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,
MEDITATION I. THE SENSES,
Number of the Senses,
Action of the Senses,
Perfectness of the Senses,
Powers of the Taste,
Object of the Action of the Senses,
MEDITATION II. TASTE,
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,
MEDITATION III. GASTRONOMY,
Origin of Sciences,
Origin of Gastronomy,
Definition of Gastronomy,
Different objects of Gastronomy,
Utility of Gastronomical Knowledge,
Influence of Gastronomy on Business,
MEDITATION IV. APPETITE,
Definition of Appetite,
MEDITATION V. FOOD IN GERMS—Section First,
Principle of Aliments,
Difference between Fat and Lean,
MEDITATION VI. 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,
MEDITATION VII. THEORY OF FRYING,
MEDITATION VIII. ON THIRST,
Varieties of Thirst,
Causes of Thirst,
MEDITATION IX. ON DRINKS,
Quick effect of Drinks,
MEDITATION X. AN EPISODE ON THE END OF THE WORLD,
MEDITATION XI. ON GOURMANDISE,
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,
MEDITATION XII. GOURMANDS,
All who wish to be are not Gourmands,
Gourmands by Destiny,
Gourmands by Profession,
Men of Letters,
Chevaliers and Abbes,
Longevity of Gourmands,
MEDITATION XIII. GASTRONOMICAL TESTS,
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,
MEDITATION XV. HALTES DE CHASSE,
MEDITATION XVI. ON DIGESTION,
Duty of the Stomach,
Influence of Digestion,
MEDITATION XVII. REPOSE,
Time of Rest,
MEDITATION XVIII. SLEEP,
MEDITATION XIX. DREAMS,
Nature of Dreams,
System of Dr. Gall,
Phenomena of Dreams,
Do as you will be done by,
MEDITATION XX. 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,
MEDITATION XXII. PRESERVATIVE TREATMENT AND CURE OF OBESITY,
Sequel of the Regimen,
Dangers of Acids,
MEDITATION XXIII. THINNESS,
Effects of Thinness,
MEDITATION XXIV. FASTING,
How people used to Fast,
Origin of the removal of Restriction in Fasting,
MEDITATION XXV. EXHAUSTION,
Cure by the Professor,
MEDITATION XXVI. DEATH,
MEDITATION XXVII. PHILOSOPHICAL HISTORY OF THE KITCHEN,
Order of Alimentation,
Discovery of Fire,
Resurrection of Lucullus,
Irruption of the Barbarians,
MEDITATION XXVIII. RESTAURATEURS,
PHYSIOLOGY OF TASTE—Part Second,
VARIETIES, 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 INFINTESIMAL CALCULUS."
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 SCIENCE.
I. The universe would be nothing were it not for life and all that lives must be fed.
II. Animals fill themselves; man eats. The man of mind alone knows how to eat.
III. The destiny of nations depends on the manner in which they are fed.
IV. Tell me what kind of food you eat, and I will tell you what kind of man you are.
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 departure.
VIII. The table is the only place where one does not suffer, from ennui during the first hour.
IX. The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity, than the discovery of a new star.
X. Those persons who suffer from indigestion, or who become drunk, are utterly ignorant of the true principles of eating and drinking.
XI. The order of food is from the most substantial to the lightest.
XII. The order of drinking is from the mildest to the most foamy and perfumed.
XIII. To say that we should not change our drinks is a heresy; the tongue becomes saturated, and after the third glass yields but an obtuse sensation.
XIV. A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman who has lost an eye.
XV. A cook may be taught, but a man who can roast, is born with the faculty.
XVI. The most indispensable quality of a good cook is promptness. It should also be that of the guests.
XVII. To wait too long for a dilatory guest, shows disrespect to those who are punctual.
XVIII. He who receives friends and pays no attention to the repast prepared for them, is not fit to have friends.
XIX. The mistress of the house should always be certain that the coffee be excellent; the master that his liquors be of the first quality.
XX. To invite a person to your house is to take charge of his happiness as long as he be beneath your roof.
DIALOGUE between the author and his friend. (after the usual salutations.)
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 to tell.
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 every library.
AUTHOR. I did. It is the truth—and I would die sooner than deny it.
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 others.
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 RICHERAND.
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 their independence.
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 entitled to.
Doctor Coste said such measures were abominable, and he became angry.
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 discovered.
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 perfumes.
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 great things.
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 less happily.
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 heart.
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 meant:
"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 dictionary.
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 possess.
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 species.
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 species.
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 tasting, etc.
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 day.
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 evening.
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 power.
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 imperceptible spots.
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 of.
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 inconceivable tenuity.
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 creation.
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 their domain.
For instance. Harmony was only discovered about four centuries ago, and that celestial science is to sound what painting is to colors.
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 created harmony.]
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 resonance.
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 whole.
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 lesion.
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 peace.
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 appreciates flavors.
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 himself understood.
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 pain.
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 gastatory apparatus.
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 particles.
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 themselves.
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 dissolved.
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 taste.
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 and perfume.
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 Louis XIV.
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 examination.
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 go.
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 vitality.
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 their absence.
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 lives.
This will be more carefully explained in the chapter we devote to the pleasures of the table, considered as it has been advanced by civilization.
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 importance.
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 first astronomers.
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 powers.
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 they presented.
Such were the circumstances which preceded the invention of gastronomy.
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 agreeable.
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 digest.
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 substances.
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 convivial gossip.
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 fashion.
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 cabinet.
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 alimentation.
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 thus.
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 scarcely lift.
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 laid down.
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 thimble full.
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 restaz."]
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 of France.)
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 usual terms.
The greatest service chemistry has rendered to alimentary science, is the discovery of osmazome, or rather the determination of what it was.
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 flavor.
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.