kind of
system to which I was invincibly attached.
I am satisfied that the French language which I use is
comparatively poor. What could I do? Either borrow or steal.
I did neither, for such borrowings, cannot be restored, though to
steal words is not punishable by the penal code.
Any one may form an idea of my audacity when I say I applied the
Spanish word volante to any one I had sent on an errand, and that
I had determined to GALLICISE the English word TO SIP, which means
to drink in small quantities. I however dug out the French word
siroter, which expresses nearly the same thing.
I am aware the purists will appeal to Bosseux, to Fenelon, Raceri,
Boilleau, Pascal, and others of the reign of Louis XIV. I fancy I
hear their clamor.
To all this I reply distinctly, that I do not depreciate the merit
of those authors; but what follows? Nothing, except that if they
played well on an inferior instrument, how much better would they
have done on a superior one. Therefore, we may believe that
Tartini would have played on the violin far better than he did, if
his bow had been long as that of Baillot.
I do not belong to the neologues or even to the romanticists; the
last are discoverers of hidden treasures, the former are like
sailors who go about to search for provisions they need.
The people of the North, and especially the English, have in this
respect an immense advantage over us. Genius is never restricted
by the want of expression, which is either made or created. Thus
it is that of all subjects which demand depth and energy, our
translations make but pale and dull infusions.
Once I heard at the institute a pleasant discourse on the danger
of neologism, and on the necessity of maintaining our language as
it was when the authors of the great century wrote.
"Like a chemist, I sifted the argument and ascertained that it
"We have done so well, that we neither need nor can do better."
Now; I have lived long enough to know that each generation has
done as much, and that each one laughs at his grandfather.
Besides, words must change, when manners and ideas undergo
perpetual modifications. If we do things as the ancients did, we
do not do them in the same manner. There are whole pages in many
French books, which cannot be translated into Latin or Greek.
All languages had their birth, their apogee and decline. None of
those which have been famous from the days of Sesostris to that of
Philip Augustus, exist except as monuments. The French will have
the same fate, and in the year 2825 if read, will be read with a
I once had a terrible argument on this matter with the famous M.
Andrieux, at the Academie Francaise.
I made my assault in good array, I attacked him vigorously, and
would have beaten him had he not made a prompt retreat, to which I
opposed no obstacle, fortunately for him, as he was making one
letter of the new lexicon.
I end by one important observation, for that reason I have kept it
till the last.
When I write of ME in the singular, I gossip with my reader, he
may examine, discuss, doubt or laugh; but when I say WE I am a
professor, and all must bow to me.
"I am, Sir Oracle,
And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark."
Merchant of Venice.
PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE.
The senses are the organs by which man places himself in connexion
with exterior objects.
NUMBER OF THE SENSES.
1. They are at least six--
Sight, which embraces space, and tells us by means of light, of
the existence and of the colors of the bodies around us.
Hearing, which, by the motion of the air, informs us of the motion
of sounding or vibrating bodies.
Scent, by means of which we are made aware of the odors bodies
Taste, which enables us to distinguish all that has a flavor from
that which is insipid.
Touch informs us of the consistency and resistance of bodies.
The last is genesiac or physical love, which attracts the sexes to
each other, and the object of which is the reproduction of the
It is astonishing that, almost to the days of Buffon, so important
a sense was misunderstood, and was confounded with the touch.
Yet the sensation of which it is the seat, has nothing in common
with touch; it resides in an apparatus as complete as the mouth or
the eyes, and what is singular is that each sex has all that is
needed to experience the sensation; it is necessary that the two
should be united to reach nature's object. If the TASTE, the
object of which is the preservation of the individual, be
incontestibly a sense, the same title must indubitably be
preserved on the organs destined to the preservation of the
Let us then assign to the genesiac the sensual place which cannot
be refused to it, and let us leave to posterity the assignment of
its peculiar rank.
ACTION OF THE SENSES.
If we were permitted, even in imagination, to refer to the first
moments of the existence of the human race, we would believe that
the first sensations were direct; that is to say that all saw
confusedly and indirectly, smelled without care, ate without
The centre of all these sensations, however, being the soul, the
sensual attribute of humanity and active cause of perfectibility,
they are reflected, compared, and judged by it; the other senses
then come to the assistance of each other, for the utility and
well-being of the sensitive; one or individual.
Thus touch rectifies the errors of sight; sound, by means of
articulate speech, becomes the interpreter of every sentiment;
taste is aided by sight and smell; hearing compares sounds,
appreciates distance; and the genesiac sense takes possession of
the organs of all the senses.
The torrent of centuries rolling over the human race, has
continually brought new perfections, the cause of which, ever
active though unseen, is found in the demands made by our senses,
which always in their turns demand to be occupied.
Sight thus gave birth to painting, to sculpture, and to spectacles
of every kind.
Sound, to melody, harmony, to the dance, and to music in all its
branches, and means of execution.
Smell, to the discovery, manufacture and use of perfumes.
Taste, to the production, choice and preparation of all that is
used for food.
Touch, to all art, trades and occupations.
The genesiac sense, to all which prepares or embellishes the
reunion of senses, and, subsequently to the days of Francois I.,
to romantic love, to coquetry, which originated in France and
obtained its name there, and from which the elite of the world,
collected in the capital of the universe, take their lessons every
This proposition, strange as it seems, is very susceptible of
demonstration; we cannot express with clearness in any ancient
language, ideas about these three great motives of actual society.
I had written a dialogue on this subject, but suppressed it for
the purpose of permitting the reader, each in his own way, to
think of the matter for himself. There is enough to occupy the
mind and display intelligence and erudition during a whole
We said above, that the genesiac sense took possession of the
organs of all the others; the influence it has exerted over all
sciences is not less. When we look closer, we will find that all
that is most delicate and ingenious is due to the desire, to hope,
or to gratitude, in connexion with the union of the sexes.
Such is, indeed, the genealogy of the senses, even the most
abstract ones, all being the immediate result of continuous
efforts made to gratify our senses.
PERFECTNESS OF THE SENSES.
These senses, our favorites, are far from being perfect, and I
will not pause to prove it. I will only observe, that that
ethereal sense--sight, and touch, which is at the other extremity
of the scale, have from time acquired a very remarkable additional
By means of spectacles the eye, so to say, escapes from the decay
of age, which troubles almost all the other organs.
The telescope has discovered stars hitherto unknown and
inaccessible to all our means of mensuration; it has penetrated
distances so great, that luminous and necessarily immense bodies
present themselves to us only like nebulous and almost
The microscope has made us acquainted with the interior
configuration of bodies; or has shown the existence of a
vegetation and of plants, the existence of which we were ignorant
Animals a hundred thousand times smaller than any visible with the
naked eye have been discovered; these animalculae, however, move,
feed and multiply, establishing the existence of organs of
Mechanics have multiplied our power; man has executed all that he
could conceive of, and has moved weights nature made inaccessible
to his weakness.
By means of arms and of the lever, man has conquered all nature;
he has subjected it to his pleasure, wants and caprices. He has
overturned its surfaces, and a feeble biped has become king of
Sight and touch, being thus increased in capacity, might belong to
some species far superior to man; or rather the human species
would be far different had all the senses been thus improved.
We must in the meantime remark, that if touch has acquired a great
development as a muscular power, civilization has done almost
nothing for it as an organ of sensation. We must, however, despair
of nothing, but remember that the human race is yet young, and
that only after a long series of years can the senses aggrandise
For instance. Harmony was only discovered about four centuries
ago, and that celestial science is to sound what painting is to
Certainly, the ancients used to sing and accompany themselves in
unison. Their knowledge, however, ended there. They knew neither
how to decompose sounds, nor to appreciate their relations.
[Footnote: We are aware that the contrary has been maintained; the
idea though cannot be supported. Had the ancients been acquainted
with harmony, their writings would have preserved some precise
notion on the matter, instead of a few obscure phrases, which may
be tortured to mean anything. Besides, we cannot follow the birth
and progress of harmony in the monuments left to us; this
obligation we owe to the Arabs, who made us a present of the
organ, which produces at one time many continuous sounds, and thus
Tone was only reduced to system, and accords measured in the
fifteenth century. Only then it was used to sustain the voice and
to reinforce the expression of sentiments.
This discovery, made at so late a day, yet so natural, doubled the
hearing, and has shown the existence of two somewhat independent
faculties, one of which receives sound and the other appreciates
The German Doctors say that persons sensible of harmony have one
sense more than others.
Of those persons to whom music is but a confused mass of sounds,
we may remark that almost all sing false. We are forced to think
that they have the auditory apparatus so made, as to receive but
brief and short undulation, or that the two ears not being on the
same diapason, the difference in length and sensibility of these
constituent parts, causes them to transmit to the brain only an
obscure and undetermined sensation, like two instruments played in
neither the same key nor the same measure, and which can produce
no continuous melody.
The centuries last passed have also given the taste important
extension; the discovery of sugar, and its different preparations,
of alcoholic liquors, of wine, ices, vanilla, tea and coffee, have
given us flavors hitherto unknown.
Who knows if touch will not have its day, and if some fortuitous
circumstance will not open to us thence some new enjoyments? This
is especially probable as tactile sensitiveness exists every where
in the body, and consequently can every where be excited.
We have seen that physical love has taken possession of all the
sciences. In this respect it acts with its habitual tyranny.
The taste is a more prudent measure but not less active faculty.
Taste, we say, has accomplished the same thing, with a slowness
which ensures its success.
Elsewhere we will consider the march. We may, however, observe,
that he who has enjoyed a sumptuous banquet in a hall decked with
flowers, mirrors, paintings, and statues, embalmed in perfume,
enriched with pretty women, filled with delicious harmony, will
not require any great effort of thought to satisfy himself that
all sciences have been put in requisition to exalt and to enhance
the pleasures of taste.
OBJECT OF THE ACTION OF THE SENSES.
Let us now glance at the system of our senses, considered
together, and we will see that the Author of creation had two
objects, one of which is the consequence of the other,--the
preservation of the individual and the duration of the species.
Such is the destiny of man, considered as a sensitive being; all
his actions have reference to this double purpose.
The eye perceives external objects, reveals the wonders by which a
man is surrounded, and tells him he is a portion of the great
Hearing perceives sounds, not only as an agreeable sensation, but
as warnings of the movement of bodies likely to endanger us.
The sense of touch watches to warn us by pain of any immediate
That faithful servant the hand has prepared his defence, assured
his steps, but has from instinct seized objects it thought needed
to repair losses caused by the use of life.
The sense of smell explores; deleterious substances almost always
have an unpleasant smell.
The taste decides; the teeth are put in action, the tongue unites
with the palate in tasting, and the stomach soon commences the
process of assimilation.
In this state a strange languor is perceived, objects seem
discolored, the body bends, the eyes close, all disappears, and
the senses are in absolute repose.
When he awakes man sees that nothing around him has changed, a
secret fire ferments in his bosom, a new organ is developed. He
feels that he wishes to divide his existence.
This active unquiet and imperious sentiment is common to both
sexes. It attracts them together and unites them, and when the
germ of a new being is fecundated, the individuals can sleep in
They have fulfilled the holiest of their duties by assuring the
duration of the species. [Footnote: Buffon describes, with all the
charms of the most brilliant eloquence, the first moments of Eve's
existence. Called on to describe almost the same subject, we have
drawn but one feature. The reader will complete the picture.]
Such are the general and philosophical principles I wished to
place before my readers, to lead them naturally to the examination
of the organ of taste.
DEFINITION OF TASTE.
Taste is the sense which communicates to us a knowledge of vapid
bodies by means of the sensations which they excite.
Taste, which has as its excitement appetite, hunger and thirst, is
the basis of many operations the result of which is that the
individual believes, developes, preserves and repairs the losses
occasioned by vital evaporation.
Organized bodies are not sustained in the same manner. The Author
of creation, equally varied in causes and effects, has assigned
them different modes of preservation.
Vegetables, which are the lowest in the scale of living things,
are fed by roots, which, implanted in the native soil, select by
the action of a peculiar mechanism, different subjects, which
serve to increase and to nourish them.
As we ascend the scale we find bodies gifted with animal life and
deprived of locomotion. They are produced in a medium which favors
their existence, and have special and peculiar organs which
extract all that is necessary to sustain the portion and duration
of life allotted them. They do not seek food, which, on the
contrary, comes to seek them.
Another mode has been appointed for animals endowed with
locomotion, of which man is doubtless the most perfect. A peculiar
instinct warns him of the necessity of food; he seeks and seizes
the things which he knows are necessary to satisfy his wants; he
eats, renovates himself, and thus during his life passes through
the whole career assigned to him.
Taste may be considered in three relations.
In physical man it is the apparatus by means of which he
In moral man it is the sensation which the organ impressed by any
savorous centre impresses on the common centre. Considered as a
material cause, taste is the property which a body has to impress
the organ and to create a sensation.
Taste seems to have two chief uses:
1. It invites us by pleasure to repair the losses which result
from the use of life.
2. It assists us to select from among the substances offered by
nature, those which are alimentary.
In this choice taste is powerfully aided by the sense of smell, as
we will see hereafter; as a general principle, it may be laid down
that nutritious substances are repulsive neither to the taste nor
to the smell.
It is difficult to say in exactly what the faculty of taste
consists. It is more complicated than it appears.
The tongue certainly plays a prominent part in the mechanism of
degustation--for, being endued with great muscular power, it
enfolds, turns, presses and swallows food.
Also, by means of the more or less numerous pores which cover it,
it becomes impregnated with the sapid and soluble portions of the
bodies which it is placed in contact with. Yet all this does not
suffice, for many adjacent parts unite in completing the sensation
--viz: jaws, palate, and especially the nasal tube, to which
physiologists have perhaps not paid attention enough.
The jaws furnish saliva, as necessary to mastication as to the
formation of the digestible mass. They, like the palate, are
gifted with a portion of the appreciative faculties; I do not know
that, in certain cases, the nose does not participate, and if but
for the odor which is felt in the back of the mouth, the sensation
of taste would not be obtuse and imperfect.
Persons who have no tongue or who have lost it, yet preserve the
sensation of taste. All the books mention the first case; the
second was explained to me by an unfortunate man, whose tongue had
been cut out by the Algerines for having, with several of his
companions, formed a plot to escape from captivity.
I met this man at Amsterdam, where he was a kind of broker. He was
a person of education, and by writing was perfectly able to make
Observing that his whole tongue, to the very attachment, had been
cut away, I asked him if he yet preserved any sense of taste when
he ate, and if the sense of taste had survived the cruel operation
he had undergone.
He told me his greatest annoyance was in swallowing, (which indeed
was difficult;) that he had a full appreciation of tastes and
flavors, but that acid and bitter substances produced intense
He told me the abscission of the tongue was very common in the
African kingdoms, and was made use of most frequently to punish
those thought to be the leaders of any plot, and that they had
peculiar instruments to affect it with. I wished him to describe
them, but he showed such painful reluctance in this matter, that I
did not insist.
I reflected on what he said, and ascending to the centuries of
ignorance, when the tongues of blasphemers were cut and pierced, I
came to the conclusion that these punishments were of Moorish
origin, and were imported by the crusaders.
We have seen above, that the sensation of taste resided chiefly in
the pores and feelers of the tongue. Anatomy tells us that all
tongues are not exactly alike, there being three times as many
feelers in some tongues as in others. This circumstance will
explain why one of two guests, sitting at the same table, is
delighted, while the other seems to eat from constraint; the
latter has a tongue but slightly provided. These are recognized in
the empire of the taste--both deaf and dumb.
SENSATION OF TASTE.
Five or six opinions have been advanced as to the modus operandi
of the sensation of taste. I have mine, viz:
The sensation of taste is a chemical operation, produced by
humidity. That is to say, the savorous particles must be dissolved
in some fluid, so as to be subsequently absorbed by the nervous
tubes, feelers, or tendrils, which cover the interior of the
This system, whether true or not, is sustained by physical and
almost palpable proofs.
Pure water creates no sensation, because it contains no sapid
particle. Dissolve, however, a grain of salt, or infuse a few
drops of vinegar, and there will be sensation.
Other drinks, on the contrary, create sensation because they are
neither more nor less than liquids filled with appreciable
It would be in vain for the mouth to fill itself with the divided
particles of an insoluble body. The tongue would feel by touch the
sensation of their presence, but not that of taste.
In relation to solid and savorous bodies, it is necessary in the
first place for the teeth to divide them, that the saliva and
other tasting fluids to imbibe them, and that the tongue press
them against the palate, so as to express a juice, which, when
sufficiently saturated by the degastory tendrils, deliver to the
substance the passport it requires for admission into the stomach.
This system, which will yet receive other developments, replies
without effort to the principal questions which may present
If we demand what is understood by sapid bodies, we reply that it
is every thing that has flavor, which is soluble, and fit to be
absorbed by the organ of taste.
If asked how a sapid body acts, we reply that it acts when it is
reduced to such a state of dissolution that it enters the cavities
made to receive it.
In a word, nothing is sapid but what is already or nearly
The number of flavors is infinite, for every soluble body has a
peculiar flavor, like none other.
Flavors are also modified by their simple, double, or multiple
aggregation. It is impossible to make any description, either of
the most pleasant or of the most unpleasant, of the raspberry or
of colocynth. All who have tried to do so have failed.
This result should not amaze us, for being gifted with an infinite
variety of simple flavors, which mixture modifies to such a number
and to such a quantity, a new language would he needed to express
their effects, and mountains of folios to describe them. Numerical
character alone could label them.
Now, as yet, no flavor has ever been appreciated with rigorous
exactness, we have been forced to be satisfied with a limited
number of expressions such as SWEET, SUGARY, ACID, BITTER, and
similar ones, which, when ultimately analyzed, are expressed by
the two following AGREEABLE and DISAGREEABLE, which suffice to
make us understood, and indicate the flavor of the sapid
substances referred to.
Those who come after us will know more, for doubtless chemistry
will reveal the causes or primitive elements of flavors.
INFLUENCE OF SMELLING ON THE TASTE.
The order I marked out for myself has insensibly led me to the
moment to render to smell the rights which belong to it, and to
recognise the important services it renders to taste and the
application of flavors. Among the authors I have met with, I
recognise none as having done full justice to it.
For my own part, I am not only persuaded that without the
interposition of the organs of smell, there would be no complete
degustation, and that the taste and the sense of smell form but
one sense, of which the mouth is the laboratory and the nose the
chimney; or to speak more exactly, that one tastes tactile
substances, and the other exhalations.
This may be vigorously defended; yet as I do not wish to establish
a school, I venture on it only to give my readers a subject of
thought, and to show that I have carefully looked over the subject
of which I write. Now I continue my demonstration of the
importance of the sense of smell, if not as a constituent portion
of taste, at least as a necessary adjunct.
All sapid bodies are necessarily odorous, and therefore belong as
well to the empire of the one as of the other sense.
We eat nothing without seeing this, more or less plainly. The nose
plays the part of sentinel, and always cries "WHO GOES THERE?"
Close the nose, and the taste is paralyzed; a thing proved by
three experiments any one can make:
1. When the nasal membrane is irritated by a violent coryza (cold
in the head) the taste is entirely obliterated. There is no taste
in anything we swallow, yet the tongue is in its normal state.
2. If we close the nose when we eat, we are amazed to see how
obscure and imperfect the sense of touch is. The most disgusting
medicines thus are swallowed almost without taste.
3. The same effect is observed if, as soon as we have swallowed,
instead of restoring the tongue to its usual place, it be kept
detached from the palate. Thus the circulation of the air is
intercepted, the organs of smell are not touched, and there is no
These effects have the same cause, from the fact that the sense of
smell does not co-operate with the taste. The sapid body is
appreciated only on account of the juice, and not for the odorous
gas which emanates from it.
ANALYSIS OF THE SENSATION OF TASTE.
Principles being thus determined, I look on it as certain that
taste has given place to sensations of three different orders,
viz: DIRECT, COMPLETE and REFLECTED.
Direct sensation is the first perception emanating from the
intermediate organs of the mouth, during the time that the sapid
body rests on the tongue.
Complete sensation is that composed of the first impression which
is created when the food abandons this first position, passes into
the back of the mouth, and impresses all the organ with both taste
Reflected sensation is the judgment which conveys to the soul the
impressions transmitted to it by the organ.
Let us put this system in action by observing what takes place
when a man either eats or drinks. Let a man, for instance, eat a
peach, and he will first be agreeably impressed by the odor which
emanates from it. He places it in his mouth, and acid and fresh
flavors induce him to continue. Not, though, until he has
swallowed it, does the perfume reveal itself, nor does he till
then discover the peculiar flavor of every variety. Some time is
necessary for any gourmet [Footnote: Any gentleman or lady, who
may please, is at perfect liberty to translate the word gourmet
into any other tongue. I cannot. As much may be said of gourmand.-
-TRANSLATOR.] to say, "It is good, passable, or bad. It is
Chambertin, or something else."
It may then be seen that in obedience to principles and practice
well understood, true amateurs sip their wine. Every mouthful thus
gives them the sum total of pleasure which they would not have
enjoyed had they swallowed it at once.
The same thing takes place, with however much more energy, when
the taste is disagreeably affected.
Just look at the patient of some doctor who prescribes immense
doses of black medicine, such as were given during the reign of
The sense of smell, like a faithful counsellor, foretells its
character. The eyes expand as they do at the approach of danger;
disgust is on the lips and the stomach at once rebells. He is
however besought to take courage, gurgles his throat with brandy,
closes his nose and swallows.
As long as the odious compound fills the mouth and stuns the organ
it is tolerable, but when it has been swallowed the after drops
develop themselves, nauseous odors arise, and every feature of the
patient expresses horror and disgust, which the fear of death
alone could induce him to bear.
If the draught be on the contrary merely insipid, as for instance
a glass of water, there is neither taste nor after taste. Nothing
is felt, nothing is experienced, it is swallowed, and all is over.
ORDER OF THE IMPRESSIONS OF TASTE.
Taste is not so richly endowed as the hearing; the latter can
appreciate and compare many sounds at once; the taste on the
contrary is simple in its action; that is to say it cannot be
sensible to two flavors at once.
It may though be doubled and multipled by succession, that is to
say that in the act of swallowing there may be a second and even a
third sensation, each of which gradually grows weaker and weaker
and which are designated by the words AFTER-TASTE, perfume or
fragrance. Thus when a chord is struck, one ear exercises and
discharges many series of consonances, the number of which is not
as yet perfectly known.
Those who eat quickly and without attention, do not discern
impressions of the second degree. They belong only to a certain
number of the elect, and by the means of these second sensations
only can be classed the different substances submitted to their
These fugitive shadows for a long time vibrate in the organ of
taste. The professors, beyond doubt, always assume an appropriate
position, and when they give their opinions they always do so with
expanded nostrils, and with their necks protruded far as they can
ENJOYMENTS DUE TO THE TASTE.
Let us now look philosophically at the pleasure and pain
occasioned by taste.
The first thing we become convinced of is that man is organized so
as to be far more sensible of pain than of pleasure.
In fact the imbibing of acid or bitter substances subjects us to
sensations more or less painful, according to their degree. It is
said that the cause of the rapid effects of hydrocyanic acid is
that the pain is so great as to be unbearable by the powers of
The scale of agreeable sensations on the other hand is very
limited, and if there, be a sensible difference between the
insipid and that which flatters the taste, the interval is not so
great between the good and the excellent. The following example
proves this:--FIRST TERM a Bouilli dry and hard. SECOND TERM a
piece of veal. THIRD TERM a pheasant done to a turn.
Of all the senses though with which we have been endowed by
nature, the taste is the one, which all things considered,
procures us the most enjoyments.
1. Because the pleasure of eating is the only one, when moderately
enjoyed, not followed, by fatigue.
2. It belongs to all aeras, ages and ranks.
3. Because it necessarily returns once a day, and may without
inconvenience be twice or thrice repeated in the same day.
4. It mingles with all other pleasures, and even consoles us for
5. Because the impressions it receives are durable and dependant
on, our will.
6. Because when we eat we receive a certain indefinable and
peculiar impression of happiness originating in instinctive
conscience. When we eat too, we repair our losses and prolong our
This will be more carefully explained in the chapter we devote to
the pleasures of the table, considered as it has been advanced by
SUPREMACY OF MAN.
We were educated in the pleasant faith that of all things that
walk, swim, crawl, or fly, man has the most perfect taste.
This faith is liable to be shaken.
Dr. Gall, relying on I know not what examinations, says there are
many animals with the gustatory apparatus more developed and
extended than man's.
This does not sound well and looks like heresy. Man, jure divino,
king of all nature, for the benefit of whom the world was peopled,
must necessarily be supplied with an organ which places him in
relation to all that is sapid in his subjects.
The tongue of animals does not exceed their intelligence; in
fishes the tongue is but a movable bone, in birds it is usually a
membranous cartilage, and in quadrupeds it is often covered with
scales and asperities, and has no circumflex motion.
The tongue of man on the contrary, from the delicacy of its
texture and the different membranes by which it is surrounded and
which are near to it announces the sublimity of the operations to
which it is destined.
I have, at least, discovered three movements unknown to animals,
which I call SPICATION, ROTATION and VERRATION (from the Latin
verb verro, I sweep). The first is when the tongue, like a PIKE,
comes beyond the lips which repress it. The second is when the
tongue rotates around all the space between the interior of the
jaws and the palate. The third is when the tongue moves up and
down and gathers the particles which remain in the half circular
canal formed by the lips and gums.
Animals are limited in their taste; some live only on vegetables,
others on flesh; others feed altogether on grain; none know
anything of composite flavors.
Man is omnivorous. All that is edible is subjected to his vast
appetite, a thing which causes gustatory powers proportionate to
the use he has to make of them. The apparatus of taste is a rare
perfection of man and we have only to see him use it to be
satisfied of it.
As soon as any esculent body is introduced into the mouth it is
confiscated hopelessly, gas, juice and all.
The lips prevent its retrogression. The teeth take possession of
it and crush it. The salva imbibes it; the tongue turns it over
and over, an aspiration forces it to the thorax; the tongue lifts
it up to suffer it to pass. The sense of smell perceives it en
route, and it is precipitated into the stomach to undergo ulterior
transformations, without the most minute fragment during the whole
of this escaping. Every drop every atom has been appreciated.
In consequence of this perfection, gourmandise is the exclusive
apanage of man.
This gourmandise is even contagious, and we impart it without
difficulty to the animals we have appropriated to our use, and
which in a manner associate with us, such as elephants, dogs,
cats, and parrots even.
Besides taste requiring to be estimated only by the value of the
sensation it communicates to the common centre, the impression
received by the animal cannot be compared to that imparted to man.
The latter is more precise and clear, and necessarily supposes a
superior quality in the organ which transmits it.
In fine, what can we desire in a faculty susceptible of such
perfection that the gourmands of Rome were able to distinguish the
flavors of fish taken above and below the bridge? Have we not seen
in our own time, that gourmands can distinguish the flavor of the
thigh on which the partridge lies down from the other? Are we not
surrounded by gourmets who can tell the latitude in which any wine
ripened as surely as one of Biot's or Arago's disciples can
foretell an eclipse?
The consequence then is that we must render to Caesar the things
which are Caesar's and proclaim man the great GOURMAND OF NATURE,
and not be surprised if the good Doctor does sometimes as Homer
did:--"Much zumeilen ichlafert der gute."
METHOD OF THE AUTHOR.
As yet we have treated the taste only from the physical point of
view, and in some anatomical details which none will regret, we
have remained pari passu with science. This does not however
conclude the task we have imposed on ourselves, for from its usual
attributes especially does this reparatory sense derive its
We have then arranged in analytical order the theories and facts
which compose the ensemble of this history, so that instruction
without fatigue will result from it.
Thus in the following chapters, we will often show how sensations
by repetition and reflection have perfected the organs and
extended the sphere of our powers. How the want of food, once a
mere instinct, has become a passion which has assumed a marked
ascendency of all that belongs to society
We will also say, how all sciences which have to do with the
composition of substances, have agreed to place in a separate
category all those appreciable to the taste; and how travellers
have followed in the same pathway when they placed before us
substances nature apparently never meant us to see.
We will follow chemistry to the very moment when it penetrated our
subterraneous laboratories to enlighten our PREPARERS, to
establish principles, to create methods and to unveil causes which
had remained occult.
In fine we will see by the combined power of time and experience
that a new science has all at once appeared, which feeds,
nourishes, restores, preserves, persuades, consoles, and not
content with strewing handsfull of flowers over the individual,
contributes much to the power and prosperity of empires.
If, amid the grave lucubrations, a piquante anecdote, or an
agreeable reminiscence of a stormy life drips from my pen, we will
let it remain to enable the attention to rest for a moment, so
that our readers, the number of whom does not alarm us, may have
time to breathe. We would like to chat with them. If they be men
we know they are indulgent as they are well informed. If women
they must be charming. [Footnote: Here the Professor, full of his
subject, suffers his hand to fall and rises to the seventh heaven.
He ascends the torrent of ages, and takes from their cradle all
sciences, the object of which is the gratification of taste. He
follows their progress through the night of time and seeing that
in the pleasures they procure us, early centures were not so great
as those which followed them: he takes his lyre and sings in the
Dorian style the elegy which will be found among the varieties at
the end of the volume.]
ORIGIN OF SCIENCES.
THE sciences are not like Minerva who started ready armed from the
brain of Jupiter. They are children of time and are formed
insensibly by the collection of the methods pointed out by
experience, and at a later day by the principles deduced from the
combination of these methods.
Thus old men, the prudence of whom caused them to be called to the
bed-side of invalids, whose compassion taught to cure wounds, were
the first physicians.
The shepherds of Egypt, who observed that certain stars after the
lapse of a certain period of time met in the heavens, were the
The person who first uttered in simple language the truth, 2 + 2 =
4 created mathematics, that mighty science which really placed man
on the throne of the universe.
In the course of the last sixty years, many new sciences have
taken their place in the category of our knowledge, among which is
stereotomy, descriptive geometry, and the chemistry of gas.
All sciences cultivated for a long time must advance, especially
as the art of printing makes retrogression impossible. Who knows,
for instance, if the chemistry of gases will not ultimately
overcome those, as yet, rebellious substances, mingle and combine
them in proportions not as yet tempted, and thence obtain
substances and effects which would remove many restrictions in our
ORIGIN OF GASTRONOMY.
Gastronomy has at last appeared, and all the sister sciences have
made a way for it.
Well; what could be refused to that which sustains us, from the
cradle to the grave, which increases the gratifications of love
and the confidence of friendship which disarms hatred and offers
us, in the short passage of our lives, the only pleasure which not
being followed by fatigue makes us weary of all others.
Certainly, as long as it was confided to merely hired attendants,
as long as the secret was kept in cellars, and where dispensaries
were written, the results were but the products of an art.
At last, too late, perhaps, savants drew near.
They examined, analyzed, and classified alimentary substances, and
reduced them to simple elements.
They measured the mysteries of assimilation, and following most
matter in all its metamorphoses saw how it became vivified.
They watched diet in its temporary and permanent effects, for
days, months and lives.
They even estimated its influence and thought to ascertain if the
savor he impressed by the organs or if it acts without them. From
all this they deduced a lofty theory which embraces all mankind,
and all that portion of creation which may be animalized.
While all this was going on in the studies of savants, it was said
in drawing-rooms that the science which fed man was at least as
valuable as that which killed him. Poets sang the pleasures of the
table and books, the object of which was good cheer, awakened the
greatest and keenest interest in the profound views and maxims
Such were the circumstances which preceded the invention of
DEFINITION OF GASTRONOMY.
Gastronomy is a scientific definition of all that relates to man
as a feeding animal.
Its object is to watch over the preservation of man by means of
the best possible food.
It does so by directing, according to certain principles, all
those who procure, search for, or prepare things which may be
converted into food.
To tell the truth this is what moves cultivators, vine-dressers,
fishermen, huntsmen, and the immense family of cooks, whatever
title or qualification they bear, to the preparation of food.
Gastronomy is a chapter of natural history, for the fact that it
makes a classification of alimentary substances.
Of physics, for it examines their properties and qualities.
Of chemistry, from the various analysis and decomposition to which
it subjects them.
Of cookery, from the fact that it prepares food and makes it
Of commerce, from the fact that it purchases at as low a rate as
possible what it consumes, and displays to the greatest advantage
what it offers for sale.
Lastly it is a chapter of political economy, from the resources it
furnishes the taxing power, and the means of exchange it
substitutes between nations.
Gastronomy rules all life, for the tears of the infant cry for the
bosom of the nurse; the dying man receives with some degree of
pleasure the last cooling drink, which, alas! he is unable to
It has to do with all classes of society, for if it presides over
the banquets of assembled kings, it calculates the number of
minutes of ebullition which an egg requires.
The material of gastronomy is all that may be eaten; its object is
direct, the preservation of individuals. Its means of execution
are cultivation, which produces; commerce, which exchanges;
industry, which prepares; and experience, which teaches us to put
them to the best use.
DIFFERENT OBJECTS OF GASTRONOMY.
Gastronomy considers taste in its pleasures and in its pains. It
has discovered the gradual excitements of which it is susceptible;
it regularizes its action, and has fixed limits, which a man who
respects himself will never pass.
It also considers the action of food or aliments on the moral of
man, on his imagination, his mind, his judgment, his courage, and
his perceptions, whether he is awake, sleeps, acts, or reposes.
Gastronomy determines the degree of esculence of every alimentary
subject; all are not presentable under the same circumstances.
Some can be eaten until they are entirely developed. Such like as
capres, asparagus, sucking pigs, squabs, and other animals eaten
only when they are young.
Others, as soon as they have reached all the perfection to which
they are destined, like melons, fruit, mutton, beef, and grown
animals. Others when they begin to decompose, such as snipe, wood-
cock and pheasant. Others not until cooking has destroyed all
their injurious properties, such as the potato, manioc, and other
Gastronomy classifies all of these substances according to their
qualities, and indicates those which will mingle, and measuring
the quantity of nourishment they contain, distinguishes those
which should make the basis of our repast, from those which are
only accessories, and others which, though not necessary, are an
agreeable relief, and become the obligato accompaniment of
It takes no less interest in the beverages intended for us,
according to time, place and climate. It teaches their preparation
and preservation, and especially presents them in an order so
exactly calculated, that the pleasure perpetually increases, until
gratification ends and abuse begins.
Gastronomy examines men and things for the purpose of
transporting, from one country to another, all that deserves to be
known, and which causes a well arranged entertainment, to be an
abridgement of the world in which each portion is represented.
UTILITY OF GASTRONOMICAL KNOWLEDGE.
Gastronomical knowledge is necessary to all men, for it tends to
augment the sum of happiness. This utility becomes the greater in
proportion as it is used by the more comfortable classes of
society; it is indispensable to those who have large incomes, and
entertain a great deal, either because in this respect they
discharge an obligation, follow their own inclination, or yield to
They have this special advantage, that they take personal pleasure
in the manner their table is kept; they can, to a certain point,
superintend the depositories of their confidence, and even on many
occasions direct them.
The Prince de Soubise once intended to give an entertainment, and
asked for the bill of fare.
The maitre d'hotel came with a list surrounded by vignettes, and
the first article that met the Prince's eye was FIFTY HAMS.
"Bertrand," said the Prince, "I think you must be extravagant;
fifty hams! Do you intend to feast my whole regiment?"
"No, Prince, there will be but one on the table, and the surplus I
need for my epagnole, my blonds, garnitures, etc."
"Bertrand, you are robbing me. This article will not do."
"Monsigneur," said the artist, "you do not appreciate me! Give the
order, and I will put those fifty hams in a chrystal flask no
longer than my thumb."
What could be said to such a positive operation? The Prince
smiled, and the hams were passed.
INFLUENCE OF GASTRONOMY IN BUSINESS.
In men not far removed from a state of nature, it is well known
that all important affairs are discussed at their feasts. Amid
their festivals savages decide on war and peace; we need not go
far to know that villages decide on all public affairs at the
This observation has not escaped those to whom the weightiest
affairs are often confided. They saw that a full stomached
individual was very different from a fasting one; that the table
established a kind of alliance between the parties, and made
guests more apt to receive certain impressions and submit to
certain influences. This was the origin of political gastronomy.
Entertainments have become governmental measures, and the fate of
nations is decided on in a banquet. This is neither a paradox nor
a novelty but a simple observation of fact. Open every historian,
from the time of Herodotus to our own days, and it will be seen
that, not even excepting conspiracies, no great event ever took
place, not conceived, prepared and arranged at a festival.
Such, at the first glance, appears to be the domain of gastronomy,
a realm fertile in results of every kind and which is aggrandized
by the discoveries and inventions of those who cultivate it. It is
certain that before the lapse of many years, gastronomy will have
its academicians, courses, professors, and premiums.
