Never Eat More Than You Can Lift and Other Food Quotes and Quips: 1,500 Notable Quotables about Edibles and Potables

Never Eat More Than You Can Lift and Other Food Quotes and Quips: 1,500 Notable Quotables about Edibles and Potables

by Sharon Tyler Herbst

Sharon Tyler Herbst, the foremost writer of user-friendly food reference books, offers an "appeteasing" collection of racy, wicked, funny, informative, and historical quotations about food and drink.

Feast on:

A delicious assortment of more than 1,500 quotes on food- and drink-related subjects including dinner parties, health food, holidays, diets,…  See more details below


Sharon Tyler Herbst, the foremost writer of user-friendly food reference books, offers an "appeteasing" collection of racy, wicked, funny, informative, and historical quotations about food and drink.

Feast on:

A delicious assortment of more than 1,500 quotes on food- and drink-related subjects including dinner parties, health food, holidays, diets, gourmets, gluttons, manners, and cocktails.

More than 200 subjects arranged in a user-friendly A-to-Z format.

Quotations from an eclectic and intriguing array of over 700 personalities—including Woody Allen, Winston Churchill, Bette Davis, Steve Martin, Miss Piggy, Julia Child, and more.

A potpourri of fifty easy recipes, including Maple-Kissed Blueberries, Red-Eye Gravy, Peppered Caramel Bacon, Bodacious Brownie Thins, and Chocolate Cinnamon Toast.

Informative, entertaining tidbits featuring anecdotes, etymologies, history, and cooking tips.

Two indexes and extensive cross-referencing make it easy to find what you're looking for.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
A browser's delight, this title by food writer Herbst (The Food Lover's Tiptionary, LJ 5/15/92) is an intensely subjective compilation of 1500 food quotes and quips covering approximately 200 subjects. The sources of the quotes range from food greats such as M.F.K. Fisher and Julia Child to other notables such as Lewis Carroll and Dave Barry. Fifty recipes, from Honeyed Orange Scones to Prickly Potato Sticks, are sprinkled throughout the text, and Herbst seasons her book with selected tips such as how to serve champagne and a primer on pasta shapes. Eminently suitable for circulating collections, this book will also be handy in reference collections where quote books are in demand with one small caveat. While an attribution is provided for each quote, and while it may be possible to match some of the attributed sources with the book list in the back, no reference is made in the quote to a specific book. Entries are arranged alphabetically by subject, and the book includes several indexes (not seen) for access by subject, author, and recipes (title and subject). Just as it isn't easy to stop after eating only one potato chip, it isn't easy to stop reading this amusing book after just one quote!John Charles, Scottsdale P.L., Ariz.

Product Details

Broadway Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 7.57(h) x 1.21(d)

Read an Excerpt

Two of the most powerful loves of my life are words and food. The fact that I was born at noon on Thanksgiving Day--America's most celebrated day of feasting--seems to have been a sign that I was destined to have a love affair with food. But I've also been an avid reader and ardent writer from the moment I was able to do both. And so it was a perfectly logical segue for me to make my twelfth tome a veritable feast of more than 1,500 quotes on my favorite subjects--food and drink.

What ensued was every writer's dream--the incredibly self-indulgent and extravagant assignment of reading book after book, gathering delicious quips and quotes on edibles and potables, subjects replete with emotional allusions.

There are quotes that make me grin or giggle, as with Fran Lebowitz's "Large naked raw carrots are acceptable as food only to those who lie in hutches eagerly awaiting Easter." Some I ardently agree with, like Irena Chalmer's biting bon mot, "Salt is what makes things taste bad when it isn't in them"; others I don't, as when Alice B. Toklas said, "As if a cookbook had anything to do with writing."

Sometimes there's a line with a lilt and rhythm so lyrical, so euphonious that it's almost poetic, such as M.F.K. Fisher's "If Time, so fleeting, must like humans die, let it be filled with good food and good talk, and then embalmed in the perfumes of conviviality." Once in a while the speaker's plight makes an excerpt achingly poignant, as when Anne Frank said, "It's really disagreeable to eat a lot of sauerkraut for lunch and supper every day, but you do it if you're hungry." And then there are those word bites that ring so true for me I could have said themmyself, such as Julia Child's "Food labels that say 'no fat, no cholesterol' might as well say 'no taste, no fun.' " Others I wish were true, like Beth Barnes's "What you eat standing up doesn't count." And, of course, there are those classic sayings, such as the one by my soul sister and eminent icon of porcine pulchritude, Miss Piggy, who said, "Never eat more than you can lift!"

In the end, this collection became an appetizing feast of food- and drink-related quotes on more than two hundred subjects. I spent two hedonistically delicious years researching and writing the headnotes, anecdotes, etymologies, historical notes, and cooking tips, creating and testing the recipes and collecting the quotes. Truth to tell, were it not for my publisher's deadline, I could happily have worked on this book for at least another two years. You see, I simply can't help myself, for--as may be the fate of one born on Thanksgiving Day--I am unequivocally hooked on literary grazing.


