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Physiology of Tase – Brillat savarin

December 20, 2011

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are.”


Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Dinner Party Guide

The following are Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s suggestions for the makings of a successful dinner party as contained in his Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et à l’ordre du jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un Professeur, membre de plusieurs sociétés littéraires et savantes, or more simply Philosophy of Taste:
1. Let not the number of the company exceed twelve, that the conversation may be constantly general. Athenaeus: Still very good advice if your intention is to have a dinner party conducive to a catholic dialogue. We’ve all been to those large parties where you end up between two people, neither of whom manage to capture your attention for long as you lean forward and strain to hear what you imagine to be much more interesting things being said just a few seats away.
2. Let them be so selected that their occupations are various, and their tastes analogous, and with such points of contact that there will be no need for the odious formality of presentations. Athenaeus: This is good advice for all manner of parties. If the assembled persons are all of a similar interest it is not so much a party as a convention or meeting.
3. Let the dining-room be well lighted, the cloth spotless, and the atmosphere at a temperature from 13-16 degrees C (60-68 degrees F). Athenaeus: I think central heating has made us accostomed to a room a bit warmer than this.
4. Let the men have wit without pretension, and the women be pleasant without being coquettes. Athenaeus: Certainly the advice pertaining to the gentlemen is correct, but I’m a bit less certain if coquettes in their modern incarnation are appropriate or not as guests as I am at a loss as to imagine an acquaintence who might be labeled as such.
5. Let the dishes be exceedingly choice, but few in number; and the wines of the highest quality each in its degree. Athenaeus: This might be the simplest definition of a good host/hostess is one who provides the best possible in food and beverage for their guests.
6. Let the order of service be from the more substantial dishes to the lighter, and the simpler wines to the most perfumed. Athenaeus: This is a foreign concept for an American palette, but a novel idea. Have you ever served, or been served your courses from meat to fish to salad to dessert?
7. Let the meal proceed without undue haste, since dinner is the last business of the day; and let the guests consider themselves as travellers about to reach a shared destination together. Athenaeus: I like this so much I’m considering printing the quote on my next dinner invitations.
8. Let the coffee be hot, and the liquors chosen with special care. Athenaeus: Not much to be said here.
9. Let the drawing room be large enough to admit a game of cards for those who cannot do without it, while leaving ample room for post-prandial conversation. Athenaeus: An after dinner game is certainly the easy way to amuse your guests, though a stimulating conversation over coffee and after dinner drinks is certainly the ideal.
10. Let the guest be detained by the charms of society, and animated by the hope that the evening will yet develop. Athenaeus: A polite warning against boredom.
11. Let the tea not be too strong, the toast skillfully buttered, and the punch carefully prepared. Athenaeus: This is tradition I was previously unaware of and do not anticipate the resecutation of.
12. Let none leave before eleven o’clock, but let all be in bed by midnight. Athenaeus: A good general rule for host and guest alike.

Brillat-Savarin, while not a chef, has been one of the most influential food writers of all time. He is known for his book Physiologie du Goût (“The Physiology of Taste.”)

Brillat-Savarin’s goal was to raise cooking to a level of true science. He wrote in a era — the early 1800s — when “taste” in music, literature and art was thought to be something objective that educated people could share and agree on. In his view, if you put a well-prepared dish in front of someone, how he or she reacted told you not whether the dish was good or not (because you already knew that it was), but rather how educated the person was. In his mind, excellence was not based on what the French court might say, or what celebrity chefs might dictate, but rather on the intrinsic quality of ingredients prepared with care.

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.

Link to the online edition of the classical book:



Brillat-Savarin cheese

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Country of origin France
Region Normandy
Source of milk Cows
Texture Soft
Dimensions 4 cm x 12-13 cm
Aging time 1-2 weeks

Brillat-Savarin is a soft, white-crusted cow’s milk cheese with at least 75% fat in dry matter (roughly 40% overall), named after the 18th century French gourmet and political figure Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. The cheese was created in the 1930s by cheese-maker Henri