At first some rich and zealous gastronomer will establish
periodical assemblies, in which the most learned theorists will
unite with artists, to discuss and measure the various branches of
Soon (such is the history of all academies) the government will
intervene, will regularise, protect, and institute; it will seize
the opportunity to reward the people for all orphans made by war,
for all the Arianas whose tears have been evoked by the drum.
Happy will be the depository of power who will attach his name to
this necessary institution! His name will be repeated from age to
age with that of Noah, Bacchus, Triptolemus, and other benefactors
of humanity; he will be among ministers what Henri IV. was among
kings; his eulogy will be in every mouth, though no regulation
make it a necessity.
DEFINITION OF APPETITE.
MOTION and life occasion in the animal portion of all that lives a
constant loss of substance, and the human body, that most
complicated machine, would soon be unfit for use, did not
Providence provide it with a mark to inform it of the very moment
when its power is no longer in equilibrium with its wants.
This monitor is appetite. By this word we understand the first
impression of the want of food.
Appetite declares itself by languor in the stomach, and a slight
sensation of fatigue.
The soul at the same time busies itself with things analogous to
its wants; memory recalls food that has flattered its taste;
imagination fancies that it sees them, and something like a dream
takes place. This state is not without pleasure, and we have heard
many adepts say, with joy in their heart, "What a pleasure it is
to have a good appetite, when we are certain of a good meal."
The whole nutritive apparatus is moved. The stomach becomes
sensible, the gastric juices are moved and displace themselves
with noise, the mouth becomes moist, and all the digestive powers
are under arms, like soldiers awaiting the word of command. After
a few moments there will be spasmodic motion, pain and hunger.
Every shade of these gradations may be observed in every drawing-
room, when dinner is delayed.
They are such in nature, that the most exquisite politeness cannot
disguise the symptoms. From this fact I deduced the apothegm, "THE
MOST INDISPENSABLE QUALITY OF A GOOD COOK IS PROMPTNESS."
I will sustain this grave maxim by the details of an observate,
made at an entertainment where I was,
"Quorum magna pars fui,"
and where the pleasures of observation preserved me from the
anguish of misery.
I was invited to dine with a high public functionary. The hour was
half past five, and at the appointed time all were present. We
knew he liked exactness, and always scolded the dilatory.
I was amazed, when I came, at the consternation which pervaded the
party. People whispered together, and looked into the court-yard
through the window--all betokened something extraordinary.
I approached the one of the guests I thought best able to satisfy
my curiosity, and asked him what the news was.
"Alas!" said they, "Monsieur has been sent for to the Council of
State; he has just gone, and none know when he will return."
"Is that all!" said I. "Be of good cheer, we will be detained only
a quarter of an hour; something particular has happened. All know
to-day is his regular dinner, and we will not have to fast." I was
not, however, easy, and wished I was away.
The first hour passed well enough, and those who were intimate sat
together. Common places were exhausted, and conjectures were
formed as to what could have called the Prince to the Tuilleries
At the commencement of the second hour there were many signs of
impatience; people looked anxiously at each other and the first
who murmured were three or four guests who, finding no place to
sit in, were not in a convenient position to wait.
At the third hour, the discontent became general, and every
symptom became exaggerated. "When will he return?" said one. "What
can he be thinking of?" said another. "This is death," said a
third. This question was then put, but not determined, "Shall we
go or not?"
At the fourth hour every symptom became aggravated. People
stretched out their arms without the slightest regard whether they
interrupted their neighbors or not. Unpleasant sounds were heard
from all parts of the room, and everywhere the faces of the guests
bore the marks of concentration. No one listened to me when I
remarked that beyond doubt our absent amphytrion was more unhappy
than any one of us.
Our attention was for a moment arrested by an apparition. One of
the guests, better acquainted with the house than the others, had
gone into the kitchen, and returned panting. His face looked as if
the day of judgment had come, and in an almost inarticulate voice,
which announced at once both the fear of making a noise and of not
being heard, "Monsigneur went away without giving any orders, and
happen what may, dinner will not be served until his return."
The terror caused by what he said could not be exceeded by that to
be expected at the last trump.
Among the martyrs, the most unfortunate was D'Aigrefeuille, whom
all Paris knew. His whole body seemed to suffer, and the agony of
Laocoon was marked on his face. Pale, terrified, he saw nothing
but sank in a chair, grasped his hands on his round stomach, and
closed his eyes, not to sleep but to die.
He did not though. About ten o'clock a carriage drove into the
yard. All were on the qui-vive and a arose spontaneously. Hilarity
succeeded suffering, and in five minutes we were at the table.
Appetite however was gone, all seemed amazed to sit down to dinner
at such an unusual hour; the jaws had not that isochronous measure
which announces a regular business. I know many were sufferers
The course to be taken is not to eat immediately after the
obstacle has ceased, but to drink a glass of eau-sucree, or take a
plate of soup to sustain the stomach, and then in ten or fifteen
minutes to begin dinner, to prevent the stomach being oppressed by
the weight of the aliments with which it is surcharged.
When we see in early books a description of the preparations made
to receive two or three persons, and the enormous masses served up
to a single guest, we cannot refuse to think that those who lived
in early ages were gifted with great appetites.
The appetite was thought to increase in direct ratio to the
dignity of the personage. He to whom the saddle of a five year old
ox would be served was expected to drink from a cup he could
Some individuals have existed who testified to what once passed,
and have collected details of almost incredible variety, which
included even the foulest objects.
I will not inflict these disgusting details on my readers, and
prefer to tell them two particular circumstances which I
witnessed, and which do not require any great exertion of faith.
About forty years ago, I made a short visit to the cure at
Bregnier, a man of immense stature and who had a fearful appetite.
Though it was scarcely noon I found him at the table. Soup and
bouilli had been brought on, to these two indispensables had
succeeded a leg of mutton a la Royale, a capon and a salad.
As soon as he saw me he ordered a plate which I refused, and
rightly too. Without any assistance he got rid of every thing,
viz: he picked the bone of mutton and ate up all the salad.
They brought him a large white cheese into which he made an
angular breach measured by an arc of ninety degrees. He washed
down all with a bottle of wine and glass of water, after which he
What pleased me was to see that during the whole of this business,
the venerable pastor did not seem busy. The large mouthfulls he
swallowed did not prevent him either from laughing or talking. He
dispatched all that was put before him easily as he would have a
pair of birds.
So it was with General Bisson who drank eight bottles of wine at
dinner every day, and who never appeared the worse for it. He had
a glass larger than usual and emptied it oftener. He did not care
for that though, for after having swallowed six ounces of fluids
he could jest and give his orders as if he had only swallowed a
This anecdote recalls to me my townsman, General P. Sibuet, long
the chief aide of Napoleon, and who was killed in 1813 at the
passage of the Bober.
He was eighteen years old, and had at that time the appetite by
which nature announces that its possessor is a perfect man, and
went one night into the kitchen of Genin, an inn keeper of Belley,
where the old men of the town used to meet to eat chestnuts and
drink the new white wine called in the country vin bourru.
The old men were not hungry and paid no attention to him. His
digestive powers were not shaken though, and he said "I have just
left the table, but I will bet that I eat a whole turkey."
"If you eat it I will pay for it," said Bouvier du Bouchet, a rich
farmer who was present, "and if you do not I will eat what is left
and you shall pay for it." [Footnote: This sentence is patois, and
the translator inserts the original. "Sez vosu meze, z'u payo,
repondit Bouvier du Bouchet, gros fermier qui se trouvait present;
e sez vos caca en rotaz, i-zet vo ket paire et may ket mezerai la
They set to work at once, and the young athlete at once cut off a
wing, he ate it at two mouthfulls and cleaned his teeth by gnawing
the bone and drank a glass of wine as an interlude.
He then went into the thigh which he ate and drank another glass
of wine to prepare a passage for the rest. The second went the
same way, and he had come to the last limb when the unfortunate
farmer said, "alas! I see it is all over, but Mr. Sibouet as I
have to pay, let me eat a bit." [Footnote: This also is patois.
"Hai! ze vaie praou qu'izet fotu; m'ez, monche Chibouet, poez kaet
zu daive paiet, lesse m'en a m'en mesiet on mocho."]
Prosper was as good a fellow as he was a soldier, and consented.
The farmer had the carcass at spolia opima, and paid for the fowl
with a good grace.
General Sibuet used always to love to tell of this feat of his
youth. He said that his admitting the farmer to eat was a pure
courtesy, and that he could easily have won the bet. His appetite
at forty permitted none to doubt the assertion.
Brillat-Savarin, says in a note, "I quote this fragment of the
patois of Bugey with pleasure. In it is found the English 'th and
the Greek 0, and in the word praou and others, a dipthong existing
in no language, the sound of which no character can describe."
(See 3d Volume of the Memoirs of the Royal Society of Antiquarians
FOOD IN GERMS.
WHAT is understood by aliments?
POPULAR ANSWER. All that nourishes us.
SCIENTIFIC ANSWER. By aliments are understood the substances
which, when submitted to the stomach, may be assimulated by
digestion, and repair the losses which the human body is subjected
to in life.
The distinctive quality of an aliment, therefore, is its liability
to animal assimulation.
The animal and vegetable kingdoms are those which until now have
furnished food to the human race.
Since analytical chemistry has become a certain science, much
progress has been made into the double nature of the elements of
which our body is composed, and of the substances which nature
appears to have intended to repair their losses.
These studies had a great analogy, for man is to a great degree
composed both of the substances on which animals feed, and was
also forced to look in the vegetable kingdom for affinities
susceptible of animalization.
In these two walks the most praiseworthy efforts have been made
always as minute as possible, and the curious have followed either
the human body or the food which invigorates it, first to their
secondary principles, and then to their elements, beyond which we
have not been permitted to penetrate.
Here I intended to have given a little treatise on alimentary
chemistry, and to tell my readers, to how many thousands of
hydrogen, carbon, etc., may be reduced the dishes that sustain us.
I did not do so, however, because I remembered I would only have
to copy many excellent treatises on chemistry in the hands of
every body. I feared, too, that I would relapse into very barren
details, and limited myself to a very reasonable nomenclature,
which will only require the explanation of a small number of very
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science,
is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what
Osmazome is the purely sapid portion of flesh soluble in cold
water, and separated from the extractive portion which is only
soluble in boiling water.
Osmazome is the most meritorious ingredient of all good soups.
This portion of the animal forms the red portion of flesh, and the
solid parts of roasts. It gives game and venison its peculiar
Osmazome is most abundant in grown animals which have red or black
hair; it is scarcely found at all in the lamb, sucking pig,
chicken, and the white meat of the largest fowls. For this reason
true connoisseurs always prefer the second joint; instinct with
them was the precursor of science.
Thus a knowledge of the existence of osmazome, caused so many
cooks to be dismissed, who insisted on always throwing away the
first bouillon made from meat. This made the reputation of the
soupe des primes, and induced the canon Chevrier to invent his
locked kettles. The Abbe Chevrier was the person who never would
eat until Friday, lobsters that had not been cooked on the
previous Sunday, and every intervening day placed on the fire with
the addition of fresh butter.
To make use of this subject, though yet unknown, was introduced
the maxim, that to make good bouillon the kettle should only
Osmazome, discovered after having been so long the delight of our
fathers, may be compared to alcohol, which made whole generations
drunk before it was simply exhibited by distillation.
PRINCIPLE OF ALIMENTS.
The fibre is what composes the tissue of the meat, and what is
apparent after the juices have been extracted. The fibres resist
boiling water, and preserve their form, though stripped of a
portion of their wrappings. To carve meat properly the fibres
should be cut at right angles, or nearly so, with the blade of the
knife. Meat thus carved looks better, tastes better, and is more
The bones are composed principally of gelatine and the phosphate
The quantity of gelatine diminishes as we grow older. At seventy
the bones are but an imperfect marble, the reason why they are so
easily broken, and why old men should carefully avoid any fall.
Albumen is found both in the flesh and the blood. It coagulates at
a heat above 40 Reaumur, and causes the scum on the pot-au-feu.
Gelatine is also found in the bones, the soft and the
cartilaginous parts. Its distinctive quality is to coagulate at
the ordinary temperature of the atmosphere; to effect this only
two and a half per cent. are needed.
Gelatine is the basis of all jelleys, of blanc manges, and other
Grease is a concrete oil formed in the interstices of the cellary
tissue. It sometimes agglomerates in animals whom art or nature
has so predisposed, such as pigs, fowls, ortolans and snipe. In
some of these animals it loses its insipidity and acquires a
slight and agreeable aroma.
Blood is composed of an albuminous serum and of fibrine, some
gelatine and a little osmazome. It coagulates in warm water and is
most nourishing, (e. g.) the blood pudding.
All the principles, we have passed in review, are common to man
and to animals which feed.
All the principles we pass in review are common both to man and
animals which he eats. It is not then surprising that animal food
is eminently restorative and invigorating. The particles of which
it is composed having a great similitude with those of which we
are formed may easily be animalized when they are subjected to the
vital action of our digestive organs.
The vegetable kingdom however presents not less varied sources of
The fecula is especially nutritious, especially as it contains
fewer foreign principles.
By fecula we mean farina or flower obtained from cereals, from
legumes and various kinds of roots, among which the potato holds a
The fecula is the substance of bread, pastry and purees of all
kinds. It thus enters to a great degree into the nourishment of
almost all people.
Such food diminishes the fibres and even the courage. [Footnote:
The H. E. I. Co. Sepoys, however, fight well. It may be doubted
though if either Ireland or Italy will be free, until the one
gives up the potato and the other macaroni. The reason why
Irishmen fight better in other countries than their own, is
possibly that abroad they are better fed than at home.] We must,
to sustain this, refer to the Indians (East) who live on rice and
serve every one who chosea to command them.
Almost all domestic animals eat the fecula, and are made by it
extremely strong; for it is a more substantial nourishment than
the dry and green vegetables which are their habitual food.
Sugar is not less important, either as a remedy or as an aliment.
This substance once obtained, either from the Indies or from the
colonies became indigenous at the commencement of this century. It
has been discovered in the grape, the turnip, the chestnut, and
especially in the beet. So that speaking strictly Europe need
appeal neither to India or America for it. Its discovery was a
great service rendered by science to humanity, and furnishes an
example which cannot but have the happiest results. (Vide enfro
Sugar, either in a solid state or in the different plants in which
nature has placed it, is extremely nourishing. Animals are fond of
it, and the English give large quantities to their blood-horses,
and have observed that it sustained them in the many trials to
which they were subjected.
Sugar in the days of Louis XIV. was only found in apothecary
shops, and gave birth to many lucrative professions, such as
pastry-cooks, confectioners, liquourists, &c. Mild oils also come
from the vegetable kingdom. They are all esculent, but when
mingled with other substances they should be looked on only as a
seasoning. Gluten found in the greatest abundance in cheese,
contributes greatly to the fermentation of the bread with which it
is united. Chemists assign it an animal nature.
They make at Paris for children and for birds, and in some of the
departments for men also, patisseries in which gluten
predominates, the fecula having been removed by water.
Mucilage owes its nourishments to the many substances of which it
is the vehicle.
Gum may be considered an aliment, not a strong thing, as it
contains nearly the same elements as sugar.
Vegetable gelatine, extracted from many kinds of fruits,
especially from apples, goose-berries, quinces, and some others,
may also be considered a food. It is more nutritious when united
with sugar, but it is far inferior in that respect to what is
extracted from bones, horns, calves' feet and fish. This food is
in general light, mild and healthy. The kitchen and the
pharmaceutist's laboratory therefore dispute about it.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAT AND LEAN.
Next to the JUICE, which, as we have said, is composed of asmazome
and the extractus, there are found in fish many substances which
also exist in land animals, such as fibrine, gelatine, albumen. So
that we may really say JUICE distinguishes the flesh diet from
what the church calls maigre.
The latter too has another peculiarity. Fish contains a large
quantity of phosphorus and hydrogen, that is to say of the two
most combustible things in nature. Fish therefore is a most
heating diet. This might legitimate the praise once bestowed on
certain religious orders, the regime of whom was directly opposed
to the commonly esteemed most fragile.
I will say no more on this physiological fact, but will not omit
an instance which may be easily verified.
Some years ago I went to a country house, in the vicinity of
Paris, and on the Seine, near St. Denis, near a hamlet composed
chiefly of fishing huts. I was amazed at the crowd of huts I saw
swarming in the road.
I remarked it with amazement to the boatman who took me across the
"Monsieur," said he, "we have eight families here, have fifty-
three children, among whom are forty-nine girls and four boys.
That one is mine." As he spoke he pointed triumphantly to a little
whelp, of about five years of age, who was at the bow of the boat
eating raw craw-fish.
From this observation I made ten years ago, and others I could
easily recall, I have been led to think that the genesiac sense is
moved by fish-eating, and that it is rather irritating than
plethoric and substantial. I am inclined to maintain this opinion
the more, because Doctor Bailly has recently proved, by many
instances, that when ever the number of female children exceeds
the male, the circumstance is due to some debilitating
circumstances. This will account to us for the jests made from the
beginning of time, whenever a man's wife bears him a daughter
instead of a son.
I might say much about aliments considered as a tout ensemble, and
about the various modifications they undergo by mixing, etc.; I
hope, though, that the preceding will suffice to the majority of
readers. I recommend all others to read some book ex professo, and
will end with the things which are not without interest.
The first is that animalization is affected almost as vegetation
is, that is that the reparative current formed by digestion, is
inhaled in various manners by the tubes with which the organs are
provided, and becomes flesh, nails, hair, precisely as earth,
watered by the same fluid, becomes radish, lettuce, potato,--as
the gardener pleases.
The second is that in the organization of life, the same elements
which chemistry produces are not obtained. The organs destined to
produce life and motion only act on what is subjected to them.
Nature, however, loves to wrap herself in veils, and to stop us at
every advance, and has concealed the laboratory where new
transformations are affected. It is difficult to explain how,
having determined that the human body contained lime, sulphur, and
phosphorous iron, and the other substances, all this CAN be
renewed every ten years by bread and water.
FOOD IN GERMS.
WHEN I began to write, my table of contents was already prepared;
I have advanced slowly, however, because a portion of my time is
consecrated to serious labors.
During this interval of time much of my matter has escaped my
memory, or been wrested from me. Elementary books on chemistry or
materia medica have been put into the hands of every body, and
things I expected to teach for the first time, have become
popular. For instance, I had devoted many pages to the chemistry
of the pot-au-feu, the substance of which is found in many books
Consequently, I had to revise this part of my book, and have so
condensed it that it is reduced to a few elementary principles, to
theories which cannot be too widely propagated, and to sundry
observations, the fruits of a long experience, which I trust will
be new to the majority of my readers.
Section I. POT-AU-FEU, POTAGE, ETC.
Pot-au-feu is a piece of beef, intended to be cooked in boiling
water, slightly salted so as to extract all the soluble parts.
Bouillon is the fluid which remains after the operation.
Bouilli is the flesh after it has undergone the operation.
Water dissolves at first a portion of the osmazome; then the
albumen coagulates at 50 degrees Reaumur, and forms the foam we
see. The rest of the osmazome, with the extractive part of juice,
and finally a portion of the wrapping of the fibres detached by
the continuity of ebullition.
To have good bouillon, the water must be heated slowly, and the
ebullition must be scarcely perceptible, so that the various
particles necessarily dissolved, may unite ultimately and without
It is the custom to add to bouillon, vegetable or roots, to
enhance the taste, and bread or pates to make it more nourishing.
Then it is what is called potage.
Potage is a healthy food, very nourishing, and suits every body;
it pleases the stomach and prepares it for reception and
digestion. Persons threatened with obesity should take bouillon
All agree that no where is potage made so well as in France, and
in my travels I have been able to confirm this assertion. Potage
is the basis of French national diet, and the experience of
centuries has perfected it.
Section II. BOUILLI.
Bouilli is a healthful food, which satisfies hunger readily, is
easily digested, but which when eaten alone restores strength to a
very small degree, because in ebullition the meat has lost much of
its animalizable juices.
We include in four categories the persons who eat bouilli.
1. Men of routine, who eat it because their fathers did, and who,
following this practice implicitly, expect to be imitated by their
2. Impatient men, who, abhorring inactivity at the table, have
contracted the habit of attacking at once whatever is placed
3. The inattentive, who eat whatever is put before them, and look
upon their meals as a labor they have to undergo. All that will
sustain them they put on the same level, and sit at the table as
the oyster does in his bed.
4. The voracious, who, gifted with an appetite which they seek to
diminish, seek the first victim they can find to appease the
gastric juice, which devours them, and wish to make it serve as a
basis to the different envois they wish to send to the same
Professors of gastronomy never eat bouilli, from respect to the
principles previously announced, that bouilli is flesh without the
juices. [Footnote: This idea which began to make its impression on
bouilli has disappeared. It is replaced by a roasted filet, a
turbot, or a matelote.]
Section III. FOWLS.
I am very fond of second courses, and devoutly believe that the
whole gallinaceous family was made to enrich our larders and to
deck our tables.
From the quail to the turkey, whenever we find a fowl of this
class, we are sure to find too, light aliment, full of flavor, and
just as fit for the convalescent as for the man of the most robust
Which one of us, condemned to the fare of the fathers of the
desert, would not have smiled at the idea of a well-carved
chicken's wing, announcing his rapid rendition to civilized life?
We are not satisfied with the flavor nature has given to
gallinaceous fowls, art has taken possession of them, and under
the pretext of ameliorating, has made martyrs of them. They have
not only been deprived of the means of reproduction, but they have
been kept in solitude and darkness, and forced to eat until they
were led to an unnatural state of fatness.
It is very true that this unnatural grease is very delicious, and
that this damnable skill gives them the fineness and succulence
which are the delight of our best tables.
Thus ameliorated, the fowl is to the kitchen what the canvass is
to painters. To charlatans it is the cap of Fortunatus, and is
served up boiled, roasted, fried, hot, cold, whole or dismembered,
with or without sauce, broiled, stuffed, and always with equal
Three portions of old France disputed for the honor of furnishing
the best fowls, viz: Caux, Mans, and Bresse.
In relation to capons, and about this there is some doubt, the one
on the table always seeming the best. Bresse seems, however, to
have pre-eminence in pullets, for they are round as an apple. It
is a pity they are so rare in Paris!
Section IV. THE TURKEY.
The turkey is certainly one of the most glorious presents made by
the new world to the old.
Those persons who always wish to know more than others, say that
the turkey was known to the ancients, and was served up at the
wedding feast of Charlemagne. They say it is an error to attribute
the importation to the Jesuits. To these paradoxes but two things
can be opposed:
1st. The name of the bird proves its origin, for at one time
America was called the West Indies.
2d. The form of the bird is altogether foreign.
A well informed man cannot be mistaken about it.
Though already perfectly satisfied, I made much deep research in
the matter. I will not inflict my studies on my readers, but will
only give them the results:
1. The turkey appeared in Europe about the end of the seventeenth
2. That it was imported by the Jesuits who sent a large number
especially to a farm they had near Bouges.
3. That thence they spread gradually over France, and in many
localities a turkey to this day is called a Jesuit.
4. Only in America has the turkey been found in a wild state, (it
is unknown in Africa.)
5. That in the farms of North America, where it is very common, it
has two origins, either from eggs which have been found and
hatched or from young turkeys caught in the woods. The consequence
is they are in a state of nature and preserve almost all their
Overcome by this evidence I bestow on the good fathers a double
portion of gratitude, for they imported the Quinquina yet known as
The same researches informed us that the turkey gradually became
acclimated in France. Well informed observers have told me that
about the middle of the last century of twenty young turkeys
scarcely ten lived, while now fourteen out of every twenty mature.
The spring rains are most unfortunate to them; the large drops of
rain striking on their tender heads destroy them.
The turkey is the largest, and if not the finest, at least the
most highly flavored of the gallinaceous family.
It has also the advantage of collecting around it every class of
When the virgin dresses, and farmers of our countries wish to
regale themselves in the long winter evenings, what do they roast
before the fire of the room in which the table is spread? a
When the mechanic, when the artist, collects a few friends to
enjoy a relief which is the more grateful because it is the rarer;
what is one of the dishes always put on the table? a turkey
stuffed with Lyons sausage and with chestnuts of Lyons.
In the highest gastronomical circles, in the most select reunions,
where politics yield to dissertations on the taste, for what do
people wait? What do they wish for? a dinde truffe at the second
course. My secret memoirs tell me that its flavor has more than
once lighted up most diplomatic faces.
FINANCIAL INFLUENCE OF THE TURKEY.
The importation of turkeys became the cause of a great addition to
the public fortune, and occasioned a very considerable commerce.
By raising turkeys the farmers were able the more surely to pay
their rents. Young girls often acquired a very sufficient dowry,
and towns-folk who wished to eat them had to pay round prices for
In a purely financial point of view turkeys demand much attention.
I have reason to believe, that between the first of November and
the end of February, three hundred dindon truffees are consumed
per diem. The sum total is 30,000 turkeys.
The price of every turkey in that condition is at least twenty
francs, and the sum of the whole is not less than 720,000 francs--
a very pretty sum of money. One must add a similar sum for the
fowls, pheasants, pullets and partridges, suffered in the same
way, and which are every day exhibited in the provision shops, as
a punishment for beholders who are too poor to buy them.
EXPLOIT OF THE PROFESSOR.
While I was living at Hartford, in Connecticut, I was lucky enough
to kill a wild turkey. This exploit deserves to be transmitted to
posterity, and I tell it with especial complaisance as I am myself
An American farmer had invited me to hunt on his grounds; he lived
in the remotest part of the State, [Footnote: Brillat-Savarin uses
the French words "derrieres de l'etat" and translates them in
English, in parenthesis "Backwoods."] and promised me partridges,
grey squirrels and wild turkeys. [Footnote: He also translates in
the same manner "dindes sauvages" welp cocks.] He also permitted
me to bring a friend or two if I pleased.
One fine day in October, 1794, therefore, with a friend, I set out
with the hope of reaching the farm of Mr. Bulow, five mortal
leagues from Hartford, before night.
Though the road was hardly traced, we arrived there without
accident, and were received with that cordial hospitality
expressed by acts, for before we had been five minutes on the
farm, dogs, horses and men were all suitably taken care of.
About two hours were consumed in the examination of the farm and
its dependencies. I would describe all this if I did not prefer to
display to the reader the four buxom daughters of Mr. Bulow, to
whom our arrival was a great event.
Their ages were from sixteen to twenty-four, and there was so much
simplicity in their persons, so much activity and abandon, that
every motion seemed full of grace.
After our return from walking we sat around a well furnished
table. A superb piece of corned beef, a stewed goose, and a
magnificent leg of mutton, besides an abundance of vegetables and
two large jugs of cider, one at each end of the table, made up our
bill of fare.
When we had proven to our host, that in appetite at least, we were
true huntsmen, we began to make arrangements for our sport. He
told us where we would find game, and gave us land-marks to guide
us on our return, not forgetting farm-houses where we could obtain
During this conversation the ladies had prepared excellent tea, of
which we drank several cups, and were then shown into a room with
two beds, where exercise and fatigue procured us a sound sleep.
On the next day we set out rather late, and having come to the end
of the clearings made by Mr. Bulow, I found myself in a virgin
forest for the first time. The sound of the axe had never been
I walked about with delight, observing the blessings and ravages
of time which creates and destroys, and I amused myself by tracing
all the periods on the life of an oak since the moment when its
two leaves start from the ground, until it leaves but a long black
mark which is the dust of its heart.
My companion, Mr. King, reproached me for my moodiness, and we
began the hunt. We killed first some of those pretty grey
partridges which are so round and so tender. We then knocked down
six or seven grey squirrels, highly esteemed in America, and at
last were fortunate enough to find a flock of turkeys.
They rose one after the other, flying rapidly and crying loudly.
Mr. King fired on the first and ran after it. The others were soon
out of shot. The most sluggish, of all arose at last, not ten
paces from me. It flew through an opening, I fired and it fell
One must be a sportsman to conceive the extreme pleasure this shot
caused me. I siezed on the superb bird and turned it over and over
for a quarter of an hour, until I heard my companion's voice
calling for assistance. I hurried to him and found that he called
me to aid him in looking for a turkey he claimed to have killed,
but which had disappeared.
I put my dog on the scent but he led us into an under growth, so
thick and thorny that a snake could scarcely penetrate it; I had
then to give up the search, and my companion was in a bad humor
all day long.
The rest of the day scarcely deserves the honors of printing. On
our return we lost ourselves in boundless woods, and we were in
not a little danger of having to stay out all night, when the
silvery tones of Mr. Bulow's daughters, and the deep bass of their
father, who had come to look for us, guided us home.
The four sisters were fully armed with clean dresses, new ribbons,
pretty hats, and so carefully shod that it was evident that they
had formed a high opinion of us. I tried to make myself agreeable
to the one of the ladies who took my arm, a thing she did as
naturally as if it had belonged to her jure conjugali.
When we reached the farm supper was ready, but before we sat down
to the table we drew near to a bright and brilliant fire which had
been lighted for us, though the season did not indicate that such
a a precaution was necessary. We found it very comfortable,
fatigued as we were, and were rested as if by enchantment.
This custom doubtless comes from the Indians who always have a
fire in their huts. It may be, this is a tradition of St. Francis
de Sales, who said that fire was good eleven months of the year
We ate as if we were famished; a large bowl of punch enabled us to
finish the evening, and a conversation, which our host made
perfectly free, led us far into the night.
We spoke of the war of Independence, in which Mr. Bulow [Footnote:
The M. Bulow of whom Savarin speaks, is none other than Lieut.
Col. Bellows of the Connecticut Line, many of whose relations yet
remain in the Valley of the Connecticut.] had served as a field
officer of M. de La Fayette, who every day becomes greater in the
eyes of the Americans, who always designate him as "the Marquis"
of agriculture, which at that time enriched the United States, and
finally of my native land, which I loved the more because I was
forced to leave it.
When wearied of conversation the father would say to his eldest
daughter, "Maria, give us a song." She without any embarrassment
sung the American national airs. The complaints of Mary Stuart and
of Andre, all popular in America. Maria had taken a few lessons,
and in that remote country passed for a virtuosa; her singing
though, derived its charm from the quality of her voice, which was
at once clear, fresh and accentuated.
On the next day, in spite of Mr. Bulow's persuasions, we set out.
I had duties to discharge; and while the horses were being
prepared, Mr. Bulow took me aside and used these remarkable words.
"You see in me, sir, a happy man, if there be one under heaven;
all that you see here is derived from my own property. My
stockings were knit by my daughters, and my cloths were furnished
by my flocks. They also, with my garden, furnish me with an
abundance of healthy food. The greatest eulogium of our government
is, that in the State of Connecticut there are a thousand farmers
as well satisfied as I am, the doors of whom have no locks.
"Taxes are almost nothing, and as long as they be paid any one can
sleep calmly. Congress favors national industry as much as it can,
and merchants are always ready to take from us whatever we wish to
sell. I have ready money for a long time, for I have just sold at
twenty-four dollars a barrel, flour I usually receive eight for.
"All this is derived from the liberty we have acquired, and
established on good laws. I am master of my own house; and you
will not be astonished when you know that we never fear the sound
of the drum, and, except on the 4th of July, the glorious
anniversary of our Independence, neither soldiers, uniforms, nor
bayonets are seen."
On my way back I seemed absorbed by profound reflection. Perhaps
the reader may think I mused on my host's parting words; I had
very different thoughts, however, for I was studying how I should
cook my turkey. I was in some trouble, for I feared I would not
find all I needed at Hartford, and wished to make a trophy of my
I make a painful sacrifice in suppressing the details of the
profound science I exhibited in the preparation of an
entertainment, to which I invited several friends. Suffice it to
say that the partridge wings were served en papillote, and the
grey squirrels stewed in madeira.
The turkey, which was our only roast dish, was charming to the
sight, flattering to the sense of smell, and delicious to taste.
Therefore, until the last fragment was eaten, there were heard
around the table, "Very good;" "Exceedingly good;" "Dear sir; what
a nice piece." [Footnote: The flesh of the wild turkey is more
highly colored and more perfumed than the domestic fowl. I am glad
to learn that my amiable colleague, M. Bosc, had killed many in
Carolina, which he found excellent, and far better than those in
Europe. He therefore recommends that they be allowed the largest
liberty, that they be driven into the woods and fields, to enhance
the flavor and bring it as nearly as possible back to the original
species.--Annales d'Agriculture cah. du 28 Fevr. 1821.] By game we
mean all wild animals which are fit to eat, and live in a state of
We say fit to eat, because many animals which are in a state of
nature are not fit to eat. Such as foxes, crows, pies, wild-cats,
etc. They are called in French Betes puantes vermin.
Game is divided into three series.
The first contains all birds, from the grive to the smallest of
the feathered tribe.
The second ascends from the rail to the snipe, partridge, and
pheasant, including the rabbit and the hare; it is divided into
three categories, of the marsh, hairy, and feathered.
The third, which bears the name of venison, is composed of the
wild-boar, kid, and all other horny-footed cattle.
Game is one of the great luxuries of our tables; it is a healthy,
warm, highly-flavored and high tasted flesh, easily digested,
whenever one is hungry.
These qualities, however, are not so inherent as not to a certain
degree to depend on the skill of the cook. Put some water, salt
and beef into a pot, and you can obtain from them a very good
soup. Substitute venison for the beef, and the result will not be
fit to eat. Butcher's meat, in this respect, has the advantage.
Under the manipulation, however, of a skilful cook, game undergoes
various modifications and transformations, and furnishes the
greater portions of the dishes of the transcendental kitchen.
Game derives, also, a great portion of its value from the soil on
which it is fed. The taste of a Perigord partridge is very
different from that of one from Sologne, and the hare killed in
the vicinity of Paris is a very different dish from one shot on
the hills of Valromey or upper Dauphiny. The latter is probably
the most perfumed of all beasts.
Among small birds, beyond all doubt, the best is the "beccafico."
It becomes at least as fat as the red-throat or the ortolan, and
nature has besides given it a slight bitterness, and a peculiar
and exquisite perfume, which enables it to fill and delight all
the gustatory organs. Were the beccafico as large as a pheasant,
an acre of land would be paid for it.
It is a pity this bird is so rare, that few others than those who
live in the southern departments of France, know what it is.
[Footnote: I am inclined to think the bird is utterly unknown in
America.--TRANSLATOR.] Few people know how to eat small birds. The
following method was imparted confidentially to me by the Canon
Charcot, a gourmand by profession, and a perfect gastronome,
thirty years before the word gastronomy was invented:
Take a very fat bird by the bill and sprinkle it with salt, take
out the entrailles, I mean gizzard, liver, etc., and put it whole
in your mouth. Chew it quickly, and the result will be a juice
abundant enough to permeate the whole organ. You will then enjoy a
pleasure unknown to the vulgar.
"Odi profanum vulgus et arceo." HORACE.
The quail, of all game properly so-called, is the nicest and the
most pleasant. A very fat quail is pleasant both to eat, see, and
smell. Whenever it is either roasted, or served en papillote, a
great folly is committed, because its perfume is very volatile,
and when ever in contact with a liquid, its flavor is dissolved
The snipe is a charming bird, but few people know all its charms.
It is in its glory only when it has been cooked under the
huntsman's eyes; and the huntsman must have killed it. Then the
roast is perfected according to rule, and the mouth is inundated
Above the preceding, and above all others, the pheasant should be
placed. Few mortals, however, know exactly how to cook it.
A pheasant eaten only a week after its death is not good as a
partridge or a pullet, for its merit consists in its aroma.
Science has considered the expansion of this aroma, experience has
utilised science, so that a pheasant ready for the spit is a dish
fit for the most exalted gourmands.
In the varieties will be found a recipe for roasting a pheasant, a
la Sainte Alliance. The time has come when this method, hitherto
concentrated in a small circle of friends, should be made known
for the benefit of humanity. A pheasant with truffles is not good
as one would be apt to think it. The bird is too dry to actuate
the tubercle, and the scent of the one and the perfume of the
other when united neutralize each other--or rather do not suit.
Section VI. FISH.
Savants, in other respects orthodox, have maintained that ocean
was the common cradle of all that exists, and that man himself
sprang from the sea and owes his actual habits to the influence of
the air, and the mode of life he has been obliged to adopt.
Be this as it may, it is at least certain, that the waters contain
an immense quantity of beings of all forms and sizes, which
possess vitality in very different proportions, and according to
mode very different from that of warm blooded animals.
It is not less true that water has ever presented an immense
variety of aliments, and that in the present state of science it
introduces to our table the most agreeable variety.
Fish, less nutritious than flesh and more succulent than
vegetables, is a mezzo termine, which suits all temperments and
which persons recovering from illness may safely eat.