It has long been reputed that the great Venetian traveler Marco Polo brought the concept of noodles back with him when he returned to Italy from China. Archaeological studies have since proved otherwise: Noodles most likely originated in central Asia, possibly dating back to at least 1000 b.c. We now know, in fact, that this food form existed independently in both Asia and Europe well before Polo's expeditions. And, speaking of those expeditions, several distinguished sinologists now question whether the celebrated traveler ever really made it to China; their investigations suggest that his easternmost destination was in fact Persia. There, it is insinuated, he collected the lore of Kublai Khan and his empire from Persian merchants, the tales from which he purportedly wove the fabric of his acclaimed China travels. According to Paul Levy in the London Observer: "The text Marco Polo is supposed to have dictated to Rusticiano of Pisa, when they were both prisoners at Genoa after his capture in 1298, was not in Latin or the Venetian dialect, but in Provenal. The clincher is that the transliterations of Chinese terms used are always Persian." Oh-oh. Well, does it really matter whether Marco Polo actually visited China? The truth is, the account of his "travels" is colorful, immensely intriguing, and of great value to historians. He's certainly still a hero in my eyes!

. . . the only classical and true way to eat pasta is with gusto.
--James Beard

Italians say that only children, the infirm and the ill-mannered use soupspoons as props for their forks when picking up pasta. They stick the fork into the mass of pasta and twirl it around one or two times until they have a neat amount of pasta wrapped around the tines.
--James Beard

Pasta is always the same, yet different. It has a comforting familiarity, with its pale golden color and chewy, wheaten taste. And then there are all those amusing shapes and the thousands of ways to sauce them. . . .
--James Beard

Macaroni, n. An Italian food made in the form of a hollow tube. It consists of two parts--the tubing and the hole, the latter being the part that digests.
--Ambrose Bierce

Life is a combination of magic and pasta.
--Federico Fellini

There is an inevitable ritual about serving and eating spaghetti . . . eaten as it should be, in varying degrees of longness and a fine uniformity of writhing limpness and buttery richness and accompanying noisy sounds.
--M.F.K. Fisher

Vermicelli: A Paste rolled and broken in the form of worms.
--Samuel Johnson

I might as well confess an un-American loathing for pasta salad . . . most of the bastard, slimy, cooked, pseudo-Italian pastas dished up with bits of ends of vegetables and ham or shrimp swimming in oily vinaigrette or mayonnaise are inedible and tasteless. There is such a thing as adapting foods beyond their natural limitations.
--Barbara Kafka

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.
--Sophia Loren

No man is alone while eating spaghetti--it requires so much attention.
--Christopher Morley

For a plate of spaghetti, he'd leave home. For another woman? Never!
--Adua Pavarotti

Marriage . . . is not merely sharing one's fettuccine but sharing the burden of finding the fettuccine restaurant in the first place.
--Calvin Trillin

When I cook for myself and I'm not feeling so well, I make spaghetti. Not designer pasta. Spaghetti.
--Maggie Waldron

Ah, yes, cold spaghetti eaten at midnight, eaten with your fingers, your body hanging on the open refrigerator door, your bare feet squishing around in whatever doesn't make it to your mouth.
--Maggie Waldron

It's a comfort to always find pasta in the cupboard and garlic and parsley in the garden.
--Alice Waters

Toasts Around the World
Most of the following toasts roughly translate as "good health."

Belgium--Op uw gezonheid
China--Kan bei; Wen lie
Czechoslovakia--Na Zdravi; Nazdar
Finland--Kippis; Maljanne
France--Santé A votre santé
Greece--Eis Igian
Hebrew--L'chaim; Mazel tov
Iceland--Santanka nu
Italy--Salute; Cin cin
Japan--Kampai; Banzai
Netherlands--Proost; Geluch
Poland--Na zdrowie; Vivat
Portugal--A sua saúde; Eviva
Russia--Na zdorovia
Scotland--Hoot mon
United States--Cheers


Pig power. Truffles, which sell for between $800 and $1,600 a pound, are one of the most expensive foods in the world. They're also one of the rarest, and are located by specially trained pigs (dogs, too, but our focus here is pigs), particularly in France's Périgord region. And we're not talking cute little "Babe-like" piggies, we're talking hogs!

Here's how truffle hunting works. Truffles grow 3 to 12 inches underground near tree roots (usually oak, but also chestnut, hazel, and beech), but never beyond the tree's canopy. The truffle hunter (trufficulteur) walks around with his prized keen-snouted pig who, when she detects a truffle, becomes extremely excited and begins to dig. This is where the trufficulteur takes over, gently scraping back the earth, being careful not to touch the truffle with his hands, which would cause the truffle to rot. If the truffle isn't ripe, he carefully reburies it for future harvesting. It's this painstakingly slow, labor-intensive process that makes truffles so expensive.

But back to poor Miss Pig, who's undoubtedly emotionally distraught by this time because she thought the pig of her dreams had just been found. You see, scientists have proven that truffles and male pigs have a rather important common denominator--they both contain androsterone, a sex hormone. The difference is that truffles contain almost twice as much of this pheromone as a male pig. So, here's Miss Pig, strolling nonchalantly along when she gets a whiff of what can only be a boar of massive proportions--a major stud with colossal sex appeal. Naturally, she becomes excited, and begins snorting and digging like crazy only to be yanked rudely away before she can reach the pig of her dreams. Is it any wonder, then, that Miss Pig considers the trufficulteur a pigheaded swine for selling her a pig in a poke when she thought she was headed for hog heaven?

Excerpted from Never Eat More Than You Can Lift, and Other Food Quotes and Quips by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Copyright © 1997 by Sharon Tyler Herbst. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of the Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Sharon Tyler Herbst is the award-winning author of twelve bestselling books on food and wine, including Food Lover's Tiptionary, Food Lover's Companion, and Wine Lover's Companion (coauthored with her husband, Ron Herbst).

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