Simple Food

Appears in

A dreary old cliché has it that “one should eat to live and not live to eat.” It is typical that this imbecile concept, a deliberately fruitless paradox born of the puritan mind, should deny sensuous reaction at either pole, and it is fortunate that neither pole really exists, for man is incapable of being either altogether dumbly bestial or altogether dumbly “mental.”

I have sometimes been accused of thinking of nothing but food and wine—of being bound irreparably to the bestial pole. I do, in fact, think a great deal about food and wine and I would like my readers to share with me the belief that food and wine—that the formalization of gastro-sensory pleasure—must be an essential aspect of the whole life, in which the sensuous-sensual-spiritual elements are so intimately interwoven that the incomplete exploitation of any one can only result in the imperfect opening of the great flower, symbol of the ultimate perfection which is understanding, when all things fall into place (such was the concept, thanks no doubt to its pretty if somewhat pretentious subtitle, “Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante,” that I had hoped and expected would unfold in the pages of La Physiologie du Goût. Those pages revealed little more than the glutton that Carême had early divined in Brillat-Savarin—joined to a pompous and puzzling self-esteem; my resentment and disappointment rankle to this day).