The Greeks and Romans, though they had not made as much progress
as we have in the art of seasoning fish, esteemed it very highly,
and were so delicate that they could even tell where it had been
Large fish ponds were maintained, and the cruelty of Vellius
Pollis who fed his lampreys on the bodies of slaves he caused to
be slain is well known. This cruelty Domitian disapproved of but
should have punished.
There has been much discussion as to which is the best fish.
The question will never be decided, for as the Spanish proverb
says, sobre los gustos no hai disputa. Every one is effected in
his own way. These fugitive sensations can be expressed by no
known character, and there is no scale to measure if a CAT-FISH
(!), a sole, or a turbot are better than a salmon, trout, pike, or
even tench of six or seven pounds.
It is well understood that fish is less nourishing than meat,
because it contains no osmazome, because it is lighter in weight,
and contains less weight in the same volume. Shell-fish, and
especially oysters, furnish little nutrition, so that one can eat
a great many without injury.
It will be remembered that not long ago any well arranged
entertainment began with oysters, and that many guests never
paused without swallowing a gross (144). I was anxious to know the
weight of this advance guard, and I ascertained that a dozen
oysters, fluid included, weighed four ounces averdupois. Now look
on it as certain that the same persons who did not make a whit the
worse dinner, on account of the oysters would have been completely
satisfied if they had eaten the same weight of flesh or of
In 1798 I was at Versailles as a commissary of the Directory, and
frequently met M. Laperte, greffier of the count of the
department. He was very fond of oysters, and used to complain that
he had never had enough.
I resolved to procure him this satisfaction, and invited him to
dine with me on the next day.
He came. I kept company with him to the tenth dozen, after which I
let him go on alone. He managed to eat thirty-two dozen within an
hour for the person who opened them was not very skilful.
In the interim, I was idle, and as that is always a painful state
at the table, I stopped him at the moment when he was in full
swing. "Mon cher," said I, "you will not to-day eat as many
oysters as you meant--let us dine." We did so, and he acted as if
he had fasted for a week.
The ancients extracted from fish two highly flavored seasonings,
muria and garum.
The first was the juice of the thuny, or to speak more precisely,
the liquid substance which salt causes to flow from the fish.
Garum was dearer, and we know much less of it. It is thought that
it was extracted by pressure from the entrailles of the scombra or
mackerel; but this supposition does not account for its high
price. There is reason to believe it was a foreign sauce, and was
nothing else but the Indian soy, which we know to be only fish
fermented with mushrooms.
Certainly, people from their locality are forced to live almost
entirely upon fish. They also feed their working animals with it,
and the latter from custom gradually grow to like this strange
food. They also manure the soil with it, yet always receive the
same quantity from the sea which surrounds them.
It has been observed that such nations are not so courageous as
those that eat flesh. They are pale, a thing not surprising, for
the elements of fish must rather repair the lymph than the blood.
Among ichthyophages, remarkable instances of longevity are
observed, either because light food preserves them from plethora,
or that the juices it contains being formed by nature only to
constitute cartilages which never bears long duration, their use
retards the solidification of the parts of the body which, after
all, is the cause of death.
Be this as it may, fish in the hands of a skilful cook is an
inexhaustible source of enjoyment. It is served up whole, in
pieces, truncated with water, oil, vinegar, warm, cold; and is
always well received. It is, however never better than when
dressed en matilotte.
This ragout, though made a necessary dish to the boatmen on our
rivers, and made in perfection only by the keepers of cobarets on
their banks, is incomparably good. Lovers of fish never see it
without expressing their gratification, either on account of its
freshness of taste, or because they can without difficulty eat an
indefinite quantity, without any fear of satiety or indigestion.
Analytical gastronomy has sought to ascertain what are the effects
of a fish diet on the animal system. Unanimous observation leads
us to think that it has great influence on the genesiac sense, and
awakens the instinct of reproduction in the two sexes. This effect
being once known, two causes were at once assigned for it:
1st. The different manner of preparing fish, all the seasoning for
it being irritating, such as carar, hering, thon marine, etc.
2d. The various juices the fish imbibes, which are highly
inflammable and oxigenise in digestion.
Profound analysis has discovered a yet more powerful cause: the
presence of phosphorous in all the portions, and which
decomposition soon developes.
These physical truths were doubtless unknown to the ecclesiastical
legislators, who imposed the lenten diet on different communities
of monks, such as Chartreux, Recollets, Trappists, and the
Carmelites reformed by Saint Theresa; no one thinks that they
wished to throw a new difficulty into the way of the observance of
the already most anti-social vow of chastity.
In this state of affairs, beyond doubt, glorious victories were
won, and rebellious senses were subjected; there were, however,
many lapses and defeats. They must have been well averred, for the
result was the religious orders had ultimately a reputation like
that of Hercules and the daughters of Danaus, or Marshal Saxe with
They might also have been delighted by an anecdote, so old as to
date from the crusades.
Sultan Saladin being anxious to measure the continence of devises,
took two into his palace, and for a long time fed them on the most
Soon all traces of fasting began to disappear, and they reached a
very comfortable embonpoint. At that time they were given as
companions two odalisques of great beauty, all of whose well-
directed attacks failed, and they came from the ordeal pure as the
diamond of Visapor.
The Sultan kept them in his palace, and to celebrate their triumph
fed them for several weeks on fish alone.
After a few days they were again submitted to the ordeal of the
In the present state of our knowledge, it is probable that if the
course of events were to establish any monastic order, the
superiors would adopt some regimen better calculated to maintain
Fish, considered in general, is an inexhaustible source of
reflection to the philosopher.
The varied forms of these strange animals, the senses they are
deprived of, and the limited nature of those they have, their
various modes of existence, the influence exerted over them by the
medium in which they live, move, and breathe, extend the range of
our ideas and the indefinite modifications which result from their
nature, motions and lives.
For my part, I entertain to them a sentiment very like respect,
resulting from my belief that they belong to antediluvian races.
The great convulsion which doomed our ancestors, in the eighteenth
century of the world, to fish was a season of joy, triumph and
Section VII. TRUFFLES.
Who ever says truffle, pronounces a great word, which awakens
eratic and gourmand ideas both in the sex dressed in petticoats
and in the bearded portion of humanity.
This honorable duplication results from the fact that the tubercle
is not only delicious to the taste, but that it excites a power
the exercise of which is accompanied by the most delicious
The origin of the truffle is unknown; they are found, but none
know how they vegetate. The most learned men have sought to
ascertain the secret, and fancied they discovered the seed. Their
promises, however, were vain, and no planting was ever followed by
a harvest. This perhaps is all right, for as one of the great
values of truffles is their dearness, perhaps they would be less
highly esteemed if they were cheaper.
"Rejoice, my friend," said I, "a superb lace is about to be
manufactured at a very low price."
"Ah!" replied she, "think you, if it be cheap, that any one would
ERATIC VIRTUE OF TRUFFLES.
The Romans were well acquainted with the truffle, but I do not
think they were acquainted with the French variety. Those which
were their delight were obtained from Greece and Africa, and
especially from Libia. The substance was pale, tinged with rose,
and the Libian truffles were sought for as being far the most
delicate and highly perfumed.
...... "Gustus elementa per omnia quaerunt." JUVENAL.
From the Romans to our own time, there was a long interregnum, and
the resurrection of truffles is an event of recent occurrence. I
have read many old books, in which there is no allusion to them.
The generation for which I write may almost be said to witness its
About 1780 truffles were very rare in Paris, and they were to be
had only in small quantities at the Hotel des Americans, and at
the Hotel de Province. A dindon truffee was a luxury only seen at
the tables of great nobles and of kept women.
We owe their abundance to dealers in comestibles, the number of
whom has greatly increased, and who, seeing that their merchandise
was popular, had it sought for throughout the kingdom. Sending for
it by either the mail or by couriers, they made its search
general. As truffles cannot be planted, careful search alone can
At the time I write (1825) the glory of the truffle is at its
apogee. Let no one ever confess that he dined where truffles were
not. However good any entree may be, it seems bad unless enriched
by truffles. Who has not felt his mouth water when any allusion
was made to truffles a la provincale.
A saute of truffles is a dish the honors of which the mistress of
the house reserves to herself; in fine, the truffle is the diamond
of the kitchen.
I sought the reason of this preference; it seemed to me that many
other substances had an equal right to the honor, and I became
satisfied that the cause was that the truffle was supposed to
excite the genesiac sense. This I am sure is the chief quality of
its perfection, and the predilection and preference evinced for
it, so powerful is our servitude to this tyrannical and capricious
This discovery led me to seek to ascertain if the effect were real
[The Translator here has thought it best to omit a very BROAD
dialogue, which Brillat-Savarin introduced into his book.]
.......... I made ulterior researches, collected my ideas, and
consulted the men who were most likely to know, with all of whom I
was intimate. I united them into a tribunal, a senate, a
sanhedrim, an areopagus, and we gave the following decision to be
commented upon by the litterateures of the twenty-eighth century.
"The truffle is a positive aphrodisiac, and under certain
circumstances makes women kinder, and men more amiable."
In Piedmont white truffles are met with, which are very highly
esteemed. They have a slight flavor, not injurious to their
perfection, because it gives no disagreable return.
The best truffles of France come from Perigord, and upper
Provence. About the month of January they have their highest
Those from Bugey also have a high flavor, but can not be
Those of Burgundy and Dauphiny are of inferior quality. They are
hard, and are deficient in farinacious matter. Thus, there are
many kinds of truffles.
To find truffles, dogs and hogs are used, that have been trained
to the purpose. There are men, however, with such practised eyes
that by the inspection of the soil they can say whether it
contains truffles or not, and what is their quality.
ARE TRUFFLES INDIGESTIBLES?
We have only to ascertain if the truffle be indigestible or not.
We say no.
This decision is ex cathedra, and well sustained.
1. By the nature of the substance. The truffle is easily
masticated, is light, and has nothing hard nor cartilaginous in
2. During our observations for fifty years, we have never known
any indigestion to result from truffles. [Footnote: The translator
has known several such indigestions. He once nearly became a
martyr to a galatine de Perdrix truffee, at the restaurant of the
late M. Dandurand.]
3. The attestation of the most eminent of the faculty of Paris, a
city eminently gourmande and trufflivorous, sustains this idea.
4. From the daily conduct of the doctors of the law, who, caeteris
paribus, consume more truffles than any other class of citizens.
Doctor Malonet used to eat enough to give an elephant the
indigestion. He however lived to be eighty-six.
We may therefore look on it as certain, that the truffle is a food
healthy as it is agreeable, and that when taken in moderation it
passes through the system as a letter does through the post
One may easily be indisposed after a great dinner, where other
things than truffles have been eaten; such accidents, however,
only happen to those who, after the first service, were already
stuffed like canons, and who failed in the second, leaving the
luxuries offered them untouched.
This is not then the fault of truffles, and we may be sure they
had swallowed so many glasses of pure water or eaten the same
number of potatoes.
Let us conclude by a circumstance which shows how easily we may be
mistaken without careful observation.
One day I invited Mr. S--, a very pleasant old man, to dine with
me. He was also a gourmand of the highest grade. Either because I
knew his tastes, or to satisfy all my guests that I wished to make
them happy, I was not sparing in truffles, and they appeared under
the egis of young turkeys most carefully stuffed.
Mr. S--ate with energy, and as I knew he could not injure himself
I left him alone, persuading him not to hurry himself because no
one would attack the property he had acquired.
All passed off very well, and we separated at a very late hour.
When we reached home, however, Mr. S-- was attacked by a violent
cholic, a disposition to vomit, convulsive cramp, and general
This state of things lasted some time, and all said he suffered
from the indigestion caused by truffles; at last nature came to
the patient's aid, and Mr. S-- opened his mouth and threw up a
single truffle, which struck the wall and rebounded, luckily
without injury to the by-standers.
All unpleasant symptoms at once disappeared, tranquility was
restored, digestion recommenced its course, the patient went to
sleep and awoke in the morning perfectly well.
The cause was easily understood, Mr. S--had been eating a long
time, and his teeth were unable to sustain the labor imposed on
them. He had lost many of those precious members, and those he had
left did not always meet together.
A truffle had thus escaped mastication, and almost whole had been
swallowed. Digestion had carried it to the pylorus where it was
momentarily detained, and this mechanical detention had caused all
his trouble, as expulsion had cured it.
Thus there was no indigestion, but merely the interposition of a
This was decided on by the consulting body, which saw the corpus
delicti, and which selected me as its reporter.
Mr. S-- did not on this account remain a whit less fond of
truffles. He always attacked them with the same audacity, but was
very careful to swallow them with more prudence. He used to thank
God that this sanitary precaution had prolonged his life and his
Section VIII. SUGAR.
In the present state of science we understand by sugar a substance
mild to the taste, crystalizable, and which by fermentation
resolves itself into carbonic acid and alcohol.
By sugar once was understood only the crystalized juice of the
cane, (arundo saccharifera.)
A few pages of old authors would induce us to think the ancients
had observed in certain arundines a sweet and extractible portion.
"Qui bibunt tenera dulces ab arundine succos."
Between water sweetened by the juice of the cane, and the sugar we
have, there is a great difference. Art in Rome was not far enough
advanced to accomplish it.
Sugar really originated in the colonies of the New World. The cane
was imported thither two centuries ago and prospered, and effort
was made to utilize the juice which flowed from it, and by gradual
experiments they accomplished the manufacture of all the variety
of its productions we know of.
The culture of the sugar cane has become an object of the greatest
importance; it is a great source of wealth both to the cultivators
and the vendors, and also to the taxes of governments who levy an
import on it.
It has long been thought that tropical heat was not needed to form
sugar. About 1740 Morgroff discovered that many plants of the
temperate zones, and among others the beet contained it.
Towards the beginning of the nineteenth century, circumstances
having made sugar scarce, and consequently dear, the government
made it an object for savants to look for it.
The idea was successful, and it was ascertained that sugar was
found in the whole vegetable kingdom; that it existed in the
grape, chestnut, potato, and in the beet especially.
This last plant became an object of the greatest culture, and many
experiments proved that in this respect, the old world could do
without the new. France was covered with manufactories, which
worked with different success, and the manufacture of sugar became
naturalized; the art was a new one which may any day be recalled.
Among the various manufactories, the most prominent was that
established at Passy, near Paris, by Mr. Benjamin Delassert, a
citizen, the name of whom is always connected with the good and
By means of a series of extensive operations, he got rid of all
that was doubtful in the practice, and made no mystery of his plan
of procedure, even to those who were his rivals. He was visited by
the head of the government, and was ordered to furnish all that
was needed at the Tuilleries.
New circumstances, the restoration of peace, having again reduced
colonial sugar to a lower price, the French manufacturers lost the
advantages they had gained. Many, however, yet prosper, and
Delassert makes some thousands every year. This also enables him
to preserve his processes until the time comes when they may again
he useful. [Footnote: We may add, that at the session for the
general encouragement of national industry, a medal was ordered to
be presented to M. Crespel, a manufacturer of arrus, who
manufactures every year one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of
beet sugar, which he sells at a profit, even--when Colonial sugar
is 2 francs 50 centimes the kilogramme. The reason is, that the
refuse is used for distillation, and subsequently fed out to
When beet sugar was in the market, party men, up-starts and fools,
took it into their heads that its flavor was unpleasant, and some
even said it was unhealthy.
Many experiments have proved the contrary, and the Count de
Chaptal, in his excellent book, Chemistry Applied to Agriculture,"
(vol. ii. page 13,) says:
"Sugars obtained from various plants, says a celebrated chemist,
are in fact of the same nature, and have no intrinsic difference
when they are equally pure. Taste, crystalization, color, weight,
are absolutely identical, and the most acute observer cannot
distinguish the one from the other."
An idea of the force of prejudice is afforded by the fact, that
out of one hundred British subjects, taken at random, not ten
believe in the possibility of obtaining sugar from the beet.
USES OF SUGAR.
Sugar was introduced by the apothecaries. With them it was a most
important article, for when a person was greatly in want of any
article, there was a proverb, "Like an apothecary without sugar."
To say that it came thence, is to say that it was received with
disfavor; some said that it was heating, others that it injured
the chest; some that it disposed persons to apoplexy. Calumny,
however, had to give way to truth, and for eighty years this
apothegm has been current, "Sugar hurts nothing but the purse."
Under this impenetrable aegis the use of sugar has increased every
day, and no alimentary substance has undergone so many
transformations. Many persons like sugar in a pure state, and in
hopeless cases the faculty recommend it as a substance which can
do no possible harm, and which is not unpleasant.
Mixed with water, it gives us eau sucree, a refreshing drink,
which is healthful, agreeable, and sometimes salutary.
Mingled in large quantities with water it constitutes sirops,
which are perfumed, and from their variety are most refreshing.
Mingled with water, the caloric of which is artificially
extracted, it furnishes two kinds, which are of Italian origin,
and were introduced into France by Catharine de Medici.
With wine it furnishes such a restorative power that in some
countries roasted meats taken to the bride and groom are covered
with it, just as in Persia soused sheeps' feet are given them.
Mingled with flour and eggs, it furnishes biscuits, maccaronies,
etc., etc., ad infinitum.
With milk it unites in the composition of creams, blanc-mangers
and other dishes of the second course, substituting for the
substantial taste of meat, ethereal perfumes.
It causes the aroma of coffee to be exhaled.
Mingled with cafe au lait, a light, pleasant aliment is produced,
precisely suited to those who have to go to their offices
immediately after breakfast.
With fruits and flowers it contributes to furnish confitures,
marmalades, preserves, pates and candies, and enables us to enjoy
the perfume of those flowers long after they have withered.
It may be that sugar might be advantageously employed in
embalming, an art of which we know little.
Sugar mingled with alcohol furnishes spirituous liquors, such as
were used, it is said, to warm the old blood of Louis XIV., which,
by their energy, seized the palate and the taste by the perfumed
gas united to them, the two qualities forming the ne plus ultra of
the pleasures of the taste.
Such is the substance which the French of the time of Louis XIII.
scarcely knew the name of, and which to the people of the
nineteenth century is become so important; no woman, in easy
circumstances, spends as much money for bread as she does for
M. Delacroix, a man of letters, who is as industrious as he is
profound, was one day complaining of the price of sugar, which
then cost five francs a pound, "Ah!" said he, "if sugar should
ever again be thirty sous a pound, I will drink nothing but eau
sucree." His wishes were granted; he yet lives, and I trust he
keeps his word.
Section IX. ORIGIN OF COFFEE.
The first coffee tree was found in Arabia, and in spite of the
various transplantations it has undergone, the best coffee is yet
obtained there. An old tradition states that coffee was discovered
by a shepherd of old, who saw that his flock was always in the
greatest state of excitement and hilarity when they browsed on the
leaves of the coffee tree.
Though this may be but an old story, the honor of the discovery
belongs only in part to the goat-herd. The rest belongs to him who
first made use of the bean, and boiled it.
A mere decoction of green coffee is a most insipid drink, but
carbonization develops the aroma and forms an oil which is the
peculiarity of the coffee we drink, and which would have been
eternally unknown but for the intervention of heat.
The Turks excel us in this. They employ no mill to torturate the
coffee, but beat it with wooden pestles in mortars. When the
pestles have been long used, they become precious and are sold at
I had to examine and determine whether in the result one or the
other of the two methods be preferable.
Consequently, I burned carefully a pound of good mocha, and
separated it into two equal portions, the one of which was passed
through the mill, and the other beaten Turkish fashion in a
I made coffee of each, taking equal weights of each, poured on an
equal weight of boiling water and treated them both precisely
I tasted this coffee myself, and caused others who were competent
judges to do so. The unanimous opinion was that coffee which had
been beaten in a mortar was far better than that which had been
Any one may repeat the experiment. In the interim I will tell you
a strange anecdote of the influence of one or the other kind of
"Monsieur," said Napoleon, one day to Laplace, "how comes it that
a glass of water into which I put a lump of loaf sugar tastes more
pleasantly than if I had put in the same quantity of crushed
sugar." "Sire," said the philosophic Senator, "there are three
substances the constituents of which are identical--Sugar, gum
and amidon; they differ only in certain conditions, the secret of
which nature has preserved. I think it possible that in the effect
produced by the pestle some saccharine particles become either gum
or amidon, and cause the difference."
This remark became public, and ulterior observations has confirmed
DIFFERENT MODES OF PREPARING COFFEE.
Some years ago all directed their attention to the mode of
preparing coffee; the reason doubtless was that the head of the
government was fond of it.
Some proposed not to burn nor to powder it, to boil it three
quarters of an hour, to strain it, &c.
I have tried this and all the methods which have been suggested
from day to day, and prefer that known as a la Dubelloy, which
consists in pouring boiling water on coffee placed in a porcelain
or silver vessel pierced with a number of very minute holes. This
first decoction should be taken and brought to the boiling point,
then passed through the strainer again, and a coffee will be
obtained clear and strong as possible.
I have also tried to make coffee in a high pressure boiling
apparatus; all I obtained however was a fluid intensely bitter,
and strong enough to take the skin from the throat of a Cossack.
EFFECTS OF COFFEE.
Doctors have differed in relation to the sanitary properties of
coffee. We will omit all this, and devote ourselves to the more
important point, its influence on the organs of thought.
There is no doubt but that coffee greatly excites the cerebral
faculties. Any man who drinks it for the first time is almost sure
to pass a sleepless night.
Sometimes the effect is softened or modified by custom, but there
are many persons on whom it always produces this effect, and who
consequently cannot use coffee.
I have said that the effect was modified by use, a circumstance
which does not prevent its having effect in another manner. I have
observed persons whom coffee did not prevent from sleeping at
night, need it to keep them awake during the day, and never failed
to slumber when they had taken it for dinner. There are others who
are torpid all day when they have not taken their cup in the
Voltaire and Buffon used a great deal of coffee. Perchance the
latter was indebted to it for the admirable clearness we observe
in his works, and the second for the harmonious enthusiasm of his
style. It is evident that many pages of the treatise on man, the
dog, the tiger, lion and horse, were written under a strange
The loss of sleep caused by coffee is not painful, for the
perceptions are very clear, and one has no disposition to sleep.
One is always excited and unhappy when wakefulness comes from any
other cause. This, however, does prevent such an excitement, when
carried too far, from being very injurious.
Formerly only persons of mature age took coffee. Now every one
takes it, and perhaps it is the taste which forces onward the
immense crowd that besiege all the avenues of the Olympus, and of
the temple of memory.
The Cordwainer, author of the tragedy of Zenobia, which all Paris
heard read a few years ago, drank much coffee; for that reason he
excelled the cabinetmaker of Nevers, who was but a drunkard.
Coffee is a more powerful fluid than people generally think. A man
in good health may drink two bottles of wine a day for a long
time, and sustain his strength. If he drank that quantity of
coffee he would become imbecile and die of consumption. I saw at
Leicester square, in London, a man whom coffee had made a cripple.
He had ceased to suffer, and then drank but six cups a day.
All fathers and mothers should make their children abstain from
coffee, if they do not wish them at twenty to be puny dried up
machines. People in large cities should pay especial attention to
this, as their children have no exaggeration of strength and
health, and are not so hearty as those born in the country.
I am one of those who have been obliged to give up coffee, and I
will conclude this article by telling how rigorously I was
subjected to its power.
The Duke of Mossa, then minister of justice, called on me for an
opinion about which I wished to be careful, and for which he had
allowed me but a very short time.
I determined then to sit up all night, and to enable me to do so
took two large cups of strong and highly flavored coffee.
I went home at seven o'clock to get the papers which had been
promised me, but found a note telling me I would not get them
until the next day.
Thus in every respect disappointed, I returned to the house where
I had dined, and played a game of piquet, without any of the moody
fits to which I was ordinarily subject.
I did justice to the coffee, but I was not at ease as to how I
would pass the night.
I went to bed at my usual hour, thinking that if I did not get my
usual allowance, I would at least get four or five hours,
sufficient to carry me through the day.
I was mistaken. I had been two hours in bed and was wider awake
than ever; I was in intense mental agitation, and fancied my brain
a mill, the wheels of which revolved, grinding nothing.
The idea came to me to turn this fancy to account, and I did so,
amusing myself by putting into verse a story I had previously read
in an English paper.
I did so without difficulty, and as I did not sleep I undertook
another, but in vain. A dozen verses had exhausted my poetic
faculty, and I gave it up.
I passed the night without sleep, and without even being stupified
for a moment, I arose and passed the day in the same manner. When
on the next night I went to bed at my usual hour I made a
calculation, and found out that I had not slept for forty hours.
Section X. CHOCOLATE--ITS ORIGIN.
The first visiters of America were impelled by a thirst of gold.
At that time nothing was appreciated but the products of the
mines. Agriculture and commerce were in their infancy, and
political economy was as yet unborn. The Spaniards found then the
precious metals, an almost sterile discovery, for they decreased
in value as they became more abundant. We have other and better
ways to increase wealth.
In those regions, however, where a genial sun confers immense
fruitfulness on the soil, the cultivation of sugar and coffee was
found advantageous. The potato, indigo, vanilla, guano, cocoa,
were also discovered; these are its real treasures.
If these discoveries took place in spite of the barriers opposed
to curiosity by a jealous nation, we may reasonably hope that they
will be multiplied ten-fold in the course of the years to come;
and that the explorations of the savants of old Europe will enrich
the three kingdoms with a multitude of substances which will give
us new sensations, as vanilla has, or augment our alimentary
resources, as cocoa.
It has been determined to call chocolate the result of the paste
of cocoa burnt with sugar and the bark of the cinnamon. This is
the technical definition of chocolate. Sugar is the integral part,
for without sugar the compound is cocoa and, chocolate. To sugar,
cinnamon and cocoa is joined the delicious aroma of vanilla, and
thus is obtained the ne plus ultra to which this preparation can
To this small number of ingredients has been reduced the number of
things sought to mingle with cocoa in the manufacture of
chocolate. Pepper, pimento, anise seed, ginger and others, have
necessarily been tried.
The cocoa tree is a native of South America, and is found both in
the islands and on the continent. It has been confessed, however,
that the best fruit is produced by the trees which grow on the
banks of Moracaibo, in the valleys of Caracas, and in the province
of Sokomusko. The fruit is larger, the sugar less bitter, and the
taste higher. Since these regions have become accessible, a
comparison may be made every day and the palate will never be
The Spanish women of the new world are passionately fond of
chocolate; and not satisfied with taking it two or three times a
day, have it even sent after them to church. This sensuality has
often drawn down the censure of their bishops, who, however,
gradually closed their eyes to it. The reverend father Escobar,
the metaphysics of whom was subtle as his morals were
accommodating, used to declare that chocolate made with water did
not break a fast; thus for the use of his penitents reproducing
the old adage, "Liquidum non frangit jejunium."
Chocolate was brought to Spain about the end of the seventeenth
century, and the use became at once common. Women especially
showed great fondness for it. Manners have not changed in this
particular as yet, and now throughout all the peninsula chocolate
is presented on all occasions when it is usual to offer any
Chocolate crossed the mountains with Anne of Austria, the daughter
of Philip II., and wife of Louis XIII. The Spanish monks also made
it known, by presents to their brethren in France. The Spanish
ambassadors also made it popular, and during the regency it was
more universally used than coffee, because it was taken as an
agreeable food, while coffee was esteemed a luxury.
Linnaeus calls the cocoa cacao theobroma, (cocoa, the drink of the
gods). A cause for this name has been sought. Some assign his
passionate fondness for it, and the other his desire to please his
confessor; there are those who attribute it to gallantry, a Queen
having first introduced it. (Incertum.)
PROPERTIES OF CHOCOLATE.
Chocolate has given occasion to profound dissertations, with the
object of determining its nature and properties, and to place it
in the category of warm, cold, or temperate drinks. We must own
all their lucubrations have contributed but slightly to the
elucidation of truth.
It was left for time and experience, those two great masters, to
show that chocolate prepared with care is as healthful as it is
agreeable. That it is nourishing, easily digested, and is not so
injurious to beauty as coffee said to be. It is very suitable to
persons who have much mental toil, to professors and lawyers,
especially to lawyers. It also suits certain feeble stomachs, and
has been thought most advantageous in chronic diseases. It is the
last resource in affections of the pylorus.
These various properties chocolate owes to nothing but an
eloesaccharum. Few substances contain in the same volume more
nutrition. It becomes almost entirely animalised.
During the war, cocoa was rare and very dear. Substitutes were
sought for, but all efforts were vain. One of the blessings of
peace was that it rid us of all those humbugs one was forced to
taste, but which were no more chocolate than chicory is mocha.
Some persons complain that they cannot digest chocolate. Others
say that it does not nourish them, and that it passes away too
The probability is that the first have only to blame themselves,
and that the chocolate they use is of bad quality. Good and well
made chocolate can be digested even by the weakest stomach.
The others have an easy remedy, and they need only strengthen
their stomachs by a pate, a cotelette, or a jerked kidney. Then
let them take a bowl of sokomusko, and thank God for such a
Here I have an opportunity to give two examples, the correctness
of which may be relied on.
After a good breakfast one may drink a full bowl of chocolate, and
digestion in three hours will be perfect, so that one may dine at
any hour that is pleasant. ... In zeal for the advancement of the
science, I tried this experiment on many ladies who assured me
they would die. They did not, though, and lived to glorify the
Those who use chocolate, ordinarily enjoy the most perfect health,
and are the least subject to the multitude of ailments which
destroy life; their embonpoint is stationary. These two examples
any one can verify in society by a scrutiny of those the regimen
of whom is known.
This is the true place to speak of the properties of chocolate,
which I have verified by many examples and experiments, which I am
delighted to exhibit to my readers. (See varieties at the end of
Now, then, let any man who has indulged too much in the cup of
volupte; let every man who has passed in toil too much of the time
when he should have slept; let every man of mind, who finds his
faculties temporarily decay; every man who finds the air humid and
the atmosphere painful to breathe; let every man who has a fixed
idea which would deprive him of the liberty of thought; let them
each take a demi litre of chocolate ambre, (sixty grains of amber
to the kilogramme), and they will see wonders.
In my way of distinguishing things, I have called this chocolate
des affliges; because in all the conditions I have referred to,
there is something very like affliction.
Very good chocolate is made in Spain; one is indisposed to send
thither for it, for all manufacturers are not equally skillful,
and when it comes it has to be used as it is.
Italian chocolates do not suit the French, for the cocoa is burned
too much. This makes the chocolate bitter, and deprives it of its
nourishment. A portion of the bean has been reduced to carbon.
Chocolate having become common in France, all sought to learn how
to make it. Few, however, approximated to perfection for the art
is not easy.
In the first place it was necessary to know good cocoa and to use
it in all its purity. There is no first quality case that has not
its inferiorities, and a mistaken interest often causes damaged
beans to be put in, which should have been rejected. The roasting
of the cocoa is also a delicate operation, and requires a tact
very like inspiration. Some have the faculty naturally, and are
A peculiar talent is necessary to regulate the quantity of sugar
which enters into the composition. It is not invariable and a
matter of course, but varies in proportion to the aroma of the
bean and the degree of torrefaction.
The trituration and mixture do not demand less care, and on them
depends the greater or less digestibility of chocolate.
Other considerations should also preside over the choice and
quantity of aromas, which should not be the same with chocolate
made for food and those taken as luxuries. It should also be
varied according if the mass is intended to receive vanilla or
not. In fine, to make good chocolate a number of very subtle
equations must be resolved, and which we take advantage of without
suspecting that they ever took place.
For a long time machines have been employed for the manufacture of
chocolate. We think this does not add at all to its perfection,
but it diminishes manipulation very materially, so that those who
have adopted it should be able to sell chocolate at a very low
rate. [Footnote: One of those machines is now in operation in a
window in Broadway, New York. It is a model of mechanical
appropriateness.] They, however, usually sell it more dearly, and
this fact demonstrates that the true spirit of commerce has not
yet entered France; the use of machines should be as advantageous
to the consumer as to the producer.
TRUE METHOD OF PREPARING CHOCOLATE.
The Americans [Footnote: South Americans.--TRANSLATOR.] make their
chocolate without sugar. When they wish to take chocolate, they
send for chocolate. Every one throws into his cup as much cocoa as
it needs, pours warm water in, and adds the sugar and perfumes he
This method neither suits our habits nor our tastes, for we wish
chocolate to come to us ready prepared.
In this state, transcendental chemistry has taught us that it
should neither be rasped with the knife nor bruised with a pestle,
because thus a portion of the sugar is converted into starch, and
the drink made less attractive.
Thus to make chocolate, that is to say, to make it fit for
immediate use, about an ounce and a half should be taken for each
cup, which should be slowly dissolved in water while it is heated,
and stirred from time to time with a spatula of wood. It should be
boiled a quarter of an hour, in order to give it consistency, and
served up hot.
"Monsieur," said madame d'Arestrel, fifty years ago, to me at
Belley, "when you wish good chocolate make it the evening before
in a tin pot. The rest of the night gives it a velvet-like flavor
that makes it far better. God will not be offended at this little
refinement, for in himself is all excellence."
THEORY OF FRYING.
It was a fine morning in May; the sun shed his brightest rays on
the smoky roofs of the city of enjoyments, and the streets
(strangely enough) were filled neither with mud nor dust.
The heavy diligences had long ceased to shake the streets; the
heavy wagons had ceased to pass, and only open carriages were
seen, in which indigenous and exotic beauties under beautiful
hats, cast disdainful looks on ugly, and smiling ones on good-
It was three o'clock when the professor sought his arm chair to
His right leg rested vertically on the floor, his left formed a
diagonal angle with, and rested on it. His back was comfortably
supported, and his hands rested on the lions' heads which
terminated the arms of the venerable piece of furniture in which
His lofty brow indicated intense study, and his mouth a taste for
pleasant amusement. His air was collected, and any one to have
seen him would have said, "that is a sage of ancient days." The
professor sent for his preparateur en chef, (chief COOK) and that
officer arrived, ready to receive orders, advice or lessons.
"Master la Planche," said the professor with that deep grave
accent which penetrates the very depth of our hearts, "all who sit
at my table pronounce your potages of the first class, a very
excellent thing, for potage is the first consolation of an empty
stomach. I am sorry to say though that you are uncertain as a
friturier. [Footnote: Anglice. Fryer.]
"I heard you sigh yesterday over that magnificent sole you served
to us, pale, watery and colorless. My friend R. [Footnote: Mr. R--
-, born at Seyssel, in the district of Belley, in 1757, an elector
of the grand college. He may be considered an example of the good
effects of prudence and probity.] looked disapprovingly of it,
M.H.R. turned his gastronomical nose to the left, and the
President S. declared such a misfortune equal to a public
"This happened because you neglected the theory, the importance of
which you are aware of. You are rather obstinate, though I have,
taken the trouble to impress on you the facts, that the operations
of your laboratory are only the execution of the eternal laws of
nature, and that certain things which you do carelessly, because
you have seen others do so; yet these are the results of the
highest science. Listen to me, therefore, with attention, that you
may never again blush at your works."
Section 1. CHEMISTRY.
"Liquids which you subject to the action of fire cannot all
receive the same quantity of heat. Nature has formed them
differently, and this secret, which we will call CAPACITY FOR
CALORIC, she has kept to herself.
"You may, therefore, with impunity dip your finger in boiling
spirits of wine; you would take it very quickly from boiling
brandy; more rapidly yet from water; while the most rapid
immersion in boiling oil would heat you easily.
"Consequently warm fluids act differently on the sapid bodies
presented to them. Those subject to water soften, dissolve, and
reduce themselves to boilli. The result is bouillon and its
extracts. Those on the contrary treated with oil harden, assume a
color more or less deep, and finally are carbonized.
"In the first instance, water dissolves and conveys away the
interior juices of the alimentary substances placed in it. In the
second the juices are preserved, for they are insoluble in oil. If
these things dry up it is because a continuous heat vaporizes the
"The two methods have different names, and FRYING is BOILING in
oil or grease substances intended to be eaten. I think I have told
you that officially oil and grease are synonymous; heating the
latter being but a concrete oil."
Section II. APPLICATION.
"Fritures are well received in entertainments into which they
introduce an agreeable variety. They are agreeable to the taste,
preserve their primitive flavor, and may be eaten with the hand, a
thing women are always fond of.
"Thus cooks are able to hide many things that have appeared on the
day before, and remedy unforeseen requisitions on them. It takes
no longer to fry a four pound chop than it does to boil an egg.
"All the merit of the friture is derived from the surprise, or the
invasion of the boiling liquid which carbonizes or burns at the
very instant of immersion of the body placed in it.
"To effect a purpose, the liquid must be hot enough to act
instantaneously. It does not, however, reach S this point until it
has long been submitted to the action of a blazing and hot fire.
