The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy

Overview

A delightful and hilarious classic about the joys of the table, The Physiology of Taste is the most famous book about food ever written. First published in France in 1825 and continuously in print ever since, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s masterpiece is a historical, philosophical, and epicurean collection of recipes, reflections, and anecdotes on everything and anything gastronomical. Brillat-Savarin—who famously stated “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are”—shrewdly expounds upon culinary ...

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The Physiology of Taste: or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy

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Overview

A delightful and hilarious classic about the joys of the table, The Physiology of Taste is the most famous book about food ever written. First published in France in 1825 and continuously in print ever since, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s masterpiece is a historical, philosophical, and epicurean collection of recipes, reflections, and anecdotes on everything and anything gastronomical. Brillat-Savarin—who famously stated “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are”—shrewdly expounds upon culinary matters that still resonate today, from the rise of the destination restaurant to matters of diet and weight, and in M. F. K. Fisher, whose commentary is both brilliant and amusing, he has an editor with a sensitivity and wit to match his own.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“It takes someone like Brillat-Savarin to remind us that cooking need not be the fraught, perfectionist, slightly paranoid struggle that it has latterly become. His love of food is bound up with a taste for human error and indulgence, and that is why The Physiology of Taste is still the most civilized cookbook ever written.” —The New Yorker

"The Physiology of Taste is about the pleasures of the table—how to eat, when to eat, why to eat—but it is also about much, much more. Along the way, Brillat-Savarin philosophizes, gossips, and recalls past flirtations. . . . High spirited and irreverent, Fisher matches his philosophical meanderings. Her extensive translator's notes, which take up almost a quarter of the book, are funny and scholarly by turns." —San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307390370
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/4/2011
  • Series: Vintage Classics Series
  • Pages: 464
  • Sales rank: 163,885
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755–1826) was a lawyer and the mayor of Belley, France, before he fled the Revolution in 1793. After a brief exile in the United States,  he returned to Paris and was appointed a judge in the court of appeals. He spent the last twenty-five years of his life living peacefully in Paris and writing The Physiology of Taste.
 
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (1908–1992), author of Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, and more than twenty other books about the art of eating well, is widely acknowledged as a pioneer of food writing as a literary genre.

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Read an Excerpt

The book is — what? Does anyone know? Intermittently it is an autobiography, but told principally in dinner anecdotes (except one, which is about a breakfast, but so protracted that it, too, becomes dinner). It is not a cookbook, although the next time you are bestowed with a turbot the size and awkwardness of a small bicycle you will know how to cook it (too big to fit in the oven, the sea creature is effectively steamed in the tub). The difficulty is compounded by the book's opening, which invites us to think of it as something it never becomes. In the first two pages, we learn that a meal without cheese is as incomplete as a woman without an eye, a startling comparison to contemplate. We also learn that a dinner is never boring — at least for the first hour; that a new dish matters more to human happiness than the discovery of a star; that if, at the end of a meal, you are sated and slurring, you do not know how to eat and drink; and, most famously, that you are what you eat, a succinct expression of food and identity repeated so relentlessly that it is now a modern advertising banality. These ''Aphorisms of the Professor'' (''to serve as a preamble to his work and as a lasting foundation for the science of gastronomy'') represent a lifetime of one-liners, the stuff that, revised, scribbled into a notebook, rehearsed and repeated over a fortified beverage, kept the bachelor scholar from ever having to dine alone. But after page 2, the aphorisms disappear. Instead, there is history. Should we trust it? The Professor is not an historian. Or is he? There is science, more science than history, actually a lot of science. Do we dismiss it because we know better? Do we? Who is this guy anyway?

From the Hardcover edition.

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