"By the following means it may be ascertained if the friture be
heated to the wished-for degree, cut a piece of bread in the form
of a cube, and dip it in the pan for five or six seconds, if you
take it out firm and dark put in what you wish to prepare
immediately. If it be not, stir the fire and begin again.
"The surprise being once effected, moderate the fire that the
action may not be too hurried, and that by a prolonged heat the
juices it contains may be changed and the flavor enhanced.
"You have doubtless observed that fritures dissolve neither the
sugar nor salt their respective natures require. You should not
fail then to reduce those substances to a very fine powder in
order that they may adhere the more readily, and season the dish
"I do not tell you about oils and greases for the different
treatises I have put in your library give you sufficient light.
"Do not forget, however, when you get one of those trout which do
not weigh more than half a pound, and which come from murmuring
streams, far from the capitol, to use the finest olive oil. This
delicate dish duly powdered and garnished with slices of lemon is
fit for a cardinal. [Footnote: Mr. Aulissin, a very well informed
Neapolitan lawyer, and a good amateur performer on the
violoncello, dining one day with me, and eating some thing that
pleased him, said--"Questo e un vero boccone di cardinale."
"Why," said I, in the same tongue, not say "boccone in Re."
"Seignore," said he, "we Italians do nothing; a king cannot be a
gourmand, for royal dinners are too short and solemn. With
cardinals things are very different." He shrugged his shoulders as
"Eperlans (smelt or sprat) should be treated in the same manner.
This is the becfique of the water, and has the same perfume and
"These two prescriptions are founded in the very nature of things.
Experience tells us that olive oil should only be used with things
which are soon cooked, and which do not demand too high a
temperature, because prolonged ebullition developes an
empyreumatic and disagreable taste produced by a few particles of
pulp, which can, being impossible to be gotten rid of, carbonize.
"You tried my furnace, and were the first person who ever
succeeded in producing an immense fried turbot. On that day there
was great rejoicing among the elect.
"Continue to be coeval in all you attempt, and never forget that
from the moment guests enter the salon WE are responsible for
THIRST is the internal feeling of a wish to drink.
A heat of about 32 [degrees] Reaumur, constantly vaporizing the
different fluids the circulation of which sustains life, the
diminution they undergo would unfit them for their purposes, if
they were not renewed and refreshed. The necessity of this renewal
is what we call thirst.
We think the seat of thirst is in the digestive system. When
athirst (we have often felt the sensation when hunting) we feel
distinctly that all the inhaling portions of the nostrils, mouth
and throat are benumbed and hardened, and that if thirst be
sometimes appeased by the application of fluids to other parts of
the body, as in the bath, the reason is that as soon as they are
absorbed they hurry rapidly to the seat of the evil and become
VARIETIES OF THIRST.
Looking at the subject in all its bearings we may count three
varieties of thirst: latent, factitious and permanent.
Latent or habitual thirst, is the insensible equilibrium
established between transpiratory vaporization and the necessity
of supplying what is lost. Thus, though we experience no pain, we
are invited to drink while we eat, and are able to drink at almost
every moment of the day. This thirst accompanies us every where,
and is almost a portion of our existence.
Factitious thirst is peculiar to man, and results from the
instinct which impels him to seek in drink the strength he needs.
It is an artificial enjoyment rather than a natural want. This
thirst is really governless, because the fluids we take have the
faculty of reviving it, and this thirst becomes habitual, makes
drunkards in every country. The consequence is, that they drink as
long as liquor lasts, or until they are utterly overcome.
When, on the other hand, thirst is appeased by pure water, which
seems the most natural remedy, we never drink more than we
Hardening thirst is the result of the increase of the want, and of
the impossibility to satisfy latent thirst.
It is so called because it is accompanied by hardness of the
tongue, dryness of the palate, and a devouring heat in all the
The sensation of thirst is so intense, that in all tongues it is
synonymous with excessive desire, and irrepressible longing: thus
we thirst for gold, wealth, power, science, &c., expressions which
never would have become common had men not have been athirst and
aware of their vengeance.
Appetite is pleasant when it does not reach the point of hunger.
Thirst is not so, and as soon as we feel it we are uncomfortable
and anxious. When there is no possibility of appeasing it, the
state of mind is terrible.
To compensate us for this, the sense of thirst procures us great
pleasure; and when great thirst is appeased, or a delicious drink
is offered to one moderately athirst, the whole papillary system
is aroused, from the tip of the tongue to the extremity of the
We die of thirst more rapidly than of hunger. Men with an
abundance of water, have lived for eight days without bread.
Without water, the system succumbs on the fifth.
The reason is that in starving, man dies more of weakness; in
thirst of a burning fever.
People are not always able to resist thirst so long: in 1787, one
of the hundred Swiss of Louis XVI., died from having been twenty-
four hours without drink.
He was at a cabaret with some of his comrades, and as he was about
to carry his glass to his lips, he was reproached with drinking
oftener than the rest, and with not being able to do a moment
He then made a bet of ten bottles of wine, that he would not drink
for twenty-four hours.
He ceased at once, and sat by, for two hours, seeing the others
The night passed well enough, but at dawn he found it difficult to
do without his habitual glass of brandy.
All the morning he was uneasy and troubled; he went hither and
thither without reason, and seemed not to know what he was about.
At one o'clock he laid down, fancying he would be calmer: he was
really sick, but those about him could not induce him to drink. He
said he could get on till evening: he wished to gain his bet, and
it is probable also, that some military pride was mingled in the
matter, which prevented him from yielding to pain.
He kept up until seven o'clock, but at half-after seven was very
sick and soon died, without being able to swallow a glass of wine
which was presented to him.
I was informed of all these details that very night, by the Sieur
Schneider, the fifer of the hundred Swiss, in the house of whom I
lived at Versailles.
CAUSES OF THIRST.
Many circumstances, either united or separate, contribute to
thirst. We shall mention some which are not without influence on
Heat augments thirst. Whence comes the disposition men have always
had to build their habitations near the sea.
Corporeal labor augments thirst. Persons who employ labourers,
always gratify them by drink--hence the proverb that wine given
them is always well sold.
Dancing increases thirst, and for this reason the ball-room is
always supplied with invigorating drinks.
Declamation also increases thirst, which accounts for the glass of
water readers always seek to drink with grace, and which is always
beside the white handkerchief on the desk.
Genesiac pleasure excites thirst, and accounts for the poetical
descriptions of Cyprus, Amathonte, Gnidus, and other homes of
Venus, in which there are always shady groves and murmuring
Song augments thirst, and therefore all vocalists are said to be
such huge drinkers. A musician myself, I protest against this
assertion, which has neither rhyme nor reason.
The artists in our saloons drink with as much prudence as
sagacity; what they lose in this, however, they atone for on the
other side; if not given to drink, they are untiring gourmands, so
much so, that I am told at the Circle of Transcendental Harmony,
[Footnote: A well known "Musical Society."] the festivals of St.
Cecile lasted twenty-four hours.
Exposure to a rapid current of air, causes a rapid augmentation of
thirst, and I think the following observations will be read with
pleasure by all the lovers of the chase.
It is well known that quail are fond of huge mountains, where
their broods are in more safety, from the fact that the harvests
When the rye is cut, they go into the barley and oats; and when
the latter is being harvested, they go into that portion which is
This is the time to shoot them; because in a small number of
acres, are found all the birds which a few months before were
strewn through a whole commune and are at that time fat as
I went with some friends for the purpose of shooting to a mountain
in the arrondissiment of Nantua, in the canton known as plan
d'Hotonne, where we were about to commence the day's work under a
brighter sun than any Parisian badaud ever saw.
While we were at breakfast a violent north wind arose which was
much in the way of our sport: we however continued.
We had scarcely been out a quarter of an hour, when the most
effeminate of the party said he was thirsty. We now, doubtless,
would have laughed at him, had we not all experienced the same
We all drank, for an ass loaded with refreshments followed us, but
the relief afforded was of brief duration. The thirst soon
appeared with increased intensity, so that some fancied themselves
sick, and others were becoming so, and all talked of returning. To
do so was to have travelled ten leagues for no purpose.
I had time to collect my ideas, and saw the reason of this strange
thirst; and told them we suffered from the effects of three
causes. The dimunition of atmospheric pressure made our
circulation more rapid. The sun heated us, and walking had
increased transpiration. More than all these--the wind dried up
this transpiration, and prevented all moistness of the skin.
I told them that there was no danger, that the enemy was known,
and that we must oppose it.
Precaution however was ineffectual, for their thirst was
quenchless. Water, wine and water, and brandy, all were powerless.
We suffered from thirst even while we drank, and were
uncomfortable all day.
We got through the day, however; the owner of the domain of Latour
entertaining us, joining the provisions we had, to his own stores.
We dined very well and got into the hay-loft, where we slept
The next day's experience showed my theory to be true. The wind
lulled, the sun was not so warm, and we experienced no
inconvenience from thirst.
But a great misfortune had befallen us. We had very prudently
filled our canteens, but they had not been able to resist the many
assaults made on them. They were bodies without souls, and we all
fell into the hands of the cabaret-keepers.
We had to come to that point, not however without murmuring. I
addressed an allocution full of reproaches to the wind, when I saw
a dish fit to be set before a king, "D'epinards a la graisse de
cailles," destined to be eaten with a wine scarcely as good as
that of Surene. [Footnote: A village two leagues from Paris,
famous for its bad wine. There is a proverb which says that to get
rid of a glass of Surene, three things are needed, "a drinker and
two men to hold him in case his courage fail." The same may be
said of Perieux, which people however will drink.]
ON DRINKS. [Footnote: This chapter is purely philosophical: a
description of different kinds of wine does not enter into the
plan I have marked out for myself. If it was, I would never have
finished my book.]
By drinks we mean all liquids which mingle with food.
Water seems to be the natural drink. Wherever there is animal life
it is found, and replaces milk. For adults it is as necessary as
air. WATER. Water is the only fluid which really appeases thirst,
and for that reason only a small quantity of it can be drank. The
majority of other fluids that man drinks are only palliatives, and
had he drank nothing else he never would have said that he drank
without being thirsty. QUICK EFFECT OF DRINKS. Drinks are absorbed
by the animal economy with the most extreme facility. Their effect
is prompt and the relief they furnish is almost instantaneous.
Give the most hungry man you can meet with the richest possible
food, he will eat with difficulty. Give him a glass of wine or of
brandy, and at once he will find himself better.
I can establish this theory by a very remarkable circumstance I
received from my nephew, Colonel Guigard, a man not disposed to
tell long stories. All may rely upon the accuracy of what he has
He was at the head of a detachment returning from the siege of
Jaffa, and was but a few hundred paces from the place where he
expected to find water, and where he met many of the advanced
guard already dead with heat.
Among the victims of this burning climate was a carabinier who was
known to many persons of the detachment.
Many of his comrades who approached him for the last time, either
to inherit what he had left, or to bid him adieu, were amazed to
find his limbs flexible and something flexible around his heart.
"Give him a drop of sacre chien" said the lustig of the troupe.
"If he is not too far gone into the other world, he will come back
to taste it."
At the reception of the first spoonful of spirits he opened his
eyes: they then rubbed his temples and gave him a drop or two.
After about an hour he was able to sit up in the saddle.
He was taken to a fountain, nursed during the night, and carefully
attended to. On the next day he reached Cairo.
There is one thing very worthy of attention; the instinct which
leads us to look for intoxicating drinks.
Wine, the most pleasant of all drinks, whether due to Noah who
planted the vine, or to Bacchus who expressed the juice of the
grape, dates back to the infancy of the world. Beer, which is
attributed to Osiris, dates to an age far beyond history.
All men, even those we call savages, have been so tormented by the
passion for strong drinks, that limited as their capacities were,
they were yet able to manufacture them.
They made the milk of their domestic animals sour: they extracted
the juice of many animals and many fruits in which they suspected
the idea of fermentation to exist. Wherever men are found, strong
liquors are met with, and are used in festivities, sacrifices,
marriages, funeral rites, and on all solemn occasions.
For many centuries wine was drank and sung before any persons had
an idea that it was possible to extract the spirituous portion,
which is the essence of its power. The Arabs, however, taught us
the art of distillation, invented by them to extract the perfume
of flowers, and especially of the rose, so celebrated in their
poems. Then persons began to fancy that in wine a source of
excitement might be found to give taste a peculiar exaltation. By
gradual experiments alcohol, spirits of wine, and brandy were
Alcohol is the monarch of liquids, and takes possession of the
extreme tastes of the palate. Its various preparations offer us
countless new flavors, and to certain medicinal remedies, it gives
an energy they could not well do without. It has even become a
formidable weapon: the natives of the new world having been more
utterly destroyed by brandy than by gunpowder.
The method by which alcohol was discovered, has led to yet more
important results, as it consisted in the separation and
exhibition of the constituent parts of a body, it became a guide
to those engaged in analogous pursuits, and made us acquainted
with new substances, such as quinine, morphine, strychnine and
other similar ones.
Be this as it may, the thirst for a liquid which nature has
shrouded in veils, the extraordinary appetite acting on all races
of men, under all climates and temperatures, is well calculated to
attract the attention of the observer.
I have often been inclined to place the passion for spirituous
liquors, utterly unknown to animals, side by side with anxiety for
the future, equally strange to them, and to look on the one and
the other as distinctive attributes of the last sublunary
AN EPISODE ON THE END OF THE WORLD.
I said--last sublunary revolution, and this idea awakened many
Many things demonstrate to us that our globe has undergone many
changes, each of which was, so to say, "an end of the world." Some
instinct tells us many other changes are to follow.
More than once, we have thought these revolutions likely to come,
and the comet of Jerome Lalande has sent many persons to the
The effect of all this has been that every one is disposed to
surround this catastrophe with vengeance, exterminating angels,
trumps and other accessories.
Alas! there is no use to take so much trouble to ruin us. We are
not worth so much display, and if God please, he can change the
surface of the globe without any trouble.
Let us for a moment suppose that one of those wandering stars, the
route and mission of which none know, and the appearance of which
is always accompanied by some traditional terror; let us suppose
that it passes near enough to the sun, to be charged with a
superabundance of caloric, and approach near enough to us to
create a heat of sixty degrees Reaumur over the whole earth (as
hot again as the temperature caused by the comet of 1811.)
All vegetation would die, all sounds would cease. The earth would
revolve in silence until other circumstances had evolved other
germs: yet the cause of this disaster would have remained lost in
the vast fields of air, and would never have approached us nearer
than some millions of leagues.
This event, which in the main, has ever seemed to me a fit subject
for reverie, and I never ceased for a moment to dwell on it.
This ascending heat is curious to be looked after, and it is not
uninteresting to follow its effects, expansion, action, and to
How great it was during the first, second, and subsequent days.
What effect it had on the earth, and water, and on the formation
and mingling, and detonation of gasses.
What influence it had on men, as far as age, sex, strength and
weakness are concerned.
What influence it has on obedience to the laws, submission to
authority, and respect to persons and property.
What one should do to escape from danger.
What influence it has on love, friendship, parental affection,
self-love and devotion.
What is its influence on the religious sentiments, faith,
resignation and hope.
History can furnish us a few facts on its moral influence, for the
end of the world has more than once been predicted and determined.
I am very sorry that I cannot tell my readers how I settled all
this, but I will not rob them of the pleasure of thinking of the
matter themselves. This may somewhat shorten some of their
sleepless hours, and ensure them a few siestas during the day.
Great danger dissolves all bonds. When the yellow fever was in
Philadelphia, in 1792, husbands closed the doors on their wives,
children deserted their fathers, and many similar phenomena
Quod a nobis Deus avertat!
I HAVE looked through various dictionaries for the word
gourmandise and have found no translation that suited me. It is
described as a sort of confusion of gluttony and voracity. Whence
I have concluded that lexicographers, though very pleasant people
in other respects, are not the sort of men to swallow a partridge
wing gracefully with one hand, with a glass of Laffitte or clos de
Vougeot in the other.
They were completely oblivious of social gourmandise, which unites
Athenian elegance, Roman luxury and French delicacy; which
arranges wisely, flavors energetically, and judges profoundly.
This is a precious quality which might be a virtue and which is
certainly the source of many pure enjoyments.
Let us understand each other.
Gourmandise is a passionate preference, well determined and
satisfied, for objects which flatter our taste.
Gourmandise is hostile to all excesses: any man who becomes drunk
or suffers from indigestion is likely to be expunged from the
Gourmandise also comprehends, friandise (passion for light
delicacies) for pastry, comfitures, etc. This is a modification
introduced for the special benefit of women, and men like the
Look at gourmandise under any aspect you please, and it deserves
Physically, it is a demonstration of the healthy state of the
organs of nutrition.
Morally, it is implicit resignation to the orders of God, who made
us eat to live, invites us to do so by appetite, sustains us by
flavor, and rewards us by pleasure.
ADVANTAGES OF GOURMANDISE.
Considered from the points of view of political economy,
gourmandise is the common bond which unites the people in
reciprocal exchanges of the articles needed for daily consumption.
This is the cause of voyages from one pole to the other, for
brandy, spices, sugars, seasonings and provisions of every kind,
even eggs and melons.
This it is which gives a proportional price to things, either
mediocres, good or excellent, whether the articles derive them out
of, or from nature.
This it is that sustains the emulation of the crowd of fishermen,
huntsmen, gardeners and others, who every day fill the wealthiest
kitchens with the result of their labours.
This it is which supports the multitude of cooks, pastry-cooks,
confectioners, etc., who employ workmen of every kind, and who
perpetually put in circulation, an amount of money which the
shrewdest calculator cannot imagine.
Let us observe that the trades and occupations dependent on
gourmandise have this great advantage, that on one hand it is
sustained by great misfortunes and on the other by accidents which
happen from day to day.
In the state of society we now have reached, it is difficult to
conceive of a people subsisting merely on bread and vegetables.
Such a nation if it existed would certainly be subjected by
carnivorous enemies, as the Hindoos were, to all who ever chose to
attack them. If not it would be converted by the cooks of its
neighbors as the Beotiens were, after the battle of Leuctres.
Gourmandise offers great resources to fiscality, for it increases
customs, imports, etc. All we consume pays tribute in one degree
or another, and there is no source of public revenue to which
gourmands do not contribute.
Let us speak for a moment of that crowd of preparers who every
year leave France, to instruct foreign nations in gourmandise. The
majority succeed and obedient to the unfasting instinct of a
Frenchman's fever, return to their country with the fruits of
their economy. This return is greater than one would think.
Were nations grateful, to what rather than to gourmandise should
France erect a monument.
POWER OF GOURMANDISE.
In 1815, the treaty of the month of November, imposed on France
the necessity of paying the allies in three years, 750,000,000
Added to this was the necessity of meeting the demands of
individuals of various nations, for whom the allied sovereigns had
stipulated, to the amount of more than 300,000,000.
To this must be added requisitions of all kinds by the generals of
the enemies who loaded whole wagons, which they sent towards the
frontier, and which the treasury ultimately had to pay for. The
total was more than 1,500,000,000 francs.
One might, one almost should have feared, that such large
payments, collected from day to day, would have produced want in
the treasury, a deprecation of all fictitious values, and
consequently all the evils which befall a country that has no
money, while it owes much.
"Alas," said the rich, as they saw the wagon going to the Rue
Vivienne for its load; "all our money is emigrating, next year we
will bow down to a crown: we are utterly ruined; all our
undertakings will fail, and we will not be able to borrow. There
will be nothing but ruin and civil death."
The result contradicted all these fears; the payments, to the
amazement of financiers, were made without trouble, public credit
increased, and all hurried after loans. During the period of this
superpurgation, the course of exchange, an infallible measure of
the circulating of money, was in our favor. This was an
arithmetical proof that more money came into France than left it.
What power came to our aid? What divinity operated this miracle?
When the Britons, Germans, Teutons, Cimmerians, and Scythes, made
an irruption into France, they came with extreme voracity and with
stomachs of uncommon capacity.
They were not long contented with the cheer furnished them by a
forced hospitality, but aspired to more delicate enjoyments. The
Queen City, ere long, became one immense refectory. The new comers
ate in shops, cafes, restaurants, and even in the streets.
They gorged themselves with meat, fish, game, truffles, pastry and
They drank with an avidity quite equal to their appetite, and
always called for the most costly wine, expecting in those unknown
enjoyments, pleasures they did not meet with.
Superficial observers could not account for this eating, without
hunger, which seemed limitless. All true Frenchmen, however,
rubbed their hands, and said, "they are under the charm; they have
spent this evening more money than they took from the treasury in
This epoch was favorable to all those who contributed to the
gratification of the taste. Very made his fortune, Achard laid the
foundation of his, and Madame Sullot, the shop of whom, in the
Palais Royal, was not twenty feet square, sold twelve thousand
petits pates a day.
The effect yet lasts, for strangers crowd to Paris from all parts
of Europe, to rest from the fatigues of war. Our public monuments,
it may be, are not so attractive as the pleasures of gourmandise,
everywhere elaborated in Paris, a city essentially gourmand.
A LADY GOURMAND.
Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of
their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot
enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed.
Nothing is more pleasant than to see a pretty woman, her napkin
well placed under her arms, one of her hands on the table, while
the other carries to her mouth, the choice piece so elegantly
carved. Her eyes become brilliant, her lips glow, her conversation
is agreeable and all her motions become graceful. With so many
advantages she is irresistible, and even Cato, the censor, would
feel himself moved.
I will here record what to me is a bitter reflection.
I was one day most commodiously fixed at table, by the side of the
pretty Madame M----d, and was inwardly rejoicing at having
obtained such an advantageous position, when she said "your
health." I immediately began a complimentary phrase, which
however, I did not finish, for turning to her neighbor on the
right, she said "Trinquons," they touched each others glasses.
This quick transition seemed a perfidy, and the passage of many
years have not made me forget it.
ARE WOMEN GOURMANDS?
The penchant of the fair sex for gourmandise is not unlike
instinct; for gourmandise is favorable to beauty.
A series of exact and rigorous examinations, has shown that a
succulent and delicate person on careful diet, keeps the
appearance of old age long absent.
It makes the eyes more brilliant, and the color more fresh. It
makes the muscles stronger, and as the depression of the muscles
causes wrinkles, those terrible enemies of beauty, it is true that
other things being equal, those who know how to eat, are ten years
younger than those ignorant of that science.
Painters and sculptors are well aware of this, for they never
represent those to whom abstinence is a matter of duty, such as
anchorites and misers, except as pale, thin, and wrinkled.
THE EFFECTS OF GOURMANDISE ON SOCIABILITY.
Gourmandise is one of the principle bonds of society. It gradually
extends that spirit of conviviality, which every day unites
different professions, mingles them together, and diminishes the
angles of conviviality.
This it is, which induces every amphitryon to receive his guests
well, and also excites the gratitude of the latter when they see
themselves well taken care of: here is the place to reprobate
those stupid masticators, who with the most guilty indifference to
the greatest luxuries, and who with sacrilegious indifference
inhale the odorous perfume of nectar.
GENERAL LAW.--Every display of high intelligence, makes explicit
praise necessary. Delicate praise is necessary, wherever a wish to
please is evident.
INFLUENCE OF GOURMANDISE ON CONJUGAL HAPPINESS.
When gourmandise is shared with another, it has the greatest
influence on conjugal happiness.
A gourmand couple have at least once a day a pleasant occasion to
meet, for even those who sleep apart (and there are many) dine
together. They talk of what they have eaten, of what they have
seen elsewhere, of fashionable dishes and of new inventions, etc.,
etc. We all know how full of charms this CHIT CHAT is.
Music, doubtless, has many charms for those who love it; but to
succeed, one must make a business of it.
Besides, sometimes one has a cold, misplaces the score, has the
sick headache or feels inert.
One necessity calls each of the couple to the table, where the
same feeling retains them. They exhibit naturally slight
attentions to each other, which evinces a desire to please, and
the manner in which they act to each other speaks loudly of the
manner of their lives.
This observation, though new in France, has not escaped the
attention of the English novelist, Fielding, who in Pamela gives
the well-known instance of the manner in which the heroine and her
husband lived on the one hand, and the more magnificent but
unhappy life of the elder brother and his wife.
Honour then to gourmandise as we present it to our readers,
inasmuch as it diverts man neither from occupation nor from duty;
for as the dissoluteness of Sardanapulus did not cause the world
to look on woman with horror, neither did Vitellius' excesses
induce the world to turn aside from a well-ordered entertainment.
When gourmandise becomes gluttony, voracity or debauchery, it
loses its name and attributes, falling into the hands of the
moralist who will treat it by advice, or the medical man who will
treat it by remedy. Gourmandise, as the professor has described
it, has a name only in French; neither the Latin gula, English
"gluttony" nor German lusternheit, expresses it, and we recommend
all who attempt a translation of this instructive book to preserve
the word, changing the article which produces it only. Thus they
did with coquetterie.
NOTE OF A PATRIOT GASTRONOMER.
"I observe with pride, that gourmandise and coquettery, the two
great modifications which society has effected in our imperious
wants, are both of French origin."
ALL WHO WISH TO BE ARE NOT GOURMANDS.
THERE are individuals to whom nature has refused a fineness of
organs and a degree of attention, without which the most succulent
food passes unperceived.
Physiology has already recognized the first of these varieties, by
exhibiting the tongue of those unfortunate men who are badly
provided with the means of appreciating flavors and tastes. Such
persons have but an obtuse sensation, for to them taste is what
light is to the blind.
The second of these varieties is composed of absent minded men, of
ambitious persons, and others, who wish to attend to two things at
once, and who eat only to eat.
Such was Napoleon; he was irregular in his meals and ate quickly.
When hungry, his appetite had to be satisfied at once, and he was
so completely served, that at any hour he could have fowl, game or
GOURMANDS BY DESTINY.
There is however, a privileged class, which organic and material
organization invites to the enjoyments of the taste.
I was always a disciple of Lavater and Gall, and believe in innate
As persons have been born who see, walk, and hear badly, because
they are near-sighted, lame, or deaf, why may there not be others
inclined to peculiar sensations.
To the most careless observer there will ever be presented faces
which bear the undeniable expression of some dominant sentiment,
such as disdainful impertinence, self-satisfaction, misanthropy,
sensuality, &c. A very meaningless face may express all this, but
when the face has a determined expression, one is rarely mistaken.
Passions agitate the muscles, and often when a man is silent, the
various feelings which agitate him may be read on his face. This
tension, though habitual leave sensible traces, and give the face
a permanent and well defined character.
The persons predestined to gourmandise are in general of medium
stature. Their faces are either round or square, and small, their
noses short and their chins rounded. The women are rather pretty
than beautiful, and they have a slight tendency to obesity.
Those who are fondest of friandises have delicate features,
smaller, and are distinguished by a peculiar expression of the
Agreeable guests should be sought for among those who have this
appearance. They receive all that is offered them, eat slowly, and
taste advisedly. They do not seek to leave places too quickly
where they have been kindly received. They are always in for all
the evening, for they know all games, and all that is neccessary
for a gastronomical soiree.
Those, on the contrary, to whom nature has refused a desire for
the gratifications of taste, have a long nose and face. Whatever
be their statures, the face seems out of order. Their hair is dark
and flat, and they have no embonpoint. They invented pantaloons.
Women whom nature has thus afflicted, are very angulous, are
uncomfortable at the table, and live on lenten fare.
This physiological theory will, I trust, meet with not many
contradictions: any one may verify the matter. I will, however,
rely on facts.
I was sitting one day at a great entertainment, and saw opposite
to me a very pretty woman with a very sensual face. I leaned
towards my neighbor and said, that the lady with such features
must be gourmande. "Bah!" said he, "she is not more than fifteen;
she is not old enough--let us see though."
The beginning was not favorable, and I was afraid of being
compromised. During the first two courses, the young woman ate
with a discretion which really amazed me. The dessert came, it was
brilliant as it was abundant, and gave me some hopes. I was not
deceived, for she not only ate what was set before her, but sent
for dishes which were at the other end of the table. She tasted
every thing, and we were surprised that so small a stomach could
contain so much. My diagnostics succeeded and science triumphed.
Two years after I met this same lady, who had been married a week.
She had become far more beautiful, was something of a coquette,
for fashion permitted her to exhibit her charms. Her husband was a
man worth looking at, but he was like one of those ventriloquists
who laugh on one side of the face and weep on the other. He was
very fond of his wife, but when any one spoke to her, quivered
with jealousy. The latter sentiment prevailed, for he took his
wife to one of the most remote departments of France, and I, at
least, can write no more of her biography.
I made a similar observation about the Duke of Decres, long
minister of marine.
We knew that he was large, short, dark and square; that his face
was round, that his chin protruded, that his lips were thick, and
that he had a giant's mouth. I therefore had no hesitation in
proclaiming him fond of good cheer and of women.
This physiognomical remark I whispered to a woman I thought very
pretty and very discreet. I was mistaken though, for she was a
daughter of Eve, and my secret was made known. One evening his
excellency was informed of the idea I had deduced from his face.
I ascertained this the next day, by a pleasant letter which I
received from the Duke, in which he insisted that he had not the
two qualities I had attributed to him.
I confessed myself beaten. I replied that nature does nothing in
vain; that she had evidently formed him for certain duties, and
that if he did not fulfil them he contradicted his appearance.
That besides, I had no right to expect such confidence, etc., etc.
There the correspondence terminated, but a few days after all
Paris was amused by the famous encounter between the minister and
his cook, in which his excellency did not get the best of the
matter. If after such an affair the cook was not dismissed, (and
he was not,) I may conclude that the duke was completely overcome
by the artist's talents, and that he could not find another one to
suit his taste so exactly, otherwise he would have gotten rid of
so warlike a servant.
As I wrote these lines, during a fine winter evening, Mr. Cartier,
once first violinist of the opera, entered my room and sat by the
fire. I was full of my subject, and looked attentively at him. I
said, "My dear Professor, how comes it that you, who have every
feature of gourmandise, are not a gourmand?" "I am," said he, "but
I make abstinence a duty." "Is that an act of prudence?" He did
not reply, but he uttered a sigh, a la Walter Scott.
GOURMANDS BY PROFESSION.
If there be gourmands by predestination, there are also gourmands
by profession. There are four classes of these: Financiers, men of
letters, doctors, and devotees.
Financiers are the heroes of gourmandise. Hero is here the proper
name, for there was some contention, and the men who had titles
crowd all others beneath their titles and escutcheons. They would
have triumphed, but for the wealth of those they opposed. Cooks
contended with genealogists; and though dukes did not fail to
laugh at their amphitryon, they came to the dinner, and that was
Those persons who make money easily must be gourmands.
The inequality of wealth produces inequality of wants. He who can
pay every day for a dinner fit for an hundred persons, is often
satisfied after having eaten the thigh of a chicken. Art then must
use well its resources to revive appetite. Thus Mondar became a
gourmand, and others with the same tastes collects around him.
Causes of another nature, though far less baneful, act on
physicians, who, from the nature of things, are gourmands. To
resist the attractions set before them they must necessarily be
made of bronze.
One day I ventured to say, (Doctor Corvisart was at the end of the
table--the time was about 1806):--
"You are," said I, with the air of an inspired puritan, "the last
remnant of a composition which once covered all France. The
members of it are either annihilated or dispersed. No longer do we
see farmers general, abbes, chevaliers, &c. Bear the burden they
have bequeathed to you, even if you take the three hundred
Spartans who died at Thermopylae; such a fate should be yours."
Nobody contradicted me.
At dinner I made a remark which was worthy of notice:--
Doctor Corvisart was a very pleasant man when he pleased, and was
very fond of iced champagne. For this reason, while all the rest
of the company were dull and idle, he dealt in anecdotes and
stories. On the contrary, when the dessert was put on, and
conversation became animated, he became serious and almost morose.
From this and other observations, I deduced the following
conclusion: Champagne, the first effect of which is exhilarating,
in the result is stupefying, on account of the excessant carbonic
gases it contains.
As I measure doctors by their diplomatu, I will not reproach them
for the severity with which they treat their invalids.
As soon as one has the misfortune to fall into their hands, one
has to give up all we have previously thought agreeable.
I look on the majority of these prohibitions as useless. I say
useless, because patients never desire what is injurious to them.
A reasonable physician should never lose sight of the natural
tendency of our inclinations, nor forget to ascertain if our
penchants are painful in themselves, or improving to health. A
little wine, or a few drops of liquor, brings the smiles to the
most hypochondriac faces.
Besides, they know that their severe prescriptions are almost
always without effect, and the patient seeks to avoid him. Those
who are around him, never are in want of a reason to gratify him.
People, however, will die.
The ration of a sick Russian, in 1815, would have made a porter
drunk. There was no retrenchment to be made, for military
inspectors ran from day to day through the hospitals, and watched
over the furnishment and the service of the various houses.
I express my opinions with the more confidence, because it is
sustained by much experience, and that the most fortunate
practitioners rely on my system.
The canon Rollet who died about fifty years ago, was a great
drinker; and the first physician he employed, forbid him to use
wine at all. When, however, he came again, the doctor found his
patient in bed, and before him the corpus delicti, i.e., a table
covered with a white cloth, a chrystal cup, a handsome bottle, and
a napkin to wipe his lips with.
The doctor at once became enraged, and was about to withdraw, when
the canon said in a lamentable voice, "doctor, remember, if you
forbade my drinking, you did not prohibit my looking at the
The physician who attended M. Montlusin de Point de Veyle was far
more cruel, for he not only forbid his patient to touch wine, but
made him drink large quantities of water.
A short time after the doctor had left, Mme. de Montlusin, anxious
to fulfil the requisition of the prescription, and contribute to
her husband's recovery, gave him a great glass of water, pure and
limpid as possible.
The patient received it kindly and sought to drink it with
resignation. At the first swallow, however, he stopped, and giving
the glass back to his wife, said, "Take this, dear, and keep it
for the next dose; I have always heard, one should never trifle
with remedies." Men of letters in the world of gastronomy, have a
place nearly equal to that of men of medical faculty.
Under the reign of Louis XIV., men of letters were all given to
drink. They conformed to fashion and the memoirs of the day, in
this respect, are very defying. They are now gourmands,--a great
I am far from agreeing with the cynic Geoffroy, who used to say
that modern works were deficient in power because authors now
drank only eau sucree.
I think he made two mistakes, both in the fact and the
The age we live in is rich in talents; they injure each other
perhaps by their multitude; but posterity, judging with more
calmness, will see much to admire. Thus we do justice to the great
productions of Racine and Moliere which when written were coldly
The social position of men of letters was never more agreeable.
They no longer live in the garrets they used to inhabit, for the
field of literature has become fertile. The stream of Hippocrene
rolls down golden sands: equals of all, they never hear the
language of protection, and gourmandise overwhelms them with its
Men of letters are courted on account of their talent, and because
their conversation is in general piquant, and because it has for
some time been established, that every society should have its man
These gentlemen always come a little too late: they are not
however received the most on that account, for they have been
anxiously expected: they are petted up to induce them to come
again, are flattered to make them brilliant, and as they find all
this very natural, they grow used to it and become genuine
Among the friends of gourmandise are many very devout persons.
By the word devotee, we understand what Louis XIV. and Moliere
did, persons the piety of whom consists in external observances;
pious and charitable persons have nothing to do with this class.
Let us see how they effect this--among those who work out their
salvation, the greatest number seek the mildest method. Those who
avoid society, sleep on the ground and wear hair cloth, are always
Now there are to them certain damnable things never to be
permitted, such as balls, plays, and other amusements.
While they and those who enjoy them are abominated, gourmandise
assumes an altogether different aspect, and becomes almost
Jure divino, man is the king of nature and all that earth creates
was produced for him. For him the quail becomes fat, the mocha has
its perfume, and sugar becomes beneficial to the health.
Why then should we not use with suitable moderation the goods
which Providence offers us, especially as we continue to look on
them as perishable things, and as they exalt our appreciation of
Other not less weighty reasons strengthen these--can we receive
too kindly those persons who take charge of our souls? Should we
not make a meeting with them pleasant and agreeable?
Sometimes the gifts of Comus come unexpectedly. An old college
companion, an old friend, a penitent who humbles himself, a
kinsman who makes himself known or a protege recalls them.
This has ever been the case.
Convents were the true ware-houses of the most adorable delacies:
for that reason they have been so much regretted. [Footnote: The
best liquors in France were made of the Visitandines. The monks of
Niort invented the conserve of Angelica, and the bread flavoured
with orange flowers by the notes of Chiteau-Thierry is yet
famous. The nuns of Belley used also to make a delicious conserve
of nuts. Alas, it is lost, I am afraid.]
Many monastic orders, especially the Bernardins paid great
attention to good cheer. The cooks of the clergy reached the very
limits of the art, and M. de Pressigny (who died Archbishop of
Besancon) returned from the conclave which elected Pro Sesto, he
said the best dinner he ate in Rome was given by the General of
CHEVALIERS AND ABBES.
We cannot bring this article to a better end than to make an
honourable mention of two corporations we saw in all their glory:
we mean the Chevaliers and the Abbes.
How completely gourmand they were. Their expanded nostrils, their
acute eyes, and coral lips could not he mistaken, neither could
their gossiping tongue; each class, however, ate in a peculiar
There was something military in the bearing of the Chevaliers.
They ate their delicacies with dignity, worked calmly, and cast
horizontal looks of approbation at both the master and mistress of
The Abbes however, used to come to the table with more care, and
reached out their hands as the cat snatches chestnuts from the
fire. Their faces were all enjoyment, and there was a
concentration about their looks more easy to conceive of, than to
As three-fourths of the present generation have seen nothing like
either the Abbes, or Chevaliers, and as it is necessary to
understand them, to be able to appreciate many books written in
the eighteenth century, we will borrow from the author of the
Historical Treatise on Duels, a few pages which will fully satisfy
all persons about this subject. (See Varieties, No. 20.)
LONGEVITY OF GOURMANDS.
I am happy, I cannot be more so, to inform my readers that good
cheer is far from being injurious, and that all things being
equal, gourmands live longer than other people. This was proved by
a scientific dissertation recently read at the academy, by Doctor
He compares the different states of society, in which good cheer
is attended to, with those where no attention is paid to it, and
has passed through every scale of the ladder. He has compared the
various portions of Paris, in which people were more or less
comfortable. All know that in this respect there is extreme
difference, as for instance between the Faubourg St. Antoine and
the Chaussee d' Antin.
The doctor extended his research to the departments of France, and
compared the most sterile and fertile together, and always
obtained a general result in favor of the diminution of mortality,
in proportion universally as the means of subsistence improve.
Those who cannot well sustain themselves will be at least wise, to
know that death will deliver them soon.
The two extremes of this progression are, that in the most highly
favored ranks of life but one individual in fifty dies, while of
those who are poorer four do.
Those who indulge in good cheer, are rarely, or never sick. Alas!
they often fall into the domain of the faculty, who call them good
patients: as however they have no great degree of vitality, and
all portions of their organization are better sustained, nature
has more resources, and the body incomparably resists destruction.
This physiological truth may be also sustained by history, which
tells us that as often as impervious circumstances, such as war,
sieges, the derangement of seasons, etc., diminish the means of
subsistence, such times have ever been accompanied by contagious
disease and a great increase of mortality.
The idea of Lafarge would beyond a doubt have succeeded in Paris,
if those who had advanced it had introduced into their
calculations the truths developed by Doctor Villermet.
They calculated mortality according to Buffoon's tables, and those
of Parcieux and others, all of which were based on the aggregate
of all classes and conditions. Those who made the estimate,
however, forgot the dangers of infancy, indulged in general
calculations, and the speculation failed.
This may not have been the only, hut it was the principal cause.
For this observation, we are indebted to the Professor Pardessus.
M. de Belloy, archbishop of Paris, had a slight appetite, but a
very distinct one. He loved good cheer and I have often seen his
patriarchal face lighten up at the appearance of any choice dish.
Napoleon always on such occasions paid him deference and respect.
IN the preceding chapter, we have seen that the distinctive
characteristics of those who have more pretension than right to
the honors of gourmandise, consists in the fact, that, at the best
spread table, their eyes are dull and their face inanimate.
They are not worthy of having treasures, when they do not
appreciate what is exhibited to them. It, however, was very
interesting for us to point them out, and we have sought every
where for information on so important a matter, as who should be
our guests and our hosts.
We set about this with an anxiety which ensures success, and, in
consequence of our perseverance, we are able to present to the
corps of amphitryon, gastronomical tests, a discovery which will
do honor to the nineteenth century.
By gastronomical tests, we mean dishes of so delicious a flavor
that their very appearance excites the gustatory organs of every
healthy man. The consequence is, that all those who do not evince
desire, and the radiancy of ecstasy, may very properly be set down
as unworthy of the honours of the society and the pleasures
attached to them.
The method of TESTS duly deliberated on, and examined in the great
council, has been described in the golden book, in words of an
unchangeable tongue, as follows:
Utcumque ferculum, eximii et bene noti saporis appositum fuerit,
fiat autopsia convivoe; et nisi facies ejus ae oculi vertantur ad
ecstasim, notetur ut indignus.
This was rendered into the vernacular, by the translator of the
grand council, as follows:
"Whenever a dish of a distinguished and good flavor is served, the
guests should be attentively watched, and those, the faces of whom
do not express pleasure, should be marked as unworthy."
Tests are relative, and should be proportioned to the various
classes of society. All things considered, it should be arranged
so as to create admiration and surprise. It is a dynameter, the
power of which should increase as we ascend in society. The test
for a householder in La Rue Coquenard, would not suit a second
clerk, and would be unnoticed at the table of a financier, or a
In the enumeration of the dishes we think worthy of being
considered as tests, we will begin at the lowest grade, and will
gradually ascend so as to elucidate the theory, so that all may
not only use it with benefit, but also invent a new series
calculated for the sphere in which they chance to be placed.
We will now give a list of the dishes we think fit to be served as
tests; we have divided them into three series of gradual ascents,
following the order indicated above.
FIRST SERIES.--INCOME OF 5,000 FRANCS.
A breast of veal baked in its own juice.
A turkey stuffed with Lyons chestnuts.
Eggs a la neige.
Sourkrout, with sausages dressed with lard, fume de Strasburg.
EXPRESSION. "Peste; that looks well; let us pay our devoirs to
SECOND SERIES.--INCOME 15,000 FRANCS.
A filet de boeuf pique, and baked in its juice, with pickles.
A quarter of Chevreuil.
A Turkey Truffee.
EXCLAMATION. "My dear sir, this is pleasant indeed!"
THIRD SERIES.--INCOME 30,000 FRANCS, OR MORE.
A fowl weighing seven pounds, stuffed with truffles, so that it
has become a spheroid.
A patte perigord in the form of a bastion.
A cask a la Chambord richly dressed and decorated.
A pike stuffed with craw-fish secundum artum.
A pheasant dressed a la sainte alliance.
Asparagus, large as possible, served up in osmazome.
Two dozen ortolans a la provencale, as the dish is described in
the Cook's Secretary.
A pyramid of sweet meats, flavored with rose and vanilla.
EXPRESSION. "Monsieur, or Monseigneur, your cook is a man of
mind. Such dishes we eat only at your house."
ON THE PLEASURES OF THE TABLE.
MAN of all the animals who live on the earth, is beyond doubt, the
one who experiences most suffering.
Nature condemned him to suffering by robbing him of hair, by
giving him such a peculiar formation of his feet, also by the
instinct of destruction, and of war which has followed man every
Animals have never been stricken with this curse, and with the
exception of a few contests, caused by the instinct of
reproduction, harm would be absolutely unknown to the lower
animals of creation. Man, though he cannot appreciate pleasure
except by a small number of organs, may yet be liable to intense
This decree of destiny was engraved by a crowd of maladies, which
originated in the social system. The result is that the most
intense pleasure one can imagine, cannot atone for certain pains,
such as the gout, the tooth-ache, etc., acute rheumatisms,
strictures, and many other diseases we might mention.
This practical fear of pain has had the effect, that without even
perceiving it, man has rushed into an opposite direction, and has
devoted himself to the small number of pleasures nature has placed
at his disposal.
ORIGIN OF THE PLEASURES OF THE TABLE.
Meals, as we understand the word, began at the second stage of the
history of humanity. That is to say as soon as we ceased to live
on fruits alone. The preparation and distribution of food made the
union of the family a necessity, at least once a day. The heads of
families then distributed the produce of the chase, and grown
children did as much for their parents.
These collections, limited at first to near relations, were
ultimately extended to neighbors and friends.
At a later day when the human species was more widely extended,
the weary traveler used to sit at such boards and tell what he had
seen in foreign lands. Thus hospitality was produced, and its
rights were recognized everywhere. There was never any one so
ferocious as not to respect him who had partaken of his bread and
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE PLEASURE OF EATING AND THE PLEASURES OF
Such from the nature of things, should be the elements of the
pleasures of the table which, where eating is a necessity, of
course takes the precedence.
The pleasure of eating is a peculiar sensation directed to the
satisfaction of a necessity. The pleasures of the table is a
reflected sensation, originating in various facts, places, things
We share with animals in the pleasure of eating. They and we have
hunger which must he satisfied.
It is peculiar to the human race, for it supposes a predisposition
for food, for the place of meeting, and for guests.
The pleasures of the table exact, if not hunger, at least
appetite. The table is often independent of hoth the one and the
This we may see at every entertainment.
At the first course every one eats and pays no attention to
conversation; all ranks and grades are forgotten together in the
great manufacture of life. When, however, hunger begins to be
satisfied, reflection begins, and conversation commences. The
person who, hitherto, had been a mere consumer, becomes an amiable
guest, in proportion as the master of all things provides him with
the means of gratification.
The pleasures of the table afford neither ravishing pleasure,
ecstasy, nor transport, but it gains in intensity what it loses in
duration. It is the more valuable because it exposes us to all
other gratifications and even consoles us for their loss.
After a good dinner body and soul enjoy a peculiar happiness.
Physically, as the brain becomes refreshed, the face lightens up,
the colors become heightened, and a glow spreads over the whole
Morally, the mind becomes sharpened, witticisms circulate. If La
Farre and Saint Aulaire descend to posterity with the reputation
of spiritual authors, they owe it especially to the fact that they
were pleasant guests.
Besides, there are often found collected around the same table,
all the modifications of society which extreme sociability has
introduced among us: love, friendship, business, speculation,
power, ambition, and intrigue, all enhance conviviality. Thus it
is that it produces fruits of all imaginable flavors.
An immediate consequence of all these antecedents is that human
industry has toiled to augment the duration of the gratifications
of the table.
Poets complain that the throat is too short for the uses of
degustation, and others lament the want of capacity of the
stomach. Some even regret that digestion is accomplished in a
single act and not divided into two.
This was but an extreme effort to amplify the enjoyments of taste;
in this respect, however, it is impossible to exceed the limits
imposed by nature, and an appeal was made to accessories, which
offered more latitude.
Vases and goblets were crowned with flowers; crowns were
distributed to the guests, and dinners served beneath the vault of
heaven, in groves, and amid all the wonders of nature.
Music and song were made to increase the pleasures of the table.
Thus while the king of the Pheacians ate, the singer Phemius sang
the praises of the wars and warriors of other days.
Often dancers and pantomimists of both sexes, in all possible
costumes, occupied the attention without injuring the pleasure of
the meal. The most exquisite perfumes were diffused in the air,
and guests were often waited on by unveiled beauty, so that every
sense was appealed to.
I might consume many pages in proving what I advance. The Greek
authors and our old chroniclers only need to be copied. These
researches, however, only need to be made to be evident, and my
erudition would be of little value
THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY.
We have adopted to a greater or less degree various methods of
enjoyment, and have, by new discoveries, somewhat enhanced the
The delicacy of our tastes would not permit the vomitoria of the
Romans to remain. We did better, however, and accomplished the
same object in a more pleasant manner.
Dishes of such an attractive flavor have been increased that they
perpetually reproduce the appetite. They are so light that they
flatter the appetite without loading the stomach. Seneca would
have called them NUBES ESCULENTAS.
We have advanced so far in alimentation that if business called us
from the table, or if it became necessary for us to sleep, the
duration of the meal would have been almost indeterminable.
One must not, however, believe that all of these accessories are
indispensable to the pleasures of the table. Pleasure is enjoyed
in almost all its extent when the following conditions are united:
good cheer, good wine, a pleasant company, and time.
I have often, therefore, wished to have been present at one of
those pleasant repasts which Horace invited one of his neighbors
to share, viz: a good chicken, a lamb (doubtless fat,) and as a
desert, grapes, figs and nuts. Uniting these to wine, made when
Manlius was consul, and the delicious conversation of the poet, I
fancy I could have supped very pleasantly.
At mihi cum longum post tempus venerat hospes Sive operum vacuo,
longum conviva per imbrem Vicinus, bene erat non piscibus urbe
petitis, Sed pullo atque hasdo, tum [Footnote: Le dessert se
trouve precisement designe et distingue par l'adverbe TUM et par
les mots SECUNDAS MENSAS.] pensilis uva secundas Et nux ornabat
mensas, cum duplice ficu. Thus it was only yesterday I regaled six
friends with a boiled leg of mutton and a kidney A L'PONTOISE.
They indulged in the pleasures of conversation so fully that they
forgot that there were richer meats or better cooks.
On the other hand, let persons make as much research as possible
for good cheer; there is no pleasure at the table if the wine be
bad, and the guests collected without care. Faces will then be
sure to seem sad, and the meal will be eaten without,
But perhaps the impatient reader will ask how, in the year of
grace 1825, can any table be spread which will unite all of these
I will answer this question. Be attentive, readers. Gasterea, the
most attractive of the muses, inspires me. I will be as clear as
an oracle, and my precepts will live for centuries:--
"Let the number of guests never exceed twelve, so that the
conversation may be general.
"Let them he so chosen that their occupations may be varied, their
tastes analogous, and that they may have such points of contact
that introduction may be useless.
"Let the dining-room be furnished with luxury, the table clean,
and the temperature of the room about 16 degrees Reaumur.
"Let the men be intelligent, but not pedantic--and the women
pretty, but not coquettes.
"Let the dishes be of exquisite taste, but few in number at the
first course; let those of the second be as pleasant and as highly
perfumed as possible.
"Let the coffee be hot, and let the master select his own wines.
"Let the reception-room be large enough to permit those who cannot
do without the amusement, to make up a card party, and also for
little COTERIES of conversation.
"Let the guests be retained by the pleasures of society, and by
the hope that the evening will not pass without some ulterior
"The tea should not be too strong, the roast dishes should be
loaded artistically, and the punch made carefully.
"None should begin to retire before eleven o'clock, and at
midnight all should have gone to bed.
"If any one has been present at an entertainment uniting all these
conditions, he may boast of having witnessed his own apotheosis.
He will enjoy it the more, because many other apotheosis have been
forgotten or mistaken."
I have said that the pleasure of the table, as I have described
it, was susceptible of long duration, and I am about to prove it
by the history of the longest meal I ever was present at. It is a
BONBON I give the reader as a reward for patient attention to me.
Here it is:-
I had a family of kinsfolk in the Rue de Bac, constituted as
follows: a doctor, who was seventy-eight; a captain, who was
seventy-six; and their sister, Jeannette, who was sixty-four. I
used to visit them sometimes, and they always received me kindly.
"PARBLEU!" said Doctor Dubois, rising on his toes one day to tap
me on the shoulder; "you have a long time been bragging about your
FONDUES, (eggs and cheese,) and you always make our mouths water.
The captain and I will come to dine with you, and we will see what
your famous dish is." (This took place about 1801.) "Willingly,"
said I, "and to enable you to see it in all its glory, I will cook
it myself. I am delighted with your proposition, and wish you to
come punctually at ten to-morrow."
At the appointed time my guests came, clean shaved, and with their
heads powdered. They were two little old men; yet fresh, however,
and well. They smiled with pleasure when they saw the table ready,
set with three covers, and with two dozen oysters by each plate.
At the two ends of the table were bottles of Sauterne, carefullly
wiped, except the cork, which indicated that it had been long
bottled. Alas! I have gradually seen oysters disappear from
breakfast, though they were once so common. They disappeared with
the ABBES, who never ate less than a gross; and the CHEVALIERS,
who ate quite as many. I regret them but as a philosopher. If time
modifies governments, how great must be its influence over simple
usages. After the oysters, which were very good, grilled kidneys,
a PATE of FOIE GRAS with truffles, and then the FONDUE.
The elements had been put in a chafing-dish, and brought to the
table with spirits of wine. I set at once to work, and my two
cousins watched every motion I made.
They were delighted, and asked for the recipe, which I promised,
telling them two anecdotes, which the reader will perhaps meet
After the FONDUE we had the various fruits which were in season,
and a cup of real mocha, made A LA DU BELLOY, which was then
becoming fashionable. We ended with two kinds of LIQUEURS.
Breakfast being over, I invited my two kinsmen to take a little
exercise, and to accompany me through my lodgings, which are far
from being elegant, and which my friends, in consequence of their
size and splendor, prefer to the gilding and OR MOLU of the reign
of Louis XV.
I showed them the original bust of my pretty cousin, Mme. Recamier
by Chinard, and her miniature by Augustin. They were so much
pleased, that the Doctor kissed the latter with his thick lips,
and the Captain took a liberty with the bust of the first, for
which I reproved him. Were all the admirers of the original to do
as he did, the bust would soon be in the condition of the famous
statue of St. Peter at Borne, which the kisses of pilgrims have
I showed them afterwards, casts of old statuary, some pictures,
which are not without merit, my guns, my musical instruments, and
several fine editions of the French and foreign classics.
They did not forget the kitchen in their voyage of discovery. I
showed them my economical furnace, my turnspit by clock-work, my
roasting apparatus, and my vaporiser. They were much surprised, as
every thing in their house was done in the style of the regency.
Just as we were about to enter the room, the clock struck two.
"Peste!" said the Doctor, "the dinner time and Jeannette awaits
us; we must go, not because I wish to eat, but I must have my bowl
of soup like Titus DIEM PERDIDI." "My dear Doctor," said I, "why
go so far? what is here? Send some to my cousin and remain here,
if you will, and accept my apology for a somewhat hasty dinner and
you will delight me."
There was an ocular consultation on the matter between the two
brothers, and I at once sent a messenger to the Faubourg St.
Germain. I also told my cook what I wished. After a time, in part
with his own resources and from the neighboring restaurants, he
served us up a very comfortable little dinner.
It was a great gratification to me, to see the SANG FROID and
quiet nerve with which my kinsmen sat down, unfolded their napkins
and began. They met with two surprises which I did not anticipate;
I gave them PARMESAN with soup, and a glass of dry Madeira. These
two novelties had just been introduced by M. De Tallyrand, the
first of our diplomatists, to whom we are indebted for so many
shrewd expressive words, and whom public attention has always
followed with marked interest even when he had retired.
Dinner passed very comfortably, and as far as the substantiate and
the accessories were concerned, my friends were as agreeable as
they were merry.
After dinner, I proposed a game of PIQUET, which they refused,
preferring, as the Captain said, IL FAR NIENTE of the Italians,
and we sat around the fireplace.
In spite of the pleasures of the FAR NIENTE, I have often thought
that nothing enlivens conversation more than any occupation which
distracts but does not absorb all coversation.
Tea was a novelty to the French at that time. They however took
it; I made it in their presence, and they took it with greater
pleasure, because, hitherto they had only looked on it as a
Long observation had informed me, that one piece of complaisance
ever brings on another, and that after one step there is no choice
but to continue in the same route.
"You will kill me," said the Doctor. "You will make me drunk,"
said the Captain. I made no reply, but rang for rum, sugar, and
lemons. I made some punch, and while I was preparing some,
excellent well buttered toast was also prepared.
My cousins protested that they could not eat a morsel more; but,
as I was familliar with the attraction of this simple preparation,
I insisted, and the Captain having taken the first slice, I had no
hesitation in ordering more.
Time rolled on, and the clock was on the stroke of eight. "Let us
go," said the worthies, "for we must eat a salad with our sister,
who has not seen us to day."
I did not object, and accompanied the two pleasant old men to
their carriage, and saw them leave.
Perhaps, the question may be asked, if their long visit did not
I answer, no. The attention of my guests was sustained by the
preparation of the FONDUE, by their examination of my rooms, by a
few novelties after dinner, by the tea, and especially by the
punch, which was the best they had ever tasted.
The Doctor, too, knew all the genealogy and history of the people
of Paris. The Captain had passed a portion of his life in Italy,
either as a soldier or as envoy to the Court of Parma. I had
travelled much, and conversation pursued its natural bent. Under
such circumstances time could not but fly rapidly.
On the next day, a letter from the Doctor informed me, that their
little debauch had done them no harm, but that after a quiet
night's rest, they awoke convinced that they could go over the
whole matter again.
HALTES DE CHASSE.
AMID all the circumstances in life, when eating is considered
valuable, one of the most agreeable is, doubtless, when there is a
pause in the chase. It alone may be prolonged the most without
After a few hours exercise, the most eager huntsman feels a
necessity for rest. His face needs caressing by the morning
breeze: he halts, however, not from necessity, but by that
instinctive impulse which tells him that his activity is not
Shade attracts him, the turf receives him, the murmur of the
rivulet advises him to open the flask he has brought to revive
himself I with. [Footnote: For such purposes, I prefer white wine;
it resists heat better than any other.] Thus placed, he takes out
the little well baked loaves, uncovers the cold chicken some kind
hand has placed in his havresack, and finds the piece of gruyere
or roquefort, which is to represent a dessert.
While he makes these preparations, he is accompanied by the
faithful animal God has created for him; co-operation has overcome
distance. They are two friends, and the servant is at once happy
and proud to be the guest of his master.
It is an appetite equally unknown to the worldly and devotees: the
first do not allow hunger time to come: the second never indulge
in exercises which produce it.
The repast being prepared, each has its portion; why not sleep for
a while? Noon is an hour of rest for all creation.
The pleasures are decuples by being shared with friends. In this
case, a more abundant meal is brought in military chests now
employed for both purposes. All speak of the prowess of one, the
messes at the other, and of the anticipations of the evening.
What if one should come provided with one of those vases
consecrated to Bacchus, where artificial cold ices the madrin, the
strawberry, and pine-apple juice, those delicious flavors which
spread through the whole system a luxury unknown to the profane.
We have not, however, reached the last term of progression of
There are times when our wives, sisters, and cousins are invited
to share in these amusements. At the appointed hour, light
carriages, prancing horses, etc., hearing ladies collect. The
toilette of the ladies is half military, and half coquette. The
professor will, if he be observant, catch a glimpse of things not
intended for his eye.
The door of the carriages will soon be opened, and a glimpse will
be had of pates de Perigord, the wonders of Strasburg, the
delicacies of d'Achard, and all that the best laboratories produce
that is transportable.
They have not forgotten foaming champagne, a fit ornament for the
hand of beauty. They sit on the grass--corks fly, all laugh, jest,
and are happy. Appetite, this emenation of heaven, gives to the
meal a vivacity foreign to the drawing-room, however well
decorated it may be.
All, however, must end; the oldest person present gives the
signal; all arise, men take their guns, and the ladies their hats-
-all go, and the ladies disappear until night.
I have hunted in the centre of France, and in the very depths of
the departments. I have seen at the resting places carriage loads
of women of radiant beauty, and others mounted on a modest ass,
such as composes the fortunes of the people of Montmorency. I have
seen them first laugh at the inconveniences of the mode of
transportation, and then spread on the lawn a turkey, with
transparent jelly, and a salad ready prepared. I have seen them
dance around a fire lighted for the occasion, and have
participated in the pleasures of this gypsy sport. I am sure so
much attraction with so little luxury is never met with elsewhere.
Les haltes de la chasse are a yet virgin subject which we have
only touched, we leave the subject to any one who pleases to take
a fancy to it.
We never see what we eat, says an old adage, except what we
How few, however, know what digestion is, though it is a necessity
equalizing rich and poor, the shepherd and the king.
The majority of persons who, like M. Jourdan, talked prose without
knowing it, digest without knowing how; for them I make a popular
history of digestion, being satisfied that M. Jourdan was much
better satisfied when his master told him that he wrote prose. To
he fully acquainted with digestion, one must know hoth its
antecedents and consequents.
Appetite, hunger, and thirst, warn us that the hody needs
restoration; pain, that universal monitor, never ceases to torment
us if we do not obey it.
Then comes eating and drinking which are ingestion, an operation
which begins as soon as the food is in the mouth, and enters the
During its passage, through a space of a few inches much takes
The teeth divide solid food, the glands which line the inside of
the mouth moisten it, the tongue mingles the food, presses it
against the palate so as to force out the juice, and then collects
the elements in the centre of the mouth, after which, resting on
the lower jaw, it lifts up the central portion forming a kind of
inclined plane to the lower portion of the mouth where they are
received by the pharynx, which itself contracting, forces them
into the oesophagus.
One mouthful having thus been treated, a second is managed in the
same way, and deglutition continues until appetite informs us that
it is time to stop. It is rarely, though, that it stops here, for
as it is one of the attributes of man to drink without thirst,
cooks have taught him to eat without hunger.
To ensure every particle of food reaching the stomach, two dangers
must be avoided.
It must not pass into the passage behind the nose, which luckily
is covered by a veil.
The second is that it must not enter the trachea. This is a
serious danger, for any particle passing into the trachea, would
cause a convulsive cough, which would last until it was expelled.
An admirable mechanism, however, closes the glottis while we
swallow, and we have a certain instinct which teaches us not to
breathe during deglutition. In general, therefore, we may say,
that in spite of this strange conformation, food passes easily
into the stomach, where the exercise of the will ceases, and
DUTY OF THE STOMACH.
Digestion is a purely mechanical operation and the digestive
apparatus, may be considered as a winnowing mill, the effect of
which is, to extract all that is nutritious and to get rid of the
The manner in which digestion is effcted has been so long a
question for argument, and persons have sought to ascertain if it
were effected by coction, fermentation, solution, chemical, or
All of these modes have their influence, and the only error was
that many causes were sought to be attributed to one.
In fact food impregnated by all fluids which fill the mouth and
oesophagus, reaches the stomach where it is impregnated by the
gastric juices, which always fill it. It is then subjected for
several hours to a heat of 30 [degrees] Reaumer; it is mingled by
the organic motion of the stomach, which their presence excites.
They act on each other by the effect of this juxtaposition and
fermentation must take place. All that is nourishing ferments.
In consequence of all of these operations, chyle is elaborated and
spread over the food, which then passes the pylorus and enters the
intestines. Portion after portion succeeds until the stomach is
empty, thus evacuating itself as it was filled.
The pylorus is a kind of chamber between the stomach and the
intestines, so constructed that food once in it can ascend only
with great difficulty. This viscera is sometimes obstructed when
the sufferer, after long and intense agony, dies of hunger.
The next intestine beyond the pylorus is the duodenum. It is so
called because it is twelve fingers long.
When chyle reaches the duodenum, it receives a new elaboration by
being mingled with bile and the panchreatic juice. It loses the
grey color and acidity it previously possessed, becomes yellow and
commences to assume a stercoral odor, which increases as it
advances to the rectum. The various substances act reciprocally on
each other; there must, consequently, be many analagous gasses
The impulse which ejected chyle from the stomach, continues and
forces the food towards the lower intestines, there the chyle
separates itself and is absorbed by organs intended for the
purpose, whence it proceeds to the liver, to mingle with the
blood, which it revives, and thus repairs the losses of the vital
organs and of transpiration.
It is difficult to explain how chyle, which is a light and almost
insipid fluid, can be extracted from a mass, the color of which,
and the taste, are so deeply pronounced.
Be that as it may, the preparation of chyle appears to be the true
object of digestion, and as soon as it mingles with the
circulation, the individual becomes aware of a great increase of
The digestion of fluids is less complicated than that of solids,
and can be explained in a few words.
The purely liquid portion is absorbed by the stomach, and thrown
into circulation; thence it is taken to the veins by the arteries
and filtered by urethras, [Footnote: These urethras are conduits
of the size of a pea, which start from the kidneys, and end at the
upper neck of the bladder.] which pass them as urine, to the
When in this last receptacle, and though restrained by the
spinchter muscle, the urine remains there but a brief time; its
exciting nature causes a desire to avoid it, and soon voluntary
constriction emits it through canals, which common consent does
not permit us to name.
Digestion varies in the time it consumes, according to the
temperament of individuals. The mean time, however, is seven
hours, viz., three hours for the stomach, and the rest of the time
for the lower intestines.
From this expose which I have selected from the most reliable
authors, I have separated all anatomical rigidities, and
scientific abstractions. My readers will thence be able to judge
where the last meal they ate is: viz., during the first three
hours in the stomach, later in the intestinal canal, and after
seven hours, awaiting expulsion.
INFLUENCE OF DIGESTION.
Of all corporeal operations, digestion is the one which has the
closest connection with the moral condition of man.
This assertion should amaze no one; things cannot be otherwise.
The principles of physiology tells us that the soul is liable to
impressions only in proportion as the organs subjected to it have
relation to external objects, whence it follows that when these
organs are badly preserved, badly restored, or irritated, this
state of degradation exerts a necessary influence on sensations,
which are the intermediates of mental operations.
Thus the habitual manner in which digestion is performed or
affected, makes us either sad, gay, taciturn, gossiping morose or
melancholy, without our being able to doubt the fact, or to resist
it for a moment.
In this respect, humanity may be arranged under three categories;
the regular, the reserved, and the uncertain.
Each of the persons who belong to each of the series, not only
have similar dispositions, and propensities, but there is
something analagous and similar in the manner in which they
fulfill the mission from which chance during their lives has
To exhibit an example, I will go into the vast field of
literature. I think men of letters frequently owe all their
characteristics to their peculiar mode of life. Comic poets must
be of one kind, tragic poets of another, and elegiac, of the
uncertain class. The most elegiac and the most comic are only
separated by a variety of digestive functions.
By an application of this principle to courage, when Prince Eugene
of Savoy, was doing the greatest injury to France, some one said,
"Ah, why can I not send him a pate de foie gras, three times a
week I would make him the greatest sluggard of Europe."
"Let us hurry our men into action, while a little beef is left in
their bowels," said an English general.
Digestion in the young is very often accompanied by a slight
chill, and in the old, by a great wish to sleep. In the first
case, nature extracts the coloric from the surface to use it in
its laboratory. In the second, the same power debilitated by age
cannot at once satisfy both digestion and the excitement of the
When digestion has just begun, it is dangerous to yield to a
disposition for mental work. One of the greatest causes of
mortality is, that some men after having dined, and perhaps too
well dined, can neither close their eyes nor their ears.
This observation contains a piece of advice, which should even
attract the most careless youth, usually attentive to nothing. It
should also arrest the attention of grown men, who forget nothing,
not even that time never pauses, and which is a penal law to those
on the wrong side of fifty.
Some persons are fretful while digestion is going on. At that
time, nothing should be suggested to and no favors asked of them.
Among these was marshal Augereau, who, during the first hour after
dinner, slaughtered friends and enemies indiscriminately.
I have heard it said, that there were two persons in the army,
whom the general-in-chief always wished to have shot, the
commissary-in-chief and the head of his general staff. They were
both present. Cherin the chief of staff, talked back to him, and
the commissary, though he said nothing, did not think a bit the
At that time, I was attached to his general staff, and always had
a plate at his table. I used, however, to go thither rarely, being
always afraid of his periodical outbreaks, and that he would send
me to dinner to finish my digestion.
I met him afterwards at Paris, and as he testified his regret that
he had not seen me oftener, I did not conceal the reason. We
laughed over the matter and he confessed that I was not wrong.
We were then at Offenbourg, and a complaint was made by the staff
that we ate no game nor fish.
This complaint was well founded, for it is a maxim, of public law,
that the conquerors should always live at the expense of the
conquered. On that very day I wrote a letter to the master of the
forests to point out a remedy.
This official was an old trooper, who doubtless was unwilling to
treat us kindly lest we should take root in this territory. His
answer was negative and evasive. The game keepers, afraid of our
soldiers, had gone, the fishermen were insubordinate, the water
muddy, etc. To all this, I said nothing, but I sent him ten
grenadiers to be lodged and fed until further orders.
The remedy was effective; for early on the next day after, I saw a
heavily loaded wagon come. The game-keepers had come back, the
fishermen were submissive; we had game and fish enough to last for
We had kid, snipe, lark, pike, etc.
When I received the offering, I freed the superintendent from his
troublesome guests, and during the whole time we remained in that
part of the country, we had nothing to complain of.
MAN is not made to enjoy an indefinite activity; nature has
destined him to a variable existence, and his perceptions must end
after a certain time. This time of activity may be prolonged, by
varying the nature of the perceptions to be experienced, and a
continuity of life brings about a desire for repose.
Repose leads to sleep, and sleep produces dreams.
Here we find ourselves on the very verge of humanity, for the man
who sleeps is something more than a mere social being: the law
protects, but does not command him.
Here a very singular fact told me by Dom Duhaget, once prior of
the Chartreuse convent of Pierre Chatel, presents itself.
Dom Duhaget was a member of a very good family in Gascogne, and
had served with some distinction as a captain of infantry. He was
a knight of St Louis. I never knew any one, the conversation of
whom was more pleasant.
"There was," said he, "before I went to Pierre Chatel, a monk of a
very melancholy humor, whose character was very sombre, and who
was looked upon as a somnambulist.
"He used often to leave his cell, and when he went astray, people
were forced to guide him back again. Many attempts had been made
to cure him, but in vain.
"One evening I had not gone to bed at the usual hour, but was in
my office looking over several papers, when I saw this monk enter
in a perfect state of somnambulism.
"His eyes were open but fixed, and he was clad in the tunic in
which he should have gone to bed, but he had a huge knife in his
"He came at once to my bed, the position of which he was familiar
with, and after having felt my hand, struck three blows which
penetrated the mattrass on which I laid.
"As he passed in front of me his brows were knit, and I saw an
expression of extreme gratification pervaded his face.
"The light of two lamps on my desk made no impression, and he
returned as he had come, opening the doors which led to his cell,
and I soon became satisfied that he had quietly gone to bed.
"You may," said the Prior, "fancy my state after this terrible
apparition; I trembled at the danger I had escaped, and gave
thanks to Providence. My emotion, however, was so great that
during the balance of the night I could not sleep.
"On the next day I sent for the somnambulist and asked him what he
had dreamed of during the preceding night.
"When I asked the question he became troubled. 'Father,' said he,
'I had so strange a dream that it really annoys me; I fear almost
to tell you for I am sure the devil has had his hand in it.' 'I
order you to tell me,' said I, 'dreams are involuntary and this
may only be an illusion. Speak sincerely to me.' 'Father,' said
he,' I had scarcely gone to sleep when I dreamed that you had
killed my mother, and when her bloody shadow appeared to demand
vengeance, I hurried into your cell, and as I thought stabbed you.
Not long after I arose, covered with perspiration, and thanked God
that I had not committed the crime I had meditated.' 'It has been
more nearly committed,' said I, with a kind voice, 'than you
"I then told him what had passed, and pointed out to him the blows
he had aimed at me.
"He cast himself at my feet, and all in tears wept over the
involuntary crime he had thought to commit, and besought me to
inflict any penance I might think fit.
"'No,' said I, 'I will not punish you for an involuntary act.
Henceforth, though I excuse you from the service of the night, I
inform you that your cell will be locked on the outside and never
be opened except to permit you to attend to the first mass.'"
If in this instance, from which a miracle only saved him, the
Prior had been killed, the monk would not have suffered, for he
would have committed a homicide not a murder.
TIME OF REST.
The general laws of the globe we inhabit have an influence on the
human race. The alternatives of day and night are felt with
certain varieties over the whole globe, but the result of all this
is the indication of a season of quiet and repose. Probably we
would not have been the same persons had we lived all our lives
without any change of day or night.
Be this as it may, when one has enjoyed for a certain length of
time a plentitude of life a time comes when he can enjoy nothing;
his impressibility gradually decreases, and the effects on each of
his senses are badly arranged. The organs are dull and the soul
It is easy to see that we have had social man under consideration,
surrounded by all the attractions of civilization. The necessity
of this is peculiarly evident to all who are buried either in the
studio, travel, as soldiers, or in any other manner.
In repose our mother nature especially luxuriates. The man who
really reposes, enjoys a happiness which is as general as it is
indefinable; his arms sink by their own weight, his fibres
distend, his brain becomes refreshed, his senses become calm, and
his sensations obtuse. He wishes for nothing, he does not reflect,
a veil of gauze is spread before his eyes, and in a few moments he
will sink to sleep.
THOUGH some men be organized that they may be said not to sleep,
yet the great necessity of the want of sleep is well defined as is
hunger or thirst. The advanced sentinels of the army used often to
sleep though they filled their eyes with snuff.
Sleep is a physical condition, during which man separates himself
from external objects by the inactivity of his senses, and has
only a mechanical life.
Sleep, like night, is preceded and followed by two twilights. The
one leads to inertion, the other to activity.
Let us seek to elucidate these phenomena.
When sleep begins, the organs of the senses fall almost into
inactivity. Taste first disappears, then the sight and smell. The
ear still is on the alert, and touch never slumbers. It ever warns
us of danger to which the body is liable.
Sleep is always preceded by a more or less voluptuous sensation.
The body yields to it with pleasure, being certain of a prompt
restoration. The soul gives up to it with confidence, hoping that
its means of fiction will he retempered.
From the fact of their not appreciating this sensation, savants of
high rank have compared sleep to death, which all living beings
resist as much as possible, and which even animals show a horror
Like all pleasures, sleep becomes a passion. Persons have been
known to sleep away three-quarters of their life. Like all other
passions it then exerts the worst influences, producing idleness,
indolence, sloth and death.
The school of Salernum granted only seven hours to sleep without
distinction to sex or age. This maxim was too severe, for more
time is needed by children, and more should, from complaisance, be
granted to women. Though whenever more than ten hours is passed in
bed there is abuse.
In the early hours of crepuscular sleep, will yet exists. We can
rouse ourselves, and the eye has not yet lost all its power. Non
omnibus dormio, said Mecenes, and in this state more than one
husband has acquired a sad certainty. Some ideas yet originate but
are incoherent. There are doubtful lights, and see indistinct
forms flit around. This condition does not last long, for sleep
soon becomes absolute.
What does the soul do in the interim? It lives in itself, and like
a pilot in a calm, like a mirror at night, a lute that no one
touches, awakes new excitement.
Some psycologists, among others the count of Redern, say that the
soul always acts. The evidence is, that a man aroused from sleep
always preserves a memory of his dreams.
There is something in this observation, which deserves
This state of annihilation, however, is of brief duration, never
exceeding more than five or six hours: losses are gradually
repaired, an obscure sense of existence manifests itself, and the
sleeper passes into the empire of dreams.
Dreams are material impressions on the soul, without the
intervention of external objects.
These phenomena, so common in ordinary times, are yet little
The fault resides with the savants who did not allow us a
sufficiently great number of instances. Time will however remedy
this, and the double nature of man will be better known.
In the present state of science, it must be taken for granted that
there exists a fluid, subtle as it is powerful, which transmits to
the brain the impressions received by the senses. This excitement
is the cause of ideas.
Absolute sleep is the deperdition or inertia of this fluid.
We must believe that the labors of digestion and assimulation do
not cease during sleep, but repair losses so that there is a time
when the individual having already all the necessities of action
is not excited by external objects.
Thus the nervous fluid--movable from its nature, passes to the
brain, through the nervous conduits. It insinuates itself into the
same places, and follows the old road. It produces the same, but
less intense effects.
I could easily ascertain the reason of this. When man is impressed
by an external object, sensation is sudden, precise, and
involuntary. The whole organ is in motion. When on the contrary,
the same impression is received in sleep, the posterior portion of
the nerves only is in motion, and the sensation is in consequence,
less distinct and positive. To make ourselves more easily
understood, we will say that when the man is awake, the whole
system is impressed, while in sleep, only that portion near the
brain is affected.
We know, however, that in voluptuous dreams, nature is almost as
much gratified as by our waking sensations; there is, however,
this difference in the organs, for each sex has all the elements
When the nervous fluid is taken to our brain, it is always
collected in vats, so to say, intended for the use of one of our
senses, and for that reason, a certain series of ideas, preferable
to others, are aroused. Thus we see when the optic nerve is
excited, and hear when those of the ear are moved. Let us here
remark that taste and smell are rarely experienced in dreams. We
dream of flowers, but not of their perfume; we see a magnificently
arranged table, but have no perception of the flavor of the
This is a subject of enquiry worthy of the most distinguished
science. We mean, to ascertain why certain senses are lost in
sleep, while others preserve almost their full activity. No
physiologist has ever taken care of this matter.
Let us remark that the influences we are subject to when we sleep,
are internal. Thus, sensual ideas are nothing after the anguish we
suffer at a dream of the death of a loved child. At such moments
we awake to find ourselves weeping bitterly.
NATURE OF DREAMS.
Whimsical as some of the ideas which visit us in dreams may be, we
will on examination find they are either recollections, or
combinations of memory. I am inclined to say that dreams are the
memory of sensations.
Their strangeness exists only in the oddity of association which
rejects all idea of law and of chronology, of propriety and time.
No one, however, ever dreamed of any thing absolutely unknown to
No one will be amazed at the strangeness of our dreams, when we
remember, that, when awake, our senses are on the alert, and
respectively rectify each other. When a man sleeps, however, every
sensation is left to his own resources.
I am inclined to compare these two conditions of the brain, to a
piano at which some great musician sits, and who as he throws his
fingers over the keys recalls some melody which he might harmonize
if he use all his power. This comparison may be extended yet
further, when we remember that reflection is to ideas, what harmony
is to sounds; that certain ideas contain others, as a principle
sound contains the others which follow it, etc. etc.
SYSTEM OF DR. GALL.
Having followed thus far a subject which is not without interest,
I have come to the confines of the system of Dr. Gall who sustains
the multiformity of the organs of the brain.
I cannot go farther, nor pass the limits I have imposed on myself:
yet from the love of science, to which it may be seen I am no
stranger, I cannot refrain from making known two observations I
made with care, and which are the more important, as many persons
will be able to verify them.
About 1790 there was in a little village called Gevrin, in the
arrondissement of Belley a very shrewd tradesman named Landot, who
had amassed a very pretty fortune.
All at once he was stricken with paralysis. The Doctors came to
his assistance, and preserved his life, not however without loss,
for all of his faculties especially memory was gone. He however
got on well enough, resumed his appetite and was able to attend to
When seen to be in this state, all those with whom he ever had
dealings, thought the time for his revenge was come, and under the
pretext of amusing him, offered all kinds of bargains, exchanges,
etc. They found themselves mistaken, and had to relinquish their
The old man had lost none of his commercial faculties. Though he
forgot his own name and those of his servants, he was always
familiar with the price-current, and knew the exact value of every
acre and vineyard in the vicinity.
In this respect his judgment had be en uninjured, and the
consequence was, that many of the assailants were taken in their
At Belley, there was a M. Chirol, who had served for a long time
in the gardes du corps of Louis XV. and XVI.
He had just sense enough for his profession, but he was
passionately fond of all kinds of games, playing l'hombre, piquet,
whist, and any new game that from time to time might be
M. Chirol also became apoplectic and fell into a state of almost
absolute insensibility. Two things however were spared, his
faculty for digestion, and his passion for play.
He used to go every day to a house he had been used to frequent,
sat in a corner and seemed to pay no attention to any thing that
passed around him.
When the time came to arrange the card parties, they used to
invite him to take a hand. Then it became evident that the malady
which had prostrated the majority of his faculties, had not
affected his play. Not long before he died, M. Chirol gave a
striking proof that this faculty was uninjured.
There came to Belley, a banker from Paris, the name of whom I
think was Delins. He had letters of introduction, he was a
Parisian, and that was enough in a small city to induce all to
seek to make his time pass agreeably as possible.
Delins was a gourmand, and was fond of play. In one point of view
he was easily satisfied, for they used to keep him, every day,
five or six hours at the table. It was difficult, however, to
amuse his second faculty. He was fond of piquet and used to talk
of six francs a fiche, far heavier play than we indulged in.
To overcome this obstacle, a company was formed in which each one
risked something. Some said that the people of Paris knew more
than we; and others that all Parisians were inclined to boasting.
The company was however formed, and the game was assigned to M.
When the Parisian banker saw the long pale face, and limping form
opposed to him, he fancied at first, that he was the butt of joke:
when, however, he saw the artistic manner with which the spectre
handled the cards, he began to think he had an adversary worthy of
him, for once.
He was not slow in being convinced that the faculty yet existed,
for not only in that, but in many other games was Delins so beaten
that he had to pay more than six hundred francs to the company,
which was carefully divided.
The consequences of these two observations are easily deduced. It
seems clear that in each case, the blow which deranged the brain,
had spared for a long time, that portion of the organ employed in
commerce and in gaming. It had resisted it beyond doubt, because
exercise had given it great power, and because deeply worked
impressions hatf exerted great influence on it.
Age has great influence on the nature of dreams.
In infancy we dream of games, gardens, flowers, and other smiling
objects; at a later date, we dream of pleasure, love, battles, and
marriages; later still we dream of princely favors, of business,
trouble and long departed pleasures.
PHENOMENA OF DREAMS.
Certain strange phenomena accompany sleep and dreams. Their study
may perhaps account for anthropomania, and for this reason I
record here, three observations, selected from a great many made
by myself during the silence of night.
I dreamed one night, that I had discovered a means to get rid of
the laws of gravitation, so that it became as easy to ascend as
descend, and that I could do either as I pleased.
This estate seemed delicious to me; perhaps many persons may have
had similar dreams. One curious thing however, occurs to me, which
I remember, I explained very distinctly to myself the means which
led me to such a result, and they seemed so simple, that I was
surprised I had not discovered it sooner.
As I awoke, the whole explanation escaped my mind, but the
conclusion remained; since then, I will ever be persuaded of the
truth of this observation.
A few months ago while asleep I experienced a sensation of great
gratification. It consisted in a kind of delicious tremor of all
the organs of which my body was composed, a violet flame played
over my brow.
Lambere flamma comas, et circum temporo pasci.
I think this physical state did not last more than twenty seconds,
and I awoke with a sensation of something of terror mingled with
This sensation I can yet remember very distinctly, and from
various observations have deduced the conclusion that the limits
of pleasure are not, as yet, either known or defined, and that we
do not know how far the body may be beatified. I trust that in the
course of a few centuries, physiology will explain these
sensations and recall them at will, as sleep is produced by opium,
and that posterity will be rewarded by them for the atrocious
agony they often suffer from when sleeping.
The proposition I have announced, to a degree is sustained by
analogy, for I have already remarked that the power of harmony
which procures us such acute enjoyments, was totally unknown to
the Romans. This discovery is only about five hundred years old.
In the year VIII (1800,) I went to bed as usual and woke up about
one, as I was in the habit of doing. I found myself in a strange
state of cerebral excitement, my preception was keen, my thoughts
profound; the sphere of my intelligence seemed increased, I sat up
and my eyes were affected with a pale, vaporous, uncertain light,
which, however, did, not enable me to distinguish objects
Did I only consult the crowd of ideas which succeeded so rapidly,
I might have fancied that this state lasted many hours; I am
satisfied, however, that it did not last more than half an hour,
an external accident, unconnected with volition, however, aroused
me from it, and I was recalled to the things of earth.
When the luminous apparition disappeared, I became aware of a
sense of dryness, and, in fact, regained my waking faculties. As I
was now wide awake, my memory retained a portion of the ideas
(indistinctly) which crossed my mind.
The first ideas had time as their subject. It seemed to me that
the past, present and future, became identical, were narrowed down
to a point, so that it was as easy to look forward into the
future, as back into the past. This is all I remember of this
first intuition, which was almost effaced by subsequent ones.
Attention was then directed to the senses, which I followed in the
order of their perfection, and fancying that those should be
examined which were internal as well as external, I began to
follow them out.
I found three, and almost four, when I fell again to earth.
1. Compassion is a sensation we feel about the heart when we see
2. Predilection is a feeling which attracts us not only to an
object, but to all connected with it.
3. Sympathy is the feeling which attracts two beings together.
From the first aspect, one might believe that these two sentiments
are one, and the same. They cannot, however, be confounded; for
predilection is not always reciprocal, while sympathy, must be.
While thinking of compassion, I was led to a deduction I think
very just, and which at another time I would have overlooked. It
is the theory on which all legislation is founded.
DO AS YOU WILL BE DONE BY.
Alteri ne facias, quod tibi fieri non vis.
Such is an idea of the state in which I was, and to enjoy it
again, I would willingly relinquish a month of my life.
In bed we sleep comfortably, in a horizontal position and with the
head warm: Thoughts and ideas come quickly and abundantly;
expressions follow, and as to write one has to get up, we take off
the night cap and go to the desk.
Things all at once seem to change. The examination becomes cold,
the thread of our ideas is broken; we are forced to look with
trouble, for what was found so easily, and we are often forced to
postpone study to another day.
All this is easily explained by the effect produced on the brain
by a change of position. The influence of the physic and moral is
Following out this observation, I have perhaps gone rather far,
but I have been induced to think that the excitability of oriental
nations, was, in a manner, due to the fact, that, in obedience to
the religion of Mahomet, they used to keep the head warm, for a
reason exactly contrary to that which induced all monastic
legislators to enjoin shaven crowns.
INFLUENCE OF DIET ON REST, SLEEP AND DREAMS.
WHETHER man sleeps, eats, or dreams, he is yet subject to the laws
of nutrition and to gastronomy.
Theory and experience, both admit that the quantity and quality of
food have a great influence on our repose, rest, and dreams.
EFFECTS OF DIET ON LABOR.
A man who is badly fed, cannot bear for a long time, the fatigues
of prolonged labor; his strength even abandons him, and to him
rest is only loss of power.
If his labor be mental, his ideas are crude and undecided.
Reflection contributes nothing to them, nor does judgment analyze
them. The brain exhausts itself in vain efforts and the actor
slumbers on the battlefield.
I always thought that the suppers of Auteuil and those of the
hotels of Rambouillet and Soissons, formed many of the authors of
the reign of Louis XIV. Geoffrey was not far wrong when he
characterised the authors of the latter part of the eighteenth
century as eau sucree. That was their habitual beverage.
According to these principles, I have examined the works of
certain well known authors said to have been poor and suffering,
and I never found any energy in, them, except when they were
stimulated by badly conceived envy.
On the eve of his departure for Boulogne, the Emperor Napoleon
fasted for thirty hours, both with his council and with the
various depositories of his power, without any refreshment other
than two very brief meals, and a few cups of coffee.
Brown, mentions an admiralty clerk, who, having lost his
memorandum, without which he could not carry on his duty, passed
fifty-two consecutive hours in preparing them again. Without due
regimen, he never could have borne the fatigue and sustained
himself as follows:--At first, he drank water, then wine, and
ultimately took opium.
I met one day a courier, whom I had known in the army, on his way
from Spain, whither he had been sent with a government dispatch.
(Correo ganando horas.)
He made the trip in twelve days, having halted only four hours in
Madrid, to drink a few glasses of wine, and to take some soup.
This was all the nourishment he took during this long series of
sleepless nights and fatigues. He said that more solid sustenance
would have made it impossible for him to continue his journey.
Diet has no trifling influence on sleep and dreams.
A hungry man cannot sleep, for the pain he suffers keeps him
awake. If weakness or exhaustion overcome him, his slumber is
light, uneasy and broken.
A person, however, who has eaten too much, sinks at once to sleep.
If he dreams, he remembers nothing of it, for the nervous fluid
has been intercepted in the passages. He awakes quickly, and when
awake is very sensible of the pains of digestion.
We may then lay down, as a general rule, that coffee rejects
sleep. Custom weakens and even causes this inconvenience entirely
to disappear. Europeans, whenever they yield to it, always feel
its power. Some food, however, gently invites sleep; such as that
which contains milk, the whole family of letuces, etc., etc.
Experience relying on a multitude of observations, has informed us
that diet has an influence on dreams.
In general, all stimullkt food excites dreams, such as flock game,
ducks, venison and hare.
This quality is recognised in asparagus, celery, truffles,
perfume, confectioneries and vanilla.
It would be a great mistake to think that we should banish from
our tables all somniferous articles. The dreams they produce are
in general agreeable, light, and prolong our existence even when
it is suspended.
There are persons to whom sleep is a life apart, and whose dreams
are serial, so that they end in one night a dream begun on the
night before. While asleep they distinguish faces they remember to
have seen, but which they never met with in the real world.
A person who reflects on his physical life and who does so
according to the principles we develop, is the one who prepares
sagaciously for rest, sleep and dreams.
He distributes his labor so that he never over-tasks himself, he
lightens it and refreshes himself by brief intervals of rest,
which relieve him, without interrupting its continuity, sometimes
If longer rest is required during the day, he indulges in it only
in a sitting attitude; he refuses sleep unless he be forced
irresistibly to use it, and is careful not to make it habitual.
When night brings about the hour of repose, he retires to an airy
room, does not wrap himself up in curtains, which make him breathe
the same air again and again, and never closes the blinds so that
when he wakes he will meet with at least one ray of light.
He rests in a bed with the head slightly higher than the feet. His
pillow is of hair; his night cap of cloth and his breast
unincumbered by a mass of coverings; he is careful, however, to
keep his feet warm.
He eats with discretion, and never refuses good and excellent
cheer. He drinks prudently, even the best wine. At dessert he
talks of gallantry more than of politics, makes more madrigals
than epigrams. He takes his coffee, if it suits his constitution,
and afterwards swallows a spoonful of liquor, though it he only to
perfume his breath. He is, in all respects, a good guest, and yet
never exceeds the limits of discretion.
In this state, satisfied with himself and others, he lies down and
sinks to sleep. Mysterious dreams then give an agreeable life; he
sees those he loves, indulges in his favorite occupations, and
visits places which please him.
Then he feels his slumber gradually pass away, and does not regret
the time he has lost, because even in his sleep, he has enjoyed
unmixed pleasure and an activity without a particle of fatigue.
Were I a physician with a diploma, I would have written a whole
book on obesity; thus I would have acquired a domicil in the
domain of science, and would have had the double satisfaction of
having, as patients, persons who were perfectly well, and of being
besieged by the fairer portion of humanity. To have exactly fat
enough, not a bit too much, or too little, is the great study of
women of every rank and grade.
What I have not done, some other person will do, and if he be
learned and prudent, (and at the same time a good-fellow,) I
foretell that he will have wonderful success.
Exoriare aliquis nostris ex ossibus hoeres!
In the intereim, I intend to prepare the way for him. A chapter on
obesity is a necessary concomitant of a book which relates so
exclusively to eating.
Obesity is that state of greasy congestion in which without the
sufferer being sick, the limbs gradually increase in volume, and
lose their form and harmony.
One kind of obesity is restricted to the stomach, and I have never
observed it in women. Their fibres are generally softer, and when
attacked with obesity nothing is spared. I call this variety of
obesity GASTROPHORIA. Those attacked by it, I call GASTROPHOROUS.
I belong to this category, yet, though my stomach is rather
prominent, I have a round and well turned leg. My sinews are like
those of an Arab horse.
I always, however, looked on my stomach as a formidable enemy: I
gradually subdued it, but after a long contest. I am indebted for
all this to a strife of thirty years.
I will begin my treatise by an extract from a collection of more
than five hundred dialogues, which at various times I have had
with persons menaced with obesity.
AN OBESE.--What delicious bread! where do you get it?
I.--From Limet, in the Rue Richelieu, baker to their Royal
Highness, the Due d'Orleans, and the Prince de Conde. I took it
from him because he was my neighbour, and have kept to him because
he is the best bread maker in the world.
OBESE.--I will remember the address. I eat a great deal of bread,
and with such as this could do without any dinner.
OBESE No. 2.--What are you about? You are eating your soup, but
set aside the Carolina rice it contains! I.--Ah: that it is a
regimen I subject myself to.
OBESE.--It is a bad regimen. I am fond of rice pates and all such
things. Nothing is more nourishing.
AN IMMENSE OBESE.--Do me the favor to pass me the potatoes before
you. They go so fast that I fear I shall not be in time.
I.--There they are, sir.
OBESE.--But you will take some? There are enough for two, and
after us the deluge.
I.--Not I. I look on the potatoe as a great preservative against
famine; nothing, however, seems to me so pre-eminently fade.
OBESE.--That is a gastronomical heresy. Nothing is better than the
potatoe; I eat them in every way.
AN OBESE LADY.--Be pleased to send me the Soissons haricots I see
at the other end of the table.
I.--(Having obeyed the order, hummed in a low tone, the well known
"Les Soissonnais sont heureux, Les haricots font chez eux."
OBESE.--Do not laugh: it is a real treasure for this country.
Paris gains immensely by it. I will thank you to pass me the
English peas. When young they are food fit for the gods.
I?--Anathema on beans and peas.
OBESE.--Bah, for your anathema; you talk as if you were a whole
council. I.--(To another.) I congratulate you on your good health,
it seems to me that you have fattened somewhat, since I last saw
OBESE.--I probably owe it to a change of diet.
OBESE.--For some time I eat a rich soup for breakfast, and so
thick that the spoon would stand up in it.
I.--(To another.) Madame, if I do not mistake, you will accept a
portion of this charlotte? I will attack it.
OBESE.--No, sir. I have two things which I prefer. This gateau of
rice and that Savoy biscuit--I am very fond of sweet things.
I.--While they talk politics, madame, at the other end of the
table, will you take a piece of this tourte a la frangipane?
OBESE.--Yes; I like nothing better than pastry. We have a pastry-
cook in our house as a lodger, and I think my daughter and I eat
up all his rent.
I.--(Looking at the daughter.) You both are benefitted by the
diet. Your daughter is a fine looking young woman.
OBESE LADY.--Yes; but there are persons who say she is too fat.
I.--Ah! those who do so are envious, etc., etc. By this and
similar conversations I elucidate a theory I have formed about the
human race, viz: Greasy corpulence always has, as its first cause,
a diet with too much farinacious or feculent substance. I am sure
the same regime will always have the same effect. Carniverous
animals never become fat. One has only to look at the wolf,
jackal, lion, eagle, etc.
Herbiverous animals do not either become fat until age has made
repose a necessity. They, however, fatten quickly when fed on
potatoes, farinacious grain, etc.
Obesity is rarely met with among savage nations, or in that class
of persons who eat to live, instead of living to eat.
CAUSES OF OBESITY.
From the preceding observation, the causes of which any one may
verify, it is easy to ascertain the principle causes of obesity.
The first is the nature of the individual. Almost all men are born
with predispositions, the impress of which is borne by their
faces. Of every hundred persons who die of diseases of the chest,
ninety have dark hair, long faces and sharp noses. Of every
hundred obese persons, ninety have short faces, blue eyes, and pug
Then there are beyond doubt persons predestined to obesity, the
digestive powers of whom elaborate a great quantity of grease.
This physical fact, of the truth of which I am fully satisfied,
exerts a most important influence on our manner of looking at
When we meet in society, a short, fat, rosy, short-nosed
individual, with round limbs, short feet, etc., all pronounce her
charming. Better informed than others, however, I anticipate the
ravages which ten years will have effected on her, and sigh over
evils which as yet do not exist. This anticipated compassion is a
painful sentiment, and proves that a prescience of the future
would only make man more unhappy.
The second of the causes of obesity, is the fact that farinacious
and feculaferous matter is the basis of our daily food. We have
already said that all animals that live on farinaceous substances
become fat; man obeys the common law.
The fecula is more prompt in its action when it is mingled with
sugar. Sugar and grease are alike in containing large quantities
of hydrogen, and are both inflammable. This combination is the
more powerful, from the fact that it flatters the taste, and that
we never eat sweet things until the appetite is already satisfied,
so that we are forced to court the luxury of eating by every
refinement of temptation.
The fecula is not less fattening when in solution, as in beer, and
other drinks of the same kind. The nations who indulge the most in
them, are those who have the most huge stomachs. Some Parisian
families who in 1817 drank beer habitually, because of the
dearness of wine, were rewarded by a degree of embonpoint, they
would be glad to get rid of.
Another cause of obesity is found in the prolongation of sleep,
and want of exercise. The human body repairs itself much during
sleep, and at the same time loses nothing, because muscular action
is entirely suspended. The acquired superfluity must then be
evaporated by exercise.
Another consequence is, that persons who sleep soundly, always
refuse every thing that looks the least like fatigue. The excess
of assimilation is then borne away by the torrent of circulation.
It takes possession, by a process, the secret of which nature has
reserved to herself, of some hundredths of hydrogen, and fat is
formed to be deposited in the tubes of the cellular tissue.
The last cause of obesity is excess of eating and drinking.
There was justice in the assertion, that one of the privileges of
the human race is to eat without hunger, and drink without thirst.
Animals cannot have it, for it arises from reflection on the
pleasures of the table, and a desire to prolong its duration.
This double passion has been found wherever man exists. We know
savages eat to the very acme of brutality, whenever they have an
Cosmopolites, as citizens of two hemispheres, we fancy ourselves
at the very apogee of civilization, yet we are sure we eat too
This is not the case with the few, who from avarice or want of
power, live alone. The first are delighted at the idea that they
amass money, and others distressed that they do not. It is the
case, however, with those around us, for all, whether hosts or
guests, offer and accept with complaisance.
This cause, almost always present, acts differently, according to
the constitution of individuals; and in those who have badly
organized stomachs, produces indigestion, but not obesity.
This one instance, which all Paris will remember.
M. Lang had one of the most splendid establishments of the
capital; his table especially, was excellent, but his digestion
was bad as his gourmandise was great. He did the honors with
perfect taste, and ate with a resolution worthy of a better fate.
All used to go on very well, till coffee was introduced, but the
stomach soon refused the labor to which it had been subjected, and
the unfortunate gastronomer was forced to throw himself on the
sofa and remain in agony until the next day, in expiation of the
brief pleasure he had enjoyed.
It is very strange that he never corrected this fault: as long as
he lived, he was subjected to this alternative, yet the sufferings
of the evening never had any influence on the next days' meal.
Persons with active digestion, fare as was described in the
preceding article. All is digested, and what is not needed for
nutrition is fixed and turned into fat.
Others have a perpetual indigestion, and food is passed without
having left any nourishment. Those who do not understand the
matter, are amazed that so many good things do not produce a
It may be seen that I do not go very minutely into the matter, for
from our habits many secondary causes arise, due to our habits,
condition, inclinations, pleasures, etc.
I leave all this to the successor I pointed out in the
commencement of this work, and satisfy myself merely with the
prelibation, the right of the first comer to every sacrifice.
Intemperance has long attracted the attention of observers.
Princes have made sumptuary laws, religion has moralized for
gourmandise, but, alas, a mouthfull less was never eaten, and the
best of eating every day becomes more flourishing.
I would perhaps be fortunate in the adoption of a new course, and
in the exposition of the physical causes of obesity. Self-
preservation would perhaps be more powerful than morals, or
persuasive than reason, have more influence than laws, and I think
the fair sex would open their eyes to the light.
INCONVENIENCE OF OBESITY.
Obesity has a lamentable influence on the two sexes, inasmuch as
it is most injurious to strength and beauty.
It lessens strength because it increases the weight to be moved,
while the motive power is unchanged. It injures respiration, and
makes all labor requiring prolonged muscular power impossible.
Obesity destroys beauty by annihilating the harmony of primitive
proportions, for all the limbs do not proportionately fatten.
It destroys beauty by filling up cavities nature's hand itself
Nothing is so common as to see faces, once very interesting, made
common-place by obesity.
The head of the last government did not escape this law. Towards
the latter portion of his life, he (Napoleon) became bloated, and
his eyes lost a great portion of their expression.
Obesity produces a distaste for dancing, walking, riding, and an
inaptitude for those amusements which require skill or agility.
It also creates a disposition to certain diseases, such as
apoplexy, dropsy, ulcers in the legs, and makes all diseases
difficult to cure.
EXAMPLES OF OBESITY.
I can remember no corpulent heroes except Marius and John
Marius was short, and was about as broad as he was long. That
probably frightened the Cimber who was about to kill him.
The obesity of the King of Poland had nearly been fatal to him,
for having stumbled on a squadron of Turkish cavalry, from which
he had to fly, he would certainly have been massacred, if his aids
had not sustained him, almost fainting from fatigue on his horse,
while others generously sacrificed themselves to protect him.
If I am not mistaken, the Duc de Vendome, a worthy son of Henry
IV., was also very corpulent. He died at an inn, deserted by all,
and preserved consciousness just long enough to see a servant
snatch away a pillow on which his head was resting.
There are many instances of remarkable obesity. I will only speak,
however, of my own observations.
M. Rameau, a fellow student of mine and maire of Chaleur, was
about five feet two inches high, but weighed five hundred pounds.
The Duc de Luynes, beside whom I often sat, became enormous. Fat
had effaced his handsome features, and he slept away the best
portion of his life.
The most remarkable case, though, I saw in New York, and many
persons now in Paris will remember to have seen at the door of a
cafe in Broadway, a person seated in an immense arm-chair, with
legs stout enough to have sustained a church. [Footnote: Many
persons in New York remember the person referred to. The
translator has heard, that as late as 1815, he was frequently to
be seen at the door of a house near where the Atheneum Hotel was.
Brillat Savarin is said scarcely to exaggerate.]
Edward was at least five feet ten inches, and was about eight feet
(French) in circumference. His fingers were like those of the
Roman Emperor, who used to wear his wife's bracelets as rings. His
arms and legs were nearly as thick as the waist of a man of medium
size, and his feet were elephantine, covered by fat pendant from
his legs. The fat on his cheek had weighed down his lower eye-lid,
and three hanging chins made his face horrible to behold.
He passed his life near a window, which looked out on the street
and drank from time to time a glass of ale from a huge pitcher he
kept by his side.
His strange appearance used to attract the attention of passers,
whom he used always to put to flight by saying in a sepulchral
tone "What are you staring at like wild cats? Go about your
business, you blackguards," etc.
Having spoken to him one day, he told me that he was not at all
annoyed and that if death did not interrupt him, he would be glad
to live till the day of judgment.
From the preceding, it appears that if obesity be not a disease,
it is at least a very troublesome predisposition, into which we
fall from our own fault.
The result is, that we should all seek to preserve ourselves from
it before we are attacked, and to cure ourselves when it befalls
us. For the sake of the unfortunate we will examine what resources
science presents us.
PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT AND CURE OF OBESITY. [Footnote: About
twenty years ago I began a treatise, ex professo, on obesity. My
readers must especially regret the preface which was of dramatic
form. I averred to a physician that a fever is less dangerous than
a law suit; for the latter, after having made a man run, fatigue,
and worry himself, strips him of pleasure, money, and life. This
is a statement which might be propagated as well as any other. ]
I WILL begin by a fact which proves that courage is needed not
only to prevent but to cure obesity.
M. Louis Greffulhe, whom his majesty afterwards honored with the
title of count, came one morning to see me, saying that he had
understood that I had paid great attention to obesity, and asked
me for advice.
"Monsieur," said I, "not being a doctor with a diploma, I might
refuse you, but I will not, provided you give me your word of
honor that for one month you will rigorously obey my directions."
M. Greffulhe made the promise I required and gave me his hand. On
the next day, I gave him my directions, the first article of which
demanded that he should at once get himself weighed, so that the
result might be made mathematically.
After a month he came to see me again, and spoke to me nearly
"Monsieur," said he, "I followed your prescription as if my life
depended on it, and during the month I am satisfied that I have
lost three pounds and more; but have for that purpose to violate
all my tastes and, habits so completely, that while I thank you
for your advice I must decline to follow it, and await quietly the
fate God ordains for me."
I heard this resolution with pain. M. Greffulhe became every day
fatter and subject to all the inconveniences of extreme obesity,
and died of suffocation when he was about forty.
The cure of obesity should begin with three precepts of absolute
theory, discretion in eating, moderation in sleep, and exercise on
foot or horseback.
These are the first resources presented to us by science. I,
however, have little faith in them, for I know men and things
enough to be aware that any prescription, not literally followed,
has but a light effect.
Now, imprimus, it needs much courage to be able to leave the table
hungry. As long as the want of food is felt, one mouthful makes
the succeeding one more palatable, and in general as long as we
are hungry, we eat in spite of doctors, though in that respect we
follow their example.
In the second place to ask obese persons to rise early is to stab
them to the heart. They will tell you that their health will not
suffer them, that when they rise early they are good for nothing
all day. Women will plead exhaustion, will consent to sit up late,
and wish to fatten on the morning's nap. They lose thus this
In the third place, riding as an exercise is expensive, and does
not suit every rank and fortune.
Propose this to a female patient and she will consent with joy,
provided she have a gentle but active horse, a riding dress in the
height of the fashion, and in the third place a squire who is
young, good-tempered and handsome. It is difficult to fill these
three requisites, and riding is thus given up.
Exercise on foot is liable to many other objections. It is
fatiguing, produces perspiration and pleurisy. Dust soils the
shoes and stockings, and it is given up. If, too, the patient have
the least headache, if a single shot, though no larger than the
head of a pin, pierce the skin it is all charged to the exercise.
The consequence is that all who wish to diminish embonpoint should
eat moderately, sleep little, and take as much exercise as
possible, seeking to accomplish the purpose in another manner.
This method, based on the soundest principles of physics and
chemistry, consists in a diet suited to the effects sought for.
Of all medical powers, diet is the most important, for it is
constant by night and day, whether waking or sleeping. Its effect
is renewed at every meal, and gradually exerts its influence on
every portion of the individual. The antiobesic regimen is
therefore indicated by the most common causes of the diseases, and
by the fact that it has been shown that farina or fecula form fat
in both men and animals. In the latter, the case is evident every
day, and from it we may deduce the conclusion that obtaining from
farinaceous food will be beneficial.
But my readers of both sexes will exclaim, "Oh my God, how cruel
the professor is. He has at once prescribed all we like, the white
rolls of Limet, the biscuit of Achard. the cakes of ... and all
the good things made with sugar, eggs, and farina. He will spare
neither potatoes nor macaroni. Who would have expected it from a
man fond of everything good?"
"What is that?" said I, putting on my stern look which I call up
but once a year. "Well, eat and grow fat, become ugly, asthmatic
and die of melted fat. I will make a note of your case and you
shall figure in my second edition. Ah! I see, one phrase has
overcome you, and you beg me to suspend the thunderbolt. Be easy,
I will prescribe your diet and prove how much pleasure is in the
grasp of one who lives to eat."
"You like bread? well, eat barley-bread. The admirable Cadet de
Vaux long ago extolled its virtues. It is not so nourishing and
not so agreeable. The precept will then be more easily complied
with. To be sure one should resist temptation. Remember this,
which is a principle of sound morality.
"You like soup? Eat julienne then, with green vegetables, with
cabbage and roots. I prohibit soup au pain, pates and purees.
"Eat what you please at the first course except rice aux volailles
and the crust of pates. Eat well, but circumspectly.
"The second course will call for all your philosophy. Avoid
everything farinacious, under whatever form it appears. You have
yet the roasts, salads, and herbacious vegetables.
"Now for the dessert. This is a new danger, but if you have acted
prudently so far, you may survive it. Avoid the head of the table,
where things that are dangerous to you are most apt to appear. Do
not look at either biscuits or macaronies; you have fruits of all
kinds, confitures and much else that you may safely indulge in,
according to my principles.
"After dinner I prescribe coffee, permit you liqueurs, and advise
you to take tea and punch.
"At breakfast barly-bread is a necessity, and take chocolate
rather than coffee. I, however, permit strong cafe au lait. One
cannot breakfast too soon. When we breakfast late, dinner time
comes before your digestion is complete. You eat though, and
eating without appetite is often a great cause of obesity, when we
do so too often."
SEQUEL OF THE REGIMEN.
So far I have, like a tender father, marked out a regimen which
will prevent obesity. Let us add a few remarks about its cure.
Drink every summer thirty bottles of Seltzer water, a large glass
in the morning, two before breakfast and another at bed-time.
Drink light white acid wines like those of Anjon. Avoid beer as
you would the plague. Eat radishes, artichokes, asparagus, etc.
Eat lamb and chicken in preference to other animal food; eat only
the crust of bread, and employ a doctor who follows my principles,
and as soon as you begin you will find yourself fresher, prettier,
and better in every respect.
Having thus placed you ashore, I must point out the shoals, lest
in excess or zeal, you overleap the mark.
The shoal I wish to point out is the habitual use made by some
stupid people of acids, the bad effects of which experience has
DANGERS OF ACIDS.
There is a current opinion among women, which every year causes
the death of many young women, that acids, especially vinegar, are
preventives of obesity. Beyond all doubts, acids have the effect
of destroying obesity, but they also destroy health and freshness.
Lemonade is of all acids the most harmless, but few stomachs can
resist it long.
The truth I wish to announce cannot be too public, and almost all
of my readers can bring forward some fact to sustain it.
I knew in 1776, at Dijon, a young lady of great beauty, to whom I
was attached by bonds of friendship, great almost as those of
love. One day when she had for some time gradually grown pale and
thin (previously she had a delicious embonpoint) she told me in
confidence that as her young friends had ridiculed her for being
too fat, she had, to counteract the tendency, been in the habit
every day of drinking a large glass of vinaigre.
I shuddered at the confession, and made every attempt to avoid the
danger. I informed her mother of the state of things the next day,
and as she adored her daughter, she was as much alarmed as I was.
The doctors were sent for, but in vain, for before the cause of
her malady was suspected, it was incurable and hopeless.
Thus, in consequence of having followed imprudent advice, our
amiable Louise was led to the terrible condition of marasmus, and
sank when scarcely eighteen years old, to sleep forever.
She died casting longing looks towards a future, which to her
would have no existence, and the idea that she had involuntarily
attempted her own life, made her existence more prompt and
I have never seen any one else die; she breathed her last in my
arms, as I lifted her up to enable her to see the day. Eight days
after her death, her broken hearted mother wished me to visit with
her the remains of her daughter, and we saw an extatic appearance
which had not hitherto been visible. I was amazed, but extracted
some consolation from the fact. This however is not strange, for
Lavater tells of many such in his history of physiogomy.
All antiobesic tendencies should be accompanied by a precaution I
had forgotten. It consists in wearing night and day, a girdle to
repress the stomach, by moderately clasping it.
To cause the necessity of it to be perceived, we must remember
that the vertebral column, forming one of the walls in the cavity
containing the intestines, is firm and inflexible. Whence it
follows, that the excess of weight which intestines acquire as
soon as obesity causes them to deviate from the vertical line,
rests on the envelopes which compose the skin of the stomach. The
latter being susceptible of almost infinite distention, would be
unable to replace themselves, when this effort diminishes, if they
did not have a mechanical art, which, resting on the dorsal
column, becomes an antagonist, and restores equilibrium. This belt
has therefore the effect of preventing the intestines from
yielding to their actual weight, and gives a power to contract
when pressure is diminished. It should never be laid aside, or the
benefit it exerts in the day will be destroyed in the night. It is
not, however, in the least troublesome, and one soon becomes used
The belt also shows when we have eaten enough; and it should be
made with great care, and so contrived as to diminish as the
One is not forced to wear it all life long, and it may be laid
aside when the inconvenience is sufficiently reduced. A suitable
diet however, should be maintained. I have not worn it for six
One substance I think decidedly antiobesic. Many observations have
induced me to think so, yet I leave the matter in doubt, and
submit it to physicians.
This is quinquina.
Ten or twelve persons that I know, have had long intermittent
fevers; some were cured by old women's remedies, powders, etc.
Others by the continued use of quinquina, which is always
All those persons of the same category, gradually regained their
obesity. Those of the second, lost their embonpoint, a
circumstance which leaves me to think the quinquina which produced
the last result had the effect I speak of.
Rational theory is not opposed to this deduction, for quinquina,
exciting all the vital powers, may give the circulation an impetus
which troubles all, and dissipates, the gas destined to become
fat. It is also shown that quinquina contains a portion of tannin
which is powerful enough to close the cells which contain grease.
It is possible that these two effects sustain each other.
These two ideas, the truth of which any one may understand, induce
me to recommend quinquina to all those who wish to get rid of
troublesome embonpoint. Thus dummodo annuerit in omni medicationis
genere doctissimi Facultatis professores. I think that after the
first month of any regimen, the person who wishes to get rid of
fat, should take every day before breakfast, a glass of white
wine, in which was placed a spoonful of coffee and red quinquina.
Such are the means I suggest to overcome a very troublesome
affection. I have accommodated them to human weakness and to our
In this respect the experimental truth is relied on, which teaches
that in proportion as a regime is vigorous, it is dangerous, for
he who does not follow it literally, does not follow it all.
Great efforts are rare, and if one wishes to be followed, men must
be offered things vacile, if not agreeable.
THINNESS is the state of that individual, the muscular frame of
whom is not filled up by strength, and who exhibits all angles of
the long scaffolding.
There are two kinds of thinness; the first is the result of the
primitive disposition of the body, and is accompanied by health,
and a full use of the organic functions of the body. The second is
caused by the fact that some of the organs are more defective than
others, and give the individual an unhappy and miserable
appearance. I once knew young woman of moderate stature who only
weighed sixty-five pounds.
EFFECTS OF THINNESS.
Thinness is a matter of no great trouble to men. They have no less
strength, and are far more active. The father of the young woman I
spoke of, though, very thin, could seize a chair by his teeth and
throw it over his head.
It is, however, a terrible misfortune to women, to whom beauty is
more important than life, and the beauty of whom consists in the
roundness and graceful contour of their forms. The most careful
toilette, the most, sublime needle-work, cannot hide certain
deficiencies. It has been said that whenever a pin is taken from a
thin woman, beautiful as she may be, she loses some charm.
The thin have, therefore, no remedy, except from the interference
of the faculty. The regimen must be so long, that the cure must be
Women, however, who are thin, and who have a good stomach, are
found to be as susceptible of fat as chickens. A little time,
only, is necessary, for the stomach of chickens is comparatively
smaller, and they cannot be submitted to as regular a diet as
This is the most gentle comparison which suggested itself to me. I
needed one, and ladies will excuse me for the reason for which I
wrote this chapter.
Nature varies its works, and has remedies for thinness, as it has
Persons intended to be thin are long drawn out. They have long
hands and feet, legs thin, and the os coxigis retroceding. Their
sides are strongly marked, their noses prominent, large mouths,
sharp chins and brown hair.
This is the general type, the individual elements may sometimes
vary; this however happens rarely.
Thin people sometimetimes eat a great deal. All I ever even talked
with, confess that they digest badly. That is the reason they
They are of every class and temperament. Some have nothing salient
either in feature or in form. Their eyes are inexpressive, their
lips pale, and every feature denotes a want of energy, weakness,
and something like suffering. One might almost say they seemed to
be incomplete, and that the torch of their lives had not been well
All thin women wish to be fat; this is a wish we have heard
expressed a thousand times. To render, then, this last homage to
the powerful sex, we seek to replace by folds of silk and cotton,
exposed in fashion shops, to the great scandal of the severe, who
turn aside, and look away from them, as they would from chimeras,
more carefully than if the reality presented themselves to their
The whole secret of embonpoint consists in a suitable diet. One
need only eat and select suitable food.
With this regimen, our disposition to sleep is almost unimportant.
If you do not take exercise, you will be exposed to fatness. If
you do, you will yet grow fat.
If you sleep much, you will grow fat, if you sleep little, your
digestion will increase, and you will eat more.
We have then only to speak of the manner they who wish to grow fat
should live. This will not be difficult, according to the many
directions we have laid down.
To resolve this problem, we must offer to the stomach food which
occupies, but does not fatigue it, and displays to the assimilant
power, things they can turn into fat.
Let us seek to trace out the daily diet of a sylph, or a sylph
disposed to materialize itself.
GENERAL RULE. Much fresh bread will be eaten during the day, and
particular care will be taken not to throw away the crumbs.
Before eight in the morning, soup au pain or aux pates will be
taken, and afterwards a cup of good chocolate.
At eleven o'clock, breakfast on fresh broiled eggs, petit pates
cotelettes, and what you please; have eggs, coffee will do no
Dinner hour should be so arranged that one should have thoroughly
digested before the time comes to sit down at the table. The
eating of one meal before another is digested, is an abuse.
After dinner there should be some exercise; men as much as they
can; women should go into the Tuilleries, or as they say in
America, go shopping. We are satisfied that the little gossip and
conversation they maintain is very healthful.
At times, all should take as much soup, potage, fish, etc., and
also meat cooked with rice and macaronies, pastry, creams, etc.
At dessert such persons should eat Savoy biscuits, and other
things made up of eggs, fecula, and sugar.
This regimen, though apparently circumscribed, is yet susceptible
of great variety: it admits the whole animal kingdom, and great
care is necessarily taken in the seasoning and preparation of the
food presented. The object of this is to prevent disgust, which
prevents any amelioration.
Beer should be preferred--if not beer, wines from Bourdeaux or
from the south of France.
One should avoid all acids, except salads. As much sugar as
possible should be put on fruits and all should avoid cold baths.
One should seek as long as possible, to breathe the pure country
air, eat many grapes when they are in season, and never go to the
ball for the mere pleasure of dancing.
Ordinarily one should go to bed about eleven, P. M., and never,
under any circumstances, sit up more than an hour later.
Following this regime resolutely, all the distractions of nature
will soon be repaired. Health and beauty will both be advanced,
and accents of gratitude will ring in the ears of the professor.
Sheep are fattened, as are oxen, lobsters and oysters. Hence, I
deduce the general maxim; viz: "He that eats may be made fat,
provided that the food be chosen correctly, and according to the
physiology of the animal to be fattened."
FASTING is a moral abstinence from food, from some religious or
Though contrary to our tastes and habits, it is yet of the
Authors explain the matter thus:
In individual troubles, when a father, mother, or beloved child
have died, all the household is in mourning. The body is washed,
perfumed, enbalmed, and buried as it should be--none then think of
eating, but all fast.
In public calamites, when a general drought appears, and cruel
wars, or contagious maladies come, we humble ourselves before the
power that sent them, and mortify ourselves by abstinence.
Misfortune ceases. We become satisfied that the reason was that we
fasted, and we continue to have reference to such conjectures.
Thus it is, men afflicted with public calamities or private ones,
always yield to sadness, fail to take food, and in the end, make a
voluntary act, a religious one.
They fancied they should macerate their body when their soul was
oppressed, that they could excite the pity of the gods. This idea
seized on all nations and filled them with the idea of mourning,
prayers, sacrifice, abstinence, mortification, etc.
Christ came and sanctified fasting. All Christian sects since then
have adopted fasting more or less, as an obligation.
HOW PEOPLE USED TO FAST.
The practice of fasting, I am sorry to say, has become very rare;
and whether for the education of the wicked, or for their
conversion, I am glad to tell how we fast now in the XVIII.
Ordinarily we breakfast before nine o'clock, on bread, cheese,
fruit and cold meats.
Between one and two P. M., we take soup or pot au feu according to
About four, there is a little lunch kept up for the benefit of
those people who belong to other ages, and for children.
About eight there was a regular supper, with entrees roti
entremets dessert: all shared in it, and then went to bed.
In Paris there are always more magnificent suppers, which begin
just after the play. The persons who usually attend them are
pretty women, admirable actresses, financiers, and men about town.
There the events of the day were talked of, the last new song was
sung, and politics, literature, etc., were discussed. All persons
devoted themselves especially to making love.
Let us see what was done on fast days:
No body breakfasted, and therefore all were more hungry than
All dined as well as possible, but fish and vegetables are soon
gone through with. At five o'clock all were furiously hungry,
looked at their watches and became enraged, though they were
securing their soul's salvation.
At eight o'clock they had not a good supper, but a collation, a
word derived from cloister, because at the end of the day the
monks used to assemble to comment on the works of the fathers,
after which they were allowed a glass of wine.
Neither butter, eggs, nor any thing animal was served at these
collations. They had to be satisfied with salads, confitures, and
meats, a very unsatisfactory food to such appetites at that time.
They went to bed, however, and lived in hope as long as the fast
Those who ate these little suppers, I am assured, never fasted.
The chef-d'oeuvre of a kitchen of those days, I am assured, was a
strictly apostolic collation, which, however, was very like a good
Science soon resolved this problem by the recognition of fish,
soups, and pastry made with oil. The observing of fasting, gave
rise to an unknown pleasure, that of the Easter celebration.
A close observation shows that the elements of our enjoyment are,
difficult privation, desire and gratification. All of these are
found in the breaking of abstinence. I have seen two of my grand
uncles, very excellent men, too, almost faint with pleasure, when,
on the day after Easter, they saw a ham, or a pate brought on the
table. A degenerate race like the present, experiences no such
ORIGIN OF THE REMOVAL OF RESTRICTION IN FASTING.
I witnessed the rise of this. It advanced by almost insensible
Young persons of a certain age, were not forced to fast, nor were
pregnant women, or those who thought themselves so. When in that
condition, a soup, a very great temptation to those who were well,
was served to them.
Then people began to find out that fasting disagreed with them,
and kept them awake. All the little accidents man is subject to,
were then attributed to it, so that people did not fast, because
they thought themselves sick, or that they would be so. Collations
thus gradually became rarer.
This was not all; some winters were so severe that people began to
fear a scarcity of vegetables, and the ecclesiastical power
officially relaxed its rigor.
The duty, however, was recognised and permission was always asked.
The priests were refused it, but enjoined the necessity of extra
The Revolution came, which occupied the minds of all, that none
thought of priests, who were looked on as enemies to the state.
This cause does not exist, but a new one has intervened. The hour
of our meals is totally changed; we do not eat so often, and a
totally different household arrangement would be required for
fasting. This is so true, that I think I may safely say, though I
visit none but the best regulated houses, that, except at home, I
have not seen a lenten table, or a collation ten times in twenty-
We will not finish this chapter without observing the new
direction popular taste has taken.
Thousands of men, who, forty years ago would have passed their
evenings in cabarets, now pass them at the theatres.
Economy, certainly does not gain by this, but morality does.
Manners are improved at the play, and at cafes one sees the
journals. One certainly escapes the quarrels, diseases, and
degradation, which infallibly result from the habit of frequenting
BY exhaustion, a state of weakness, languor or depression, caused
by previous circumstances is understood, rendering the exercise of
the vital functions more difficult. There are various kinds of
exhaustion, caused by mental labor, bodily toil and the abuse of
One great remedy is to lay aside the acts which have produced this
state, which, if not a disease, approximates closely to one.
After these indispensable preliminaries, gastronomy is ready with
When a man is overcome by too long fatigue, it offers him a good
soup, generous wine, flesh and sleep.
To a savant led into debility by a too great exercise of his
mental faculties, it prescribes fresh air, a bath, fowl and
The following observation will explain how I effected a cure of
another kind of exhaustion. [The translator thinks it best not to
translate this anecdote, but merely to append the original.]
CURE BY THE PROFESSOR.
J'allai un jour faire visite a un de mes meilleurs amis (M.
Rubat); on me dit qu'il etait malade, et effectivement je le
trouvai en robe de chambre aupres de son feu, et en attitude
Sa physionomie m'effraya: il avait le visage pale, les yeux
brillants et sa levre tombait de maniere a laisser voir les dents
de la machoire inferieure, ce qui avait quelque chose de hideux.
Je m'enquis avec interet de la cause de ce changement subit; il
hesita, je le pressai, et apres quelque resistance: "Mon ami, dit-
il en rougissant, tu sais que ma femme est jalouse, et que cette
manie m'a fait passer bien des mauvais moments. Depuis quelques
jours, il lui en a pris une crise effroyable, et c'est en voulant
lui prouver qu'elle n'a rien perdu de mon affection et qu'il ne se
fait a son prejudice aucune derivation du tribut conjugal, que je
me suis mis en cet etat.--Tu as done oublie, lui dis-je, et que tu
as quarante-cinq ans, et que la jalousie est un mal sans remede?
Ne sais-tu pas furens quid femina possit?" Je tins encore quelques
autres propos peu galants, car j'etais en colere.
"Voyons, au surplus, continuai-je: ton pouls est petit, dur,
concentre; que vas-tu faire?--Le docteur, me dit-il, sort d'ici;
il a pense que j'avais une fievre nerveuse, et a ordonne une
saignee pour laquelle il doit incessamment m'envoyer le
chirurgien.--Le chirurgien! m' ecriai-je, garde-t'en bien, ou tu
es mort; chasse-le comme un meurtrier, et dis lui que je me suis
empare de toi, corps et ame. Au surplus, ton medecin connait-il la
cause occasionnelle de ton mal?--Helas! non, une mauvaise honte
m'a empeche de lui fairs une confession entiere.--Eh bien, il faut
le prier de passer cher toi. Je vais te faire une potion
appropriee a ton etat; en attendant prends ceci." Je lui presentai
un verre d'eau saturee de sucre, qu'il avala avec la confiance
d'Alexandre et la foi du charbounier.
Alors je le quittai et courus chez moi pour y mixtionner,
fonctionner et elaborer un magister reparateur qu'on trouvera dans
les Varietes, avec les divers modes que j'adoptai pour me hater;
car, en pareil cas, quelques heures de retard peuvent donner lieu
a des accidents irreparables.
Je revins bientot arme de ma potion, et deja je trouvai du mieux;
la couleur reparaissait aux joues, l'oeil etait detendu; mais la
levre pendait toujours avec une effrayante difformite.
Le medecin ne tarda pas a reparaitre; je l'instruisis de ce que
j'avais fait et le malade fit ses aveux. Son front doctoral prit
d'abord un aspect severe; mais bientot nous regardant avec un air
ou il y avait un peu d'ironie: "Vous ne devez pas etre etonne,
dit-il a mon ami, que je n'aie pas devine une maladie qui ne
convient ni a votre age ni a votre etat, et il y a de votre part
trop de modestie a en cacher la cause, qui ne pouvait que vous
faire honneur. J'ai encore a vous gronder de ce que vous m'avez
expose a une erreur qui aurait pu vous etre funeste. Au surplus,
mon confrere, ajouta-til en me faisant un salut que je lui rendis
avec usure, vous a indique la bonne route; prenez son potage, quel
que soit le nom qu'il y donne, et si la fievre vous quitte, comme
je le crois, dejeunez demain avec une tasse de chocolat dans
laquelle vous ferez delayer deux jaunes d'oeufs frais."
A ces mots il prit sa canne, son chapeau et nous quitta, nous
laissant fort tentes de nous egayer a ses depens.
Bientot je fis prendre a mon malade une forte tasse de mon elixir
de vie; il le but avec avidite, et voulait redoubler; mais
j'exigeai un, ajournement de deux heures, et lui servis une
seconde dose avant de me retirer.
Le lendemain il etait sans fievre et presque bien portant; il
dejeuna suivant l'ordonnance, continua la potion, et put vaquer
des le surlendemain a ses occupations ordinaires; mais la levre
rebelle ne se releva qu'apres le troisieme jour.
Pen de temps apres, l'affaire transpira, et toutes les dames en
chuchotaient entre elles.
Quelques-unes admiraient mon ami, presque toutes le plaignaient,
et le professeur gastronome fut glorifie.
Omnia mors poscit; lex est, non poena, perire.
God has subjected man to six great necessities: birth, action,
eating, sleep, reproduction and death.
Death is the absolute interruption of the sensual relations, and
the absolute annihilation of the vital powers, which abandons the
body to the laws of decomposition.
These necessities are all accompanied and softened by a sensation
of pleasure, and even death, when j natural, is not without
charms. We mean when a man has passed through the different phases
of growth, virility, old age, and decrepitude.
Had I not determined to make this chapter very short, I would
invoke the assistance of the physicians, who have observed every
shade of the transition of a living to an inert body. I would
quote philosophers, kings, men of letters, men, who while on the
verge of eternity, had pleasant thoughts they decked in the
graces; I would recall the dying answer of Fontinelle, who being
asked what he felt, said, "nothing but the pain of life;" I
prefer, however, merely to express my opinion, founded on analogy
as sustained by many instances, of which the following is the
I had a great aunt, aged eighty-three when she died. Though she
had long been confined to her bed, she preserved all her
faculties, and the approach of death was perceived by the
feebleness of her voice and the failing of her appetite.
She had always exhibited great devotion to me, and I sat by her
bed-side anxious to attend on her. This, however, did not prevent
my observing her with most philosophic attention.
"Are you there, nephew?" said she in an almost inaudible voice.
"Yes, aunt! I think you would be better if you would take a little
old wine." "Give it to me, liquids always run down." I hastened to
lift her up and gave her half a glass of my best and oldest wine.
She revived for a moment and said, "I thank you. If you live as
long as I have lived, you will find that death like sleep is a
These were her last words, and in half an hour she had sank to
Richerand has described with so much truth the gradations of the
human body, and the last moments of the individual that my readers
will be obliged to me for this passage.
"Thus the intellectual faculties are decomposed and pass away.
Reason the attribute of which man pretends to be the exclusive
possessor, first deserts him. He then loses the power of combining
his judgment, and soon after that of comparing, assembling,
combining, and joining together many ideas. They say then that the
invalid loses his mind, that he is delirious. All this usually
rests on ideas familiar to the individual. The dominant passion is
easily recognized. The miser talks most wildly about his
treasures, and another person is besieged by religious terrors.
"After reasoning and judgment, the faculty of association becomes
lost. This takes place in the cases known as defaillances, to
which I have myself been liable. I was once talking with a friend
and met with an insurmountable difficulty in combining two ideas
from which I wished to make up an opinion. The syncopy was not,
however, complete, for memory and sensation remained. I heard the
persons around me say distinctly he is fainting, and sought to
arouse me from this condition, which was not without pleasure.
"Memory then becomes extinct. The patient, who in his delirium,
recognized his friends, now fails even to know those with whom he
had been on terms of the greatest intimacy. He then loses
sensation, but the senses go out in a successive and determinate
order. Taste and smell give no evidence of their existence, the
eyes become covered with a mistful veil and the ear ceases to
execute its functions. For that reason, the ancients to be sure of
the reality of death, used to utter loud cries in the ears of the
dying. He neither tastes, sees, nor hears. He yet retains the
sense of touch, moves in his bed, changes the position of the arms
and body every moment, and has motions analogous to those of the
foetus in the womb. Death affects him with no terror, for he has
no ideas, and he ends as he begun life, unconsciously.
"(Richerand's Elements on Physiology, vol. ii. p. 600.)
PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY OF THE KITCHEN.
COOKERY is the most ancient of arts, for Adam must have been born
hungry, and the cries of the infant are only soothed by the
Of all the arts it is the one which has rendered the greatest
service in civil life. The necessities of the kitchen taught us
the use of fire, by which man has subdued nature.
Looking carefully at things, three kinds of cuisine may be
The first has preserved its primitive name.
The second analyzes and looks after elements: it is called
The third, is the cookery of separation and is called pharmacy.
Though different objects, they are all united by the fact that
they use fire, furnaces, etc., at the same time.
Thus a morsel of beef, which the cook converts into potage or
bouilli, the chemist uses to ascertain into how many substances it
may be resolved.
ORDER OF ALIMENTATION.
Man is an omnivorous animal: he has incisors to divide fruits,
molar teeth to crush grain, and canine teeth for flesh. Let it he
remarked however, that as man approaches the savage state, the
canine teeth are more easily distinguishable.
The probability was, that the human race for a long time, lived on
fruit, for it is the most ancient food of the human race, and his
means of attack until he had acquired the use of arms are very
limited. The instinct of perfection attached to his nature,
however, soon became developed, and the sentiment attached to his
instinct was soon exhibited, and he made weapons for himself. To
this he was impelled by a carniverous instinct, and he began to
make prey of the animals that surrounded him.
This instinct of destruction yet exists: children always kill the
animals that surround them, and if they were hungry would devour
It is not strange that man seeks to feed on flesh: He has too
small a stomach, and fruit has not nourishment enough to renovate
him. He could subsist on vegetables, but their preparation
requires an art, only reached after the lapse of many centuries.
Man's first weapons were the branches of trees, and subsequently
bows and arrows.
It is worthy of remark, that wherever we find man, in all climates
and latitudes, he has been found with and arrows. None can see how
this idea presented itself to individuals so differently placed:
it must be hidden by the veil of centuries.
Raw flesh has but one inconvenience. Its viscousness attaches
itself to the teeth. It is not, however, disagreeable. When
seasoned with salt it is easily digested, and must be digestible.
A Croat captain, whom I invited to dinner in 1815, was amazed at
my preparations. He said to me, "When in campaign, and we become
hungry, we knock over the first animal we find, cut off a steak,
powder it with salt, which we always have in the sabretasche, put
it under the saddle, gallop over it for half a mile, and then dine
When the huntsmen of Dauphiny go out in Septemher to shoot, they
take both pepper and salt with them. If they kill a very fat bird
they pluck, season it, carry it some time in their caps and eat
it. They say it is the best way to serve it up.
If our ancestors ate raw food we have not entirely gotten rid of
the habit. The most delicate palates like Aries' sausages, etc.,
which have never been cooked, but which are not, on that account,
the less appetising.
DISCOVERY OF FIRE.
Subsequently to the Croat mode, fire was discovered. This was an
accident, for fire is not spontaneous. Many savage nations have
been found utterly ignorant of it.
Fire having been discovered it was made use of to perfect food; at
first it was made use of to dry it, and then to cook it.
Meat thus treated was found better than when raw. It had more
firmness, was eaten with less difficulty, and the osmazome as it
was condensed by carbonization gave it a pleasing perfume.
They began, however, to find out that flesh cooked on the coals
became somewhat befouled, for certain portions of coal will adhere
to it. This was remedied by passing spits through it, and placing
it above burning coals at a suitable height.
Thus grillades were invented, and they have a flavor as rich as it
is simple. All grilled meat is highly flavored, for it must be
Things in Homer's time had not advanced much further, and all will
be pleased here to read the account of Achilles' reception of the
three leading Greeks, one of whom was royal.
I dedicate this story to the ladies, for Achilles was the
handsomest of all the Greeks, and his pride did not prevent his
weeping when Briseis was taken from him, viz:
[verse in Greek]
The following is a translation by Pope:
"Patroclus, crown a larger bowl, Mix purer wine, and open every
soul. Of all the warriors yonder host can send, Thy friend most
honours these, and these thy friend."
He said: Patroclus o'er the blazing fire Heaps in a brazen vase
three chines entire: The brazen vase Automedon sustains, 'Which
flesh of porket, sheep, and goat contains: Achilles at the genial
feast presides, The parts transfixes, and with skill divides.
Meanwhile Patroclus sweats the fire to raise; The tent is
brightened with the rising blaze:
Then, when the languid flames at length subside, He strews a bed
of glowing embers wide, Above the coals the smoking fragments
turns And sprinkles sacred salt from lifted urns; With bread the
glittering canisters they load. Which round the board Menoetius'
son bestow'd: Himself, opposed to Ulysses, full in sight, Each
portion parts, and orders every rite. The first fat offerings, to
the immortals due, Amid the greedy Patroclus threw; Then each,
indulging in the social feast, His thirst and hunger soberly
repress'd. That done, to Phoenix Ajax gave the sign; Not
unperceived; Ulysses crown'd with wine The foaming bowl, and
instant thus began, His speech addressing to the godlike man:
"Health to Achilles!"
Thus then a king, a son of a king, and three Grecian leaders dined
very comfortably on bread, wine, and broiled meat.
We cannot but think that Achilles and Patroclus themselves
prepared the entertainment, if only to do honor to the
distinguished guests they received. Ordinarily the kitchen
business was abandoned to slaves and women, as Homer tells us in
Odyssey when he refers to the entertainment of the heralds.
The entrails of animals stuffed with blood were at that time
looked on as very great delicacies.
At that time and long before, beyond doubt, poetry and music, were
mingled with meals. Famous minstrels sang the wonders of nature,
the loves of the gods, and warlike deeds of man. Theirs was a kind
of priesthood and it is probable that the divine Homer himself was
sprung from one of those men favored by heaven. He would not have
been so eminent had not his poetical studies begun in his
Madame Dacier observes that Homer does not speak of boiled meat
anywhere in his poems. The Jews had made much greater progress in
consequence of their captivity in Egypt. They had kettles. Esau's
mess of potage must have been made thus. For this he sold his
It is difficult to say how men learned the use of metals. Tubal
Cain, it is said, was the inventor.
In the present state of knowledge, we use one metal to
manufacture another. We overcome them with iron pincers; cut them
with steel files, but I never met with any one who could tell me
who made the first file or pair of pincers.
Cookery made great advances. We are ignorant however of its
utensils, whether of iron, pottery or of tin material.
The oldest books we know of make honorable mention of oriental
festivals. It is not difficult to believe that monarchs who
ruled such glorious realms abounded in all that was grateful. We
only know that Cadmus who introduced writing into Greece, was cook
of the king of Sidon.
The idea of surrounding the table with couches, originated from
this voluptuous prince.
Cookery and its flavors were then highly esteemed by the
Athenians, a people fond of all that was new. From what we read in
their histories, there is no doubt but that their festivals were
The wines of Greece, which even now we find excellent, have been
estimated by scientific gourmands the most delicious that were.
The most beautiful women that ever came to adorn our
entertainments were Greeks, or of Grecian origin.
The wisest men of old were anxious to display the luxury of such
enjoyments. Plato, Atheneus, and many others, have preserved their
names. The works of all of them, however, are lost, and if any
remember them, it is only those who have heard of a long forgotten
and lost book, the Gastronomy [Greek word]--the friend of one of
the sons of Pericles.
Such was the cookery of Greece, which sent forth a few men who
first established themselves in the Tiber, and then took
possession of the world.
Good cheer was unknown to the Romans as long as they thought to
preserve their independence or to overcome their neighbors, who
were poor as they were. Their generals therefore lived on
vegetables. Historians have never failed to praise these times,
when frugality was a matter of honor. When, however, their
conquests had extended into Africa, Sicily and Hellas, when they
had to live as people did where civilization was more advanced,
they brought back to Rome the tastes which had attended them in
The Romans sent to Athens a deputation charged to bring back the
laws of Solon. They also sent them thither to study belles lettres
and philosophy. While their manners became polished they became
aware of the attractions of festivals. And poets, philosophers,
orators, etc., all came to Rome at once.
As time advanced, and as the series of events attracted to Rome
almost all the riches of the world, the luxury of the table became
Every thing was eaten--the grass-hopper and the ostrich, the
squirrel and the wild-boar--all imaginable vegetables were put in
Armies and travellers put all the world in requisition. The most
distinguished Roman citizens took pleasure, not only in the
cultivation of fruits once known, such as pears, apples, etc., but
sought out things Lucullus never dreamed of. These importations
which naturally had a great influence, prove at least that the
impulse was general, that each one sought to contribute to the
enjoyment of those around him.
Our drinks were not the object of less attention, nor of less
attentive cares. The Romans were delighted with the wines of
Italy, Greece, and Sicily. As they estimated their value from the
year in which they were made, we may understand Cicero's much
Oh tortuna tam, natura, me consule Roman.
This was not all. In consequence of an instinct hitherto referred
to, an effort was made to make them more highly perfumed, and
flowers, aromatics, etc., were infused. Such things which the
Romans called condita, must have had a very bad effect on the
Thus the Romans came to dream of alcohol, which was not discovered
until long after they were born.
RESURRECTION OF LUCULLUS.
The glorious days of old might arise again, and nothing but a
Lucullus is needed, to bring this about. Let us fancy that any
man, known to be rich, should wish to celebrate any great act, and
give in this manner an occasion for a famous entertainment.
Let us suppose that he appeals to every one to adorn his
entertainment, and orders every possible resource to be prepared.
Let him make every imaginable preparation and Lucullus would be as
nothing compared with the civilized world as it is.
Both the Romans and the Athenians had beds to eat on. They
achieved the purpose but indirectly.
At first they used beds only for the sacred festivals offered to
the gods. The magistrates and principal men, adopted the custom,
and ere long, it became general and was preserved until in the
beginning of the fourth century.
These couches were at first, only boxes filled with straw, and
covered with skins. Gradually, however, they became more
luxurious, and were made of the most precious woods, inlaid with
ivory, and sometimes with gems. Their cushions were soft and their
covers magnificently embroidered.
People only laid down on the left elbow. Three usually slept
This the Romans called lectisternium. It is not a very bad name.
In a physical point of view incubitation demands a certain
exhibition of power to preserve equlibrium, and is not without a
degree of pain; the elbow supporting an undue proportion of the
weight of the body.
In a physiological point of view, something also is to be said.
Imbuccation (swallowing) is effected in a less natural manner. The
food is passed with more difficulty into the stomach.
The ingestion of liquids, or drinking, is yet more difficult. It
required particular attention not to spill the wine from the large
cups on the tables of the great. Thence came the proverb:
"Between the cup and lip,
There is often time a slip."
None could eat comfortably when reclining, especially when we
remember that many of the guests had long beards, and that
fingers, or at least only knives were used. Forks are an invention
of modern times, for none were found at Herculaeneum.
Some violations of modesty must also have occurred at repasts
which frequently exceeded the bounds of temperance, and where the
two sexes have fallen asleep, and were mingled together. A poet
"Nam pransus, jaceo, et satur supinus,
Pertimdo tunicamque, palliumque."
When Christianity had acquired some power, its priests lifted up
their voices against intemperance. They declaimed against the
length of meals which violated all prudence by surrounding persons
by every species of voluptuousness. Devoted by choice to an
austere regimen, they placed gourmandise in the list of capital
sins, and rigidly commented on the mingling of sexes and the use
of beds, a habit which they said produced the luxury they
Their menacing voice was heard; couches disappeared, and the old
habit of eating sitting, was restored. Fortunately this did not
violate the demands of pleasure.
Convivial poetry then underwent a new modification, and in the
mouths of Horace and Tibullus assumed a languor the Greeks were
Dulce ridentem Lalagem amabo,
Quaeris quot mihi batiationes
Tuae, Lesbia, sint satis superque.
Pande, puella, pande capillulos
Mavos, lucentus ut aurum nitidum.
Pande, puella, collum candidum
Productum bene candidis humeris.
IRRUPTION OF THE BARBARIANS.
The five or six centuries we shall run over in a few pages, were
glorious days for the cuisine; the irruption however of northern
men overturned and destroyed everything.
When the strangers appeared, alimentary art made its appearance,
as did the others that are its companions. The greater portion of
the cooks were massacred in the palaces they served. The
foreigners came and they were able to eat as much in an hour as
civilized people did in a week.
Although that which is excessive is not durable--conquerors are
always cruel. They united themselves with the victors, who
received some tints of civilization, and began to know the
pleasures of civilized life.
* * * * * * *
About the seventeenth century, the Dutch imported coffee into
Europe. Solyman Agu, a Turk, whom our great, great grandfathers
well remember, sold the first cups in 1760. An American sold it in
1670, and dealt it out from a marble bar, as we see now.
The use of coffee then dates from the eighteenth century.
Distillation, introduced by the crusades, remained arcana, with
few adepts. About the commencement of the reign of Louis XIV,
alambics became more common, but not until the time of Louis XV.,
did the drink become really popular.
About the same time the use of tobacco was introduced. So that
sugar, coffee and tobacco, the three most important articles of
luxury in Europe, are scarcely two centuries old.
[The translator here omits a whole Meditation. It would now be
A restaurateur is one, the business of whom is to offer a dinner
always ready, and with prices to suit those that consume them.
Of all those who frequent restaurants, few persons cannot
understand that a restorateur is not necessarily a man of genius.
We shall follow out the affiliation of ideas which has led to the
present state of affairs.
About 1770, after the glorious days of Louis XIV., and the frolics
and tranquility of the regency of Cardinal Fleury, foreigners had
few means of good cheer.
They were forced to have recourse to inn-keepers, the cookery of
whom was generally very bad. A few hotels kept a table d'hote
which generally contained only what was very necessary, and which
was always ready at an appointed hour.
The people we speak of only ordered whole joints, or dishes, and
consequently such an order of things could not last.
At last a man of sense arose, who thought that an active cause
must have its effect. That as the same want sent people every day
to his house, consumers would come whenever they were satisfied
that they would be served. They saw that if a wing was cut from a
fowl for one person, some one would be sure to taste the thigh.
The separation of one limb would not injure the flavor of the rest
of the animal. More pay the least attention to the increase of
prices, when one considers the prompt service of what was served.
This man thought of many things, which we may now easily devise.
The one who did so was the first restaurateur and the inventor of
a business which is a fortune to all who exercise it promptly and
[The translator here omits a whole chapter.]
From the examination of the bills of fare of different
restaurants, any one who sets down at the table, has the choice of
the following dishes:--
24 side dishes.
15 or 20 preparations of beef.
20 of mutton.
30 of fowl or game.
16 or 20 of veal.
12 of pastry.
24 of fish.
50 side dishes.
Besides the fortunate gastronomer has thirty kinds of wine to
select from, passing over the whole scale from Burgundy to Tokay,
and Constantia, and twenty various kinds of essences, without
taking into consideration such mixed drinks as punch, negus,
sillabubs and the like.
Of the various parts of a good dinner, many are indigenous, such
as butcher's meat, fowl and fruits. Others for instance, the beef-
stake, Welch rare-bit, punch, etc., were invented in England.
Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland, all contribute, as does India,
Persia, Arabia, and each pay their quota, in sour-krout, raisins,
parmera, bolognas, curacao, rice, sago, soy, potatoes, etc. The
consequence is, that a Parisian dinner is perfectly cosmopolitan.
[The translator here omits two Meditations, which refer
exclusively to Paris is 1825. Few Frenchmen NOW would understand
them, and none but a Frenchman could.]
PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE
If I have been read with the attention I wished, all must have
seen that I had a double purpose in view. The first was to
establish the theoretical basis of Gastronomy, so as to place it
among sciences where it should doubtless be. The second was to
define gourmandise, and to separate this social character, as free
from gluttony and intemperance, with which it is often confounded.
This equivoque has been introduced by intolerant moralists, who,
deceived by too much zeal, saw excesses where there was only
innocent enjoyment. The treasures of creation were not made to be
trodden under the feet. It was afterwards propagated by
grammarians who defined it as blind men do, and who swore in verba
It is time that such an error should cease, for now all the world
understand each other. This is true, for there never was a person
who would not confess to some tincture of gourmandise, and even
would not boast of it, none however would not look on gluttony as
an insult, just as they do on intemperance and voracity.
About these two cardinal points, it seems that what I have
described should satisfy all those who do not refuse conviction. I
might then lay down my pen and look on the task I have imposed on
myself as finished. As however, I approached those subjects which
belong to every thing, I remembered many things which it did not
seem to me fit to write, such as anecdotes, bon mots, recipes, and
other odd things.
Had they been put in the theoretical portion of the book they
would have taken the connection; place them all together, they
will not be disadvantageous because they contain some experimental
truths and useful explanations.
I have also inserted personal biography, but when I read them
over, I feel to a degree uneasy.
This anxiety originated in my last lectures and glossaries, which
are in the hands of every body. I think, however, that I may be
tranquil, having sheltered myself under the mantle of philosophy,
I insist that my enemies have uneasy consciences and sleep badly.
L'OMELETTE DU CURE.
All know that twenty years ago, Madame R---- was the most
beautiful woman in Paris. All know that she was very charitable
and took an interest in the various enterprises, the object of
which was the alleviation of misery, perhaps greater in the
capital than elsewhere.
Having business with the cure of----, she went thither about five
P. M., and was surprised to find him at dinner.
She believed that every body dined at six P. M., and was not aware
that ecclesiastics dined earlier, from the fact that they were
used to take light collations.
Madame R---- wished to retire, but the cure would not permit her
to do so, either because the matter under discussion would not
interrupt conversation, or that a pretty woman never disturbs any
The table was very well arranged; old wine sparkled in a chrystal
flagon, and the porcelain was faultless. The plates were kept hot
by boiling water, and an old housekeeper was in attendance.
The meal was half way between luxury and abstinence. A soup of
ecrevisses was removed and a salmon trout, an omelette, and a
salad were placed on the table.
"My dinner tells you," said the priest "what you do not know, that
to day is a fast day." My friend assented with a blush.
They began with the trout, the shoulders of which were soon eaten.
The sauce was made by a competent person and the pastor's brow was
irradiated with joy.
Then the omelette, which was round and done to a point, was
As soon as the spoon touched it, the odor and perfume it contained
escaped, and my friend owns that it made her mouth water.
The curel had a sympathetic movement for he was used to watch my
passions. In reply to a question he saw Madame R---- was about to
ask, he said, "It is an omelette au thon. My cook understands them
simply, and few people ever taste them without complimenting her."
"I am not amazed," said his lady guest, "for I never ate anything
Then came the salad. (I recommend it to those who have confidence
in me. It refreshes without exciting. I think it makes people
Dinner did not interrupt conversation. They talked of the affair
which had occasioned the visit, of the war, of business, of other
things which made a bad dinner passably good.
The dessert came. It consisted of septmoncel cheese, of apples and
At last the house-keeper brought forward a little round table,
such as once was called a gueridon, on which was a cup of strong
mocha, the perfume of which filled the room.
Having sipped it, the cure said grace, and arose, adding "I never
take spirits, though I offer them to my guests. I reserve them as
a succor for extreme old age."
While all this was progressing, time had passed, and as it was six
o'clock, Madame R---- was anxious to get into her carriage, for
she had several friends to dine with her. She came late, and told
her guests, of whom I was one, what she had seen.
The conversation passed from subject to subject, but I, as a
philosopher, thought the secret of the preparation of such a dish
must be valuable. I ordered my cook to obtain the recipe in its
most minute details. I publish it the more willingly now, because
I never saw it in any book.
OMELETTE AU THON.
Take for six persons the roe of four cash [Footnote: the
translator has followed this recipe with shad, pike, pickerel,
etc., and can recommend it with a quiet conscience. Any fish is a
substitute for tunny] and steep them for a few minutes in salt
water just below boiling point.
Put in also a fresh tunny about as large as an egg, to which you
must add a charlotte minced.
Mix the tunny and the roes together, and put the whole in a kettle
with a portion of good butter, and keep it on the fire until the
butter has melted. This is the peculiarity of the omelette.
Take then another piece of butter and mix it with parsely and
sage. Put it in the dish intended to receive the omelette, cover
it with lemon juice and put it on hot coals.
Then beat twelve eggs, (fresh as possible), pour in the fish and
roe so that all may be perfectly mixed.
Then cook the omelette as usual, making it thin and firm. Serve it
This dish should be reserved for breakfasts, where all the guests
are connoisseurs. It is caviare to the vulgar.
1. The roes and fish should be warmed, not boiled. They will thus
mingle more easily with the eggs.
2. The plate should be deep.
3. It should be warm, for a cold porcelain plate would extract the
caloric of the omelette and make it insipid.
II. A NATIONAL VICTORY.
When I lived in New York I used every once in a while to pass the
evening in a kind of tavern kept by a man named Little, (the old
lank coffee house) where one could always get turtle soup and all
the dishes common in the United States.
I often went thither with the Vicomte de la Massue and M. Fehr, an
old broker of Marsailles; all three of us were emigrants, and we
used to drink ale and cider, and pass the evening very pleasantly
There I became acquainted with a Mr. Wilkinson, who was a native
of Jamaica, and a person he was very intimate with, for he never
left him. The latter, the name of whom I do not remember was one
of the most extraordinary men I ever met. He had a square face,
keen eyes, and appeared to look attentively at everything, though
his features were motionless as those of a blind man. When he
laughed it was with what the English call a horse-laugh, and
immediately resumed his habitual taciturnity. Mr. Wilkinson seemed
about forty, and, in manner and appearance, seemed to be a
The Englishman seemed to like our company, and more than once
shared the frugal entertainment I offered my friends, when Mr.
Wilkinson took me one evening aside and said he intended to ask us
all to dine with him.
I accepted the invitation for three o'clock on the third day
The evening passed quietly enough, but when I was about to leave,
a waiter came to me and said that the West Indian had ordered a
magnificent dinner, thinking their invitation a challenge. The man
with the horse-laugh had undertaken to drink us Frenchmen drunk.
This intelligence would have induced me, if possible, to decline
the banquet. It was, however, impossible, and following the advice
of the Marshal de Saxe, we determined, as the wine was uncorked,
to drink it.
I had some anxiety, but being satisfied that my constitution was
young, healthy and sound, I could easily get the better of the
West Indian, who probably was unused to liquors.
I however, went to see Messrs. Fehr and Massue, and in an occular
allocution, told them of my plans. I advised them to drink as
little as possible, and to avoid too many glasses, while I talked
to our antagonists. Above all things, I advised them to keep up
some appetite, telling them that food had the effect of moderating
the fumes of wine.
Thus physically and morally armed, we went to the old bank coffee
house, where we found our friends; dinner was soon ready. It
consisted of a huge piece of beef, a roasted turkey, (plain)
boiled vegetables, a salad and pastry.
Wine was put on the table. It was claret, very good, and cheaper
than it then was in France.
Mr. Wilkinson did the honors perfectly, asking us to eat, and
setting us an example, while his friend, who seemed busy with his
plate, did nothing but laugh at the corners of his mouth.
My countrymen delighted me by their discretion.
After the claret came the port and Madeira. To the latter we paid
Then came the dessert composed of butter, cheese and hickory nuts.
Then came the time for toasts, and we drank to our kings, to human
liberty, and to Wilkinson's daughter Maria, who was, as he said,
the prettiest woman in Jamaica.
Then came spirits, viz., rum, brandy, etc. Then came songs, and I
saw things were getting warm. I was afraid of brandy and asked for
punch. Little brought a bowl, which, doubtless, he had prepared
before. It held enough for forty people, and was larger than any
we have in France.
This gave me courage; I ate five or six well buttered rolls, and I
felt my strength revive. I looked around the table and saw my
compatriots apparently fresh enough, while the Jamaican began to
grow red in the face, and seemed uneasy. His friend said nothing,
but seemed so overcome that I saw the catastrophe would soon
I cannot well express the amazement caused by this denouement, and
from the burden of which I felt myself relieved. I rang the bell;
Little came up; I said, "see these gentlemen well taken care of."
We drank a glass to their health. At last the waiter came and bore
off the defeated party feet foremost. Wilkinson's friend was
motionless, and our host would insist on singing, "Rule
Britannia." [Footnote: The translator is sorry to say, that at the
time Savarin speaks of, "Rule Britannia" was not written.]
The New York papers told the story the next day, and added that
the Englishman had died. This was not so, for Mr. Wilkinson had
only a slight attack of the gout.
MYSTIFICATION OF THE PROFESSOR AND DEFEAT OF A GENERAL.
Several years ago the newspapers told us of the discovery of a new
perfume called the emerocallis, a bulbous plant, which has an odor
not unlike the jasmin.
I am very curious, and was, therefore, induced in all probability
to go to, the Foubourg St. Germain, where I could find the
I was suitably received, and a little flask, very well wrapped up,
was handed me, which seemed to contain about two ounces. In
exchange for it I left three francs.
An etourdi would at once have opened, smelled and tasted it. A
professor, however, acts differently, and I thought modesty would
become me. I took the flagon then and went quietly home, sat on my
sofa and prepared to experience a new sensation.
I took the package from my pocket and untied the wrappings which
surrounded it. They were three different descriptions of the
emerocallis, and referred to its natural history, its flower, and
its exquisite perfume, either in the shape of pastilles, in the
kitchen, or in ices. I read each of the wrappings. 1. To indemnify
myself as well as I could for the price I have spoken of above. 2.
To prepare myself for an appreciation of the new and valuable
extract I have spoken of.
I then opened, with reverence, the box I supposed full of
pastilles. To my surprise, however, I found three other copies of
the edition I had so carefully read. Inside I found about two
dozen of the cubes I had gone so far for.
I tasted them, and must say that I found them very agreeable. I
was sorry though, that they were so few in number, and the more I
thought of the matter, the more I became mystified.
I then arose with the intention of carrying the box back to its
manufacturer. Just then, however, I thought of my grey hairs,
laughed at my vivacity, and sat down.
A particular circumstance also recurred to me. I had to deal with
a druggist, and only four days ago I had a specimen of one of that
I had one day to visit my friend Bouvier des Eclats.
I found him strolling in a most excited state, up and down the
room, and crushing in his hands a piece of poetry, I thought a
He gave it to me and said, "look at this, you know all about it."
I saw at once that it was an apothecary's bill. I was not
consulted as a poet, but as a pharmaceutist.
I knew what the trade was, and was advising him to be quiet, when
the door opened, and we saw a man of about fifty-five enter. He
was of moderate stature and his whole appearance would have been
stern, had there not been something sardonic about his lips.
He approached the fire-place, refused to sit down, and I heard the
following dialogue I have faithfully recorded.
"Monsieur," said the general, "you sent me a regular apothecary's
The man in black said that he was not an apothecary.
"What then are you?" said the general.
"Sir, I am a pharmaceutist."
"Well," said the general, "your boy--"
"Sir, I have no boy."
"Who then was the young man you sent thither?"
"I wish to say, sir, that your drugs--"
"Sir, I do not sell drugs--"
"What then do you sell?"
The general at once became ashamed at having committed so many
solicisms in a few moments, and paid the bill.
The chevalier de Langeac was rich, but his fortune was dispensed
as is the fortune of all rich men.
He funded the remnants, and aided by a little pension from the
government, he contrived to lead a very pleasant life.
Though naturally very gallant, he had nothing to do with women.
As his other powers passed away, his gourmandise increased. He
became a professor and received more invitations than he could
Lyons is a pleasant city, for there one can get vin de Bourdeaux,
Hermitage and Burgundy. The game of the neighborhood is very good,
and unexceptionable fish is taken from the lakes in the vicinity.
Every body loves Bresse chickens.
Langeac was therefore welcome at all the best tables of the city,
but took especial delight in that of a certain M. A.
In the winter of 1780, the chevalier received a letter, inviting
him to sup ten days after date, (at that time I know there were
suppers) and the chevalier quivered with emotion at the idea.
He, at the appointed time, made his appearance, and found ten
guests. There was at that time no such A grand dinner was soon
served, consisting of fish, flesh, and fowl.
All was very good, but the chevalier was not satisfied with the
hopes he had entertained.
Another thing amazed him. His guests did not seem to eat. The
chevalier was amazed to see that so many anti-convivial persons
had been collected, and thinking that he had to do justice to all
these fasting people set to work at once.
The second service was solid as the first. A huge turkey was
dressed plain, flavored by salads and macaroni au parmesan.
When he saw this, the chevalier felt his strength revive; all the
other guests were overpowered, excited by the changes of wines, he
triumphed over their impotence, and drank their health again and
again. Every time he drank their health, he took a slice from the
Due attention was paid to the side-dishes, and the chevalier stuck
to business longer than any one would have thought possible. He
only revived when the becfigues appeared, and became fully aroused
when truffles were put on the table.
Discord one day sought to effect an entrance into one of the most
harmonious houses of Paris. A turbot was to be cooked.
The fish was on the next day to be served to a company of which I
was one; it was fresh, fat, and glorious, but was so large that no
dish in the house could hold it.
"Let us cut it in half," said the husband.
"Would you thus dishonor it?" said the wife.
"We must, my dear."
"Well, bring the knife, we will soon do it."
"Wait though, our cousin, who is a professor, will soon be here.
He will relieve us from the dilemma."
The gordian knot was about to be released, when I came in hungry,
as a man always is at seven P. M.
When I came in I tried in vain to make the usual compliments. No
one listened, and for that reason no one replied to me. The
subject in discussion was at once submitted to me.
I made up my mind at once, went to the kitchen, found a kettle
large enough to boil the whole fish, and did so. There was a
procession composed of the master, mistress, servants, and
company, but they all approved of what I did. With the fish we
boiled bulbous root and other vegetables. [Footnote: From the
above it is very clear that Brillat Savarin made what the late D.
Webster called a "chowder."] When the fish was cooked we sat down
at the table, our ideas being somewhat sharpened by the delay, and
sought anxiously for the time, of which Homer speaks, when
abundance expells hunger. [The translator here omits a very
excellent recipe for a fish-chowder. Everybody knows it.]
None but adepts know what a pheasant is. They only can appreciate
Everything has its apogee of excellence, some of which, like
capers, asparagus, partridges, callow-birds, etc., are eatable
only when they are young. Others are edible only when they obtain
the perfection of their existence, such as melons and fruits, and
the majority of the beasts which furnish us with animal food.
Others are not good until decomposition begins, such as the snipe
When the pheasant is eaten only three days after its death, it has
no peculiarity; it has not the flavor of a pullet, nor the perfume
of a quail.
It is, however, a highly flavored dish, about half way between
chicken and venison.
It is especially good when the pheasant begins to be decomposed--
an aroma and exciting oil is then produced, like coffee, only
produced by torrefaction.
This becomes evident by a slight smell and change of color.
Persons possessed, however, of the instincts of gourmandise see it
at once, just as a good cook knows whether he should take his bird
from the spit or give it a turn or two more.
When the pheasant is in that condition it should he plucked, and
The bird should then he stuffed, and in the following manner:
Take two snipe and draw them so as to put the birds on one plate,
and the livers, etc., on another.
Take the flesh and mingle it with beef, lard and herbes fines,
adding also salt and truffles enough to fill the stomach of the
Cut a slice of bread larger, considerably, than the pheasant, and
cover it with the liver, etc., and a few truffles. An anchovy and
a little fresh butter will do no harm.
Put the pheasant on this preparation, and when it is boiled
surround it with Florida oranges. Do not be uneasy about your
Drink burgundy after this dish, for long experience has taught me
that it is the proper wine.
A pheasant served in this way is a fit dish for angels, if they
visited the world as they did in Lot's day.
What I say, experience has already proved. A pheasant thus stuffed
by Picard at La Grange [Footnote: Does he refer to La Fayette's
estate?] was brought on the table by the cook himself. It was
looked on by the ladies as they would have looked at one of Mary
Herbault's hats. It was scientifically tasted, and in the interim
the ladies eyes shone like stars, and their lips became coral.
I did more than this; I gave a similar proof to the judges of the
supreme court. They are aware that the toga is sometimes to be
laid aside, and I was able to show to several that good CHEER was
a fit companion and reward for the labors of the senate. After a
few moments the oldest judge uttered the word excellent. All
bowed, and the court adopted the decision. I had observed that the
venerable old men seemed to take great delight in smelling the
dish, and that their august brows were agitated by expressions of
extreme serenity, something like a half smile hanging on their
All this thing, however is naturally accounted for. The pheasant,
itself, a very good bird, had imbibed the dressing and the flavor
of the truffle and snipe. It thus becomes thrice better.
Thus of all the good things collected, every atom is appreciated
and the consequence is, I think the pheasant fit for the table of
Parve, nec invideo, sine me liber, ibis in aulam.
GASTRONOMICAL INDUSTRY OF THE EMIGRES.
Toute Francaise, a ce que j'imagine,
Salt, bien ou mal faire, un peu de cuisine.
Belle Arsene, Act. III.
In a chapter written for the purpose, the advantages France
derived from gourmandise in 1815, were fully explained. This was
not less useful to emigres; all those, who had any alimentary
resources, received much benefit from it.
When I passed through Boston, I taught a cook, named Julien, who
in 1794 was in his glory, how to serve eggs with cheese. Julien
was a skilful lad, and had, he said, been employed by the
Archbishop of Bourdeaux. This was to the Americans a new dish, and
Julien in return, sent me a beautiful deer he had received from
Canada, which those I invited to do honour to it, thought
Captain Collet also, in 1794 and 1795 earned much money by the
manufacture of ices and sherbets.
Women always take care to enjoy any pleasures which are new to
them. None can form an idea of their surprise. They could not
understand how it could remain so cold, when the thermometer was
at 26 [degrees] Reaumur.
When I was at Cologne, I found a Breton nobleman, who thought
himself very fortunate, as the keeper of a public house; and I
might multiply these examples indefinitely. I prefer however to
tell of a Frenchman, who became very rich at London, from the
skill he displayed in making salad.
He was a Limousin, and if I am not mistaken, was named Aubignac,
Poor as he was, he went, however, one day to dine at one of the
first restaurants of London. He could always make a good dinner on
a single good dish.
While he was discussing a piece of roast beef, five or six dandies
sat at the next table, and one of them advanced and said, "Sir,
they say your people excel in the art of making a salad. Will you
be kind enough to oblige us?"
After some hesitation d'Albignac consented, and having set
seriously to work, did his best.
While he was making his mixture, he replied frankly to questions
about his condition, and my friend owned, not without a little
blushing, that he received the aid of the English government, a
circumstance which doubtless induced one of the young men to slip
a ten pound bank bill into his hand.
He gave them his address, and not long after, was much surprised
to receive a letter inviting him to come to dress a salad at one
of the best houses in Grosvenor square.
D'Albignac began to see that he might draw considerable benefit
from it, and did not hesitate to accept the offer. He took with
him various preparations which he fancied would make his salad
perfect as possible.
He took more pains in this second effort, and succeeded better
than he had at first. On this occasion so large a sum was handed
to him that he could not with justice to himself refuse to accept
The young men he met first, had exaggerated the salad he had
prepared for them, and the second entertainment was yet louder in
its praise. He became famous as "the fashionable salad-maker," and
those who knew anything of satirical poetry remembered:
Desir do nonne est un feu pui devore,
Desir d'Anglaise est cent fois piri encore.
D'Albignac, like a man of sense, took advantage of the excitement,
and soon obtained a carriage, that he might travel more rapidly
from one part of the town to the other. He had in a mahogany case
all the ingredients he required.
Subsequently he had similar cases prepared and filled, which he
used to sell by the hundred.
Ultimately he made a fortune of 80,000 francs, which he took to
France when times became more peaceful.
When he had returned to France, he did not hurry to Paris, but
with laudable precaution, placed 60,000 francs in the funds, and
with the rest purchased a little estate, on which, for aught I
know, he now lives happily. His funded money paid him fifty per
These facts were imparted to me by a friend, who had known D
'Albignac in London, and who had met him after his return.
RECOLLECTIONS OF THE EMIGRATION.
In 1794, M. de Rostaing, my cousin and friend, now military
intendant at Lyons, a man of great talent and ability, and myself
were in Switzerland.
We went to Mondon, where I had many relations, and was kindly
received by the family of Troillet. I will never forget their
I was there shown a young French officer who was a weaver, and who
became one thus:--
This young man, a member of a very good family, was passing
through Mondon, to join Condes army, and chanced to meet an old
man with one of the animated heads usually attributed by painters
to the companions of the famous Tell.
At their dessert, the officer did not conceal his situation, and
received much sympathy from his new friend. The latter complained
that at such an age, he had now to renounce all that was pleasant,
and that every man should, as Jean Jacques, says, have some trade
to support themselves in adversity.
The conversation paused there; and a short time after, he joined
the army of Conde. From what he saw there, however, he saw he
never could expect to enter France in that way.
Then he remembered the words of the weaver; and finally making up
his mind, left the army, returned to Mondon, and begged the weaver
to receive him as an apprentice.
On the next day the officer set to work, dining and sleeping with
the weaver, and was so assiduous, that after six months, his
master told him, he had nothing to teach him, thought himself
repaid for the care he had bestowed, and that all he earned
henceforth was his own profit.
When I was at Mondon, the new artisan had earned money enough to
purchase a shop and a bed. He worked with great assiduity, and
such interest was taken in him, that some of the first houses of
the city enquired after him every day.
On Sunday, he wore his uniform, and resumed his social rights. As
he was very well read, all took pleasure in his company, and he
did not seem discontented with his fate.
To this picture of the advantage of industry, I am about to add an
altogether different one.
I met at Lausanne, an emigre from Lyons, who to avoid work used to
eat but twice a week. He would have died beyond a doubt, if a
merchant in the city had not promised to pay for his dinner every
Sunday, and Wednesday of the week.
The emigre came always at the appointed time, and always took away
a large piece of bread.
He had been living in this manner some three months, when I met
him; he had not been sick, but he was so pale that it was sad to
I was amazed that he would suffer such pain rather than work. I
asked him once to dine with me, but did not repeat the invitation
because I believe in obeying that divine precept, "By the sweat of
thy brow shalt thou earn thy bread."
SOJOURN IN AMERICA.
From Switzerland I went to America.
* * * * * * *
Passing one day in February, by the Palais Royal, I paused before
the shop of Mme Chevet, the largest dealer in comestibles in
Paris, who always wished me well. Seeing a large box of asparagus,
the smallest of which was large as my finger, I asked the price.
"Forty francs," said she. "They are very fine, but only a king or
prince could eat at such a rate." "You are wrong sir," said she,
"such things never go to palaces, but I will sell the asparagus.
"There are now in this city at least three hundred rich men,
capitalists and financiers, retained at home by gout, colds, and
doctors. They are always busy to ascertain what will revive them
and send their valets out on voyages of discovery. Some one of
them will remark this asparagus, and it will be bought. It may be,
some pretty woman will pass with her lover, and say, 'what fine
asparagus. How well my servant dresses it.' The lover then does
not hesitate, and I will tell you a secret, that dear things are
sold more easily than cheap ones."
As she spoke two fat Englishmen passed us. They seemed struck at
once. One seized hold of the asparagus and without asking the
price paid for it, and as he walked away whistled "God save the
"Monsieur," said Madame Chevet, "a thousand things like this
happen every day."
Fondue is a soup dish, and consists only in frying eggs in cheese
in proportions revealed by experience. I will give the recipe. It
is a pleasant dish, quickly made and easily prepared for
unexpected guests. I refer to it here only for my peculiar
pleasure, and because it preserves the memory of things which the
old men of Belley recollect.
Towards the end of the 17th century M. Madot became bishop of
Belley, and took possession of the diocese.
Those to whom his reception had been confided had provided an
entertainment worthy of the occasion, and made use of all the
preparations then known in the kitchen, to welcome my lord.
There was an immense fondue, to which the prelate paid great
attention; to the surprise of all he ate it with a spoon, instead
of a fork, as people had been used to do.
All the guests looked at each other with a perceptible smile on
every face. A bishop from Paris, however, must know how to eat. On
the next day there was a great deal of gossip, and people that met
at the corners, said "Well did you see how our bishop ate his
fondue? I heard from a person who was present that he used a
The bishop had some followers, innovators who preferred the spoon,
but the majority preferred the fork, and an old grand-uncle of
mine used to laugh as if he would die, as he told how M. de Madot
ate fondue with a spoon.
RECIPE FOR FONDUE, COPIED FROM THE PAPERS OF M. TROLLET, BAILLI OF
MONDON IN BERNE.
Calculate the number of eggs in proportion to the guests.
Take one-third of the weight of Gruyere and one-sixth of the
weight of butter.
Beat the eggs and mingle them with the butter and cheese in a
Put the kettle on a hot fire and stir it until the mixture is
perfect. Put in more or less salt in proportion as the cheese is
old or new. Serve it hot, with good wine, of which one should
drink much. The feast will see sights.
All one day was quiet at the Ecu de France, between Bourg and
Bresse, when the sound of wheels was heard, and a superb English
berline drove up, on the box of which were two pretty Abigails,
wrapped in blue and red cloths.
At the sight, which announced a nobleman on his travels, Chicot,
that was his name, hurried to the door of the equipage. The wife
stood at the door, the girls near by, while the boys from the
stable hurried forward satisfied that they would receive a
The women were unpacked and there came from the berline, 1st, a
fat Englishman, 2d, two thin, pale, red-haired girls, and 3d, a
lady, apparently in the first stage of consumption.
The last spoke:
"Landlord," said she, "take care of the horses, give us a room and
the women refreshments. All must cost only six francs; act
Chicot put on his bonnet, madame went into the house, and the
girls to their garrets.
The horses were, however, put into the stable, the Englishman read
the papers, and the women had a pitcher of pure water. The ladies
went up stairs. The six francs were received as a poor
compensation for the trouble caused.
WONDERFUL EFFECTS OF A CLASSICAL DINNER.
"Alas! how much I am to be pitied," said the elegiac voice of a
gastronomer of the royal court of the Seine. "Hoping to be soon
able to return home, I left my cook there; business detains me at
Paris, and I have to depend on an old women the preparations of
whom make me sick. Anything satisfies my wife and children, but I
am made a martyr of the spit and pot."
Luckily a friend heard the complaint, who said, "You will not, my
friend, be a martyr. Deign to accept a classical dinner to-morrow,
and after a game of piquet we will bury all in the abyss of the
The invitation was accepted, the mystery was solved, and since the
23d June, 1825, the professor has been delighted at having one of
his best friends in royal court.
EFFECT AND DANGER OF STRONG DRINKS.
The artificial thirst we previously alluded to, is that which for
the moment appeals to strong drinks as a momentary relief. It
gradually becomes so habitual that those who grow used to it
cannot do without it even through the night, and have to leave
their bed to appease it.
This thirst then becomes a real disease, and when he has reached
that point, it may safely be said that he has not two years to
I travelled in Holland with a rich Dantzick merchant, who had for
fifty years kept the principal house for the sale of brandy.
"Monsieur," said he "none in France are aware of the importance of
the trade in brandy, which for nearly a century my father and
myself have carried on. I have watched with attention the workmen
who yield to it as too many Germans do, and they generally die in
the same manner."
"At first they take simply a glass in the morning, and for many
years this suffices. It is a common habit with all workmen, and
any one who did not indulge in it would be ridiculed by his
companions. Then they double the dose, that is to say, take a
glass at morning and night. Thus things continue about three
years, when they begin to drink three times a day, and will only
taste spirits in which highly scented herbs have been infused.
Having reached that point, one may be sure they have not more than
six months to live, for they go to the hospital and are seen no
CHEVALIERS AND ABBES.
I have already referred to these categories of gourmandise
destroyed by time.
As they disappeared thirty years since, few of the present
generation ever saw them.
About the end of the century they will probably reappear, but as
such a phenomenon demand the coincidence of many future
contingencies, I think few who live will ever witness this
As a painter of manners I must give the last touch to my portrait,
and will borrow the following passage from an author, who, I know,
will refuse me nothing.
"The title of Chevalier was only correctly granted to persons who
had been decorated, or to the younger sons of noble houses. Many
of the Chevaliers of other families would take the title for
themselves, and if they had education and good manners, none
doubted the accolade.
"They were generally young, wore the sword vertically and kept a
stiff upper lip. They gamed and fought and were a portion of the
train of any fashionable beauty."
At the commencement of the revolution many of the Chevaliers
joined the army of the emigres, enlisted or dispersed. The few who
survive can yet be recognized by their military air; almost all of
them, however, have the gout.
When any noble family had many children, one was dedicated to the
church; at first some benefice, barely sufficient to pay for the
expenses of education, was obtained, and ultimately he became
Prince, Abbe, or Bishop, as circumstances dictated.
This was the real Abbe; but many young men who disliked the perils
of the Chevalier, called themselves Abbes when they came to Paris.
Nothing was so convenient, for, with a slight change of dress,
they could appear as priests and the equals of anybody. There was
a great advantage in this for every house had its Abbe
They were generally small, round, well dressed and agreeable. They
were gourmands, active and pleasant. The few that remain have
became very devout and very fat.
None could be more comfortable than a rich prior or abbot. They
had no superiors and nothing to do. If there be a long peace, the
priors will turn up again, but unless there be a great change in
the ecclesiastical organization, the Abbes are lost for ever.
"Monsieur," said an old marquise to me one day, "which do you like
best, Burgundy or Bordeaux?" "Madame," said I, "I have such a
passion for examining into the matter, that I always postpone the
decision a week."
The Count de la Place recommends that strawberries should always
be dressed with orange juice.
"He is not a man of mind," said the Count de M---- "Why?" "Ah! he
does not eat pudding a la Richelieu, nor cutlets a la Soubise."
"Take a raisin--"
"No I thank you; I do not like wine in pills."
A DAY WITH THE BERNARDINES.
It was about one A. M., on a fine summer night, and I set out
after having been serenaded by many who took an interest in us.
This was about 1782.
I then was the chief of a troop of amateur musicians All of whom
were young and healthy.
"Monsieur," said the abbe of Saint Sulpice to me one day, and he
drew me into a window recess, "you would enjoy yourself very much
if you come some day to play for us at Saint Bernard's. The Saints
would be delighted."
I accepted the offer at once, for it seemed to promise us an
agreeable evening. I nodded assent, and all were amazed.
Annuit, et totum nutu tremefecit olympum.
Every precaution had previously been taken, for we had yet to go
four leagues, a distance sufficient to terrify the persons who had
ascended Mont Martre.
The monastery was in a valley, enclosed on the west side by a
mountain, and on the east by a hill that was not so high.
The eastern peak was crowned by a forest of immense pines. The
valley was one vast prairie, and the beech grows much like the
arrangements of an English garden.
We came about evenfall, and were received by the cellarer who had
a nose very rich-like an obelisk.
"Gentlemen," said he, "our abbe will be glad when he hears you
have come. He is yet in bed; but come with me, and you will see
whether we have expected you or not."
We followed him, and besought him to take us to the refectory.
Amid the display of the table arose a pate like a cathedral; on
one side was a quarter of cold veal, artichokes, etc., were also
on the eastern range.
There were various kinds of fruits, napkins, knives and plate; at
the foot of the table were many attentive servants.
At one corner of the refrectory was seen more than an hundred
bottles, kept cool by a natural fountain. We could snuff the aroma
of mocha, though in those venerable days none ever drank mocha so
early in the morning.
The reverend cellarer for a time laughed at our emotion, and then
spoke to us as follows:
"Gentlemen," said he, "I would be pleased to keep you company, but
as yet I have not kept my mass. I ought to ask you to drink, but
the mountain air dispenses the necessity. Receive, then, what we
offer you. I must to matins."
He went to matins.
We did our best to eat up the abbe's dinner, but could not. People
from Sirius might, but it was too much for us.
After dinner we dispersed. I crept into a good bed until mass;
like the heroes of Rocroy, who slept until the battle began.
I was aroused by a great fat friar, who had nearly pulled my arm
out of its socket, and went to the church where I found all at
We played a symphony at the offertory and sung a motet at the
elevation, concluding with four wind instruments.
We contrived, in spite of the jests usually expended on amateurs,
to get out of the difficulty very well.
We received with great benignity the praises heaped on us, and
having received the abbot's thanks went to the table.
The dinner was such as people used to eat in the fifteenth
century. There were few superfluities, but the choice of dishes
was admirable. We had plain, honest, substantial stews, good
meats, and dishes of vegetables, which made one regret they were
not more general.
The dessert was the more remarkable, as it was composed of fruits
not produced at that altitude. The gardens of Machuras, of
Morflent and other places had contributed.
There was no want of liqueurs, but coffee needs a particular
It was clear, perfumed and strong, but was not served in what are
called tasses on the Seine, but in huge bowls, into which the
monks dipped their lips and smacked them with delight.
After dinner we went to vespers, and between the psalms executed
antiphones I prepared for the purpose. That style of music was
then fashionable. I cannot say if mine was good or bad.
Our DAY being over, my orchestra was enabled to look and walk
around. On my return the abbe said, "I am about to leave you, and
will suffer you to finish the night. I do not think my presence at
all importunate to the fathers; but I wish them to do as they
When the abbot had left, the monks drew more closely together, and
a thousand jokes were told, not the less funny because the world
knows nothing of them.
About nine a glorious supper was served, long in advance of the
They laughed, sang, told stories, and one of the fathers recited
some very good verses he had himself composed.
At last a monk arose, and said, "Father Cellarer, what have you to
"True," said the father, "I am not cellarer for nothing."
He left, and soon returned with three servitors, the first of whom
brought some glorious fresh buttered toast. The others had a table
on which was a sweetened preparation of brandy and water--vulgo,
The new comers were received with acclamation; the company ate the
toasts, drank the toddy, and when the abbey clock struck twelve,
all went to their cells to enjoy a repose they had richly earned.
PROSPERITY EN ROUTE.
One day I rode a horse I called la Joie through the It was at the
worst era of the revolution, and I went to see Mr. Prot to obtain
a passport which, probably, might save me from prison or the
At about 11 P. M., I reached a little bourg or village called Mont
St. Vaudrey, and having first attended to my horse, was struck by
a spectacle no traveller ever saw without delight.
Before a fire was a spit covered with cock quails and the rails
that are always so fat. All the juice from the quails fell on an
immense rotie so built up that the huntsman's hand was apparent.
Then came one of those leverets, the perfume of which Parisians
have no faith in though they fill the room.
"Ah ha!" said I; "Providence has not entirely deserted me. Let us
scent this perfume and die afterwards."
Speaking to the landlord who, while I was making my examinations,
walked up and down the room, I said, "Mon cher, what can you give
us for dinner?"
"Nothing very good, Monsieur. You can have potatoes. The beans are
awful. I never had a worse dinner."
The landlord seemed to suspect the cause of my disappointment. I
said, however, "for whom is all this game kept?"
"Alas, Monsieur," said he, "it is not mine but belongs to some
lawyers and judges who have been here several days on a business
which concerns a very rich old lady. They finished yesterday, and
wish to celebrate the event by a revolt."
"Monsieur," said I, "be pleased to say that a gentleman asks the
favor of being permitted to dine with them, that he will pay his
portion of the expense, and also be much obliged to them."
He left me and did not return, but after a few minutes a little
fat man entered, who hovered around the kitchen, lifted up the
covers and disappeared.
"Ah, ha!" said I. The tiler has come to look at me. I began to
hope, for I knew my appearance was not repulsive. My heart beat
quickly as a candidate's does after the ballot-box is opened, and
before he knows the result, when the landlord told me the
gentlemen only waited for me to sit down.
I went at once, and was received in the most flattering manner.
The dinner was glorious, I will not describe it, but only refer to
an admirable fricassee of chicken not often seen in such
perfection in the country. It had so many truffles that it would
have revived an old Titan.
We sang, danced, etc., and passed the evening pleasantly.
[The translator here omits half a dozen songs, which are
essentially French, and which no one can do justice to in another
H. ... DE P ...
I believe I am the first person who ever conceived the idea of a
gastronomical academy. I am afraid, however, I was a little in
advance of the day, as people may judge by what took place fifteen
The President, H. de P., the ideas of whom braved every age and
era, speaking to three of the most enlightened men of his age,
(Laplace, Chaptal, and Berthollet,) said "I look in the history of
the discovery of a new dish, which prolongs our pleasures, as far
more important than the discovery of a new star."
I shall never think science sufficiently honored until I see a
cook in the first class of the institute.
The good old President was always delighted when he thought of his
labor. He always wished to furnish me an epigraph, not like that
which made Montesquieu a member of the academy. I therefore, wrote
several verses about it, but to be copied.
Dans ses doctes travaux il fut infatigable;
Il eut de grands emplois, qu'il remplit dignement:
Et quoiqu'il filt profond, erudit et savant,
Il ne se crut jamais dispense d'etre aimable.
My work is now done, yet I am not a bit out of breath.
I could give my readers countless stories, but all is now over,
and as my book is for all time, those who will read it now will
know nothing of those for whom I write.
Let the Professor here end his work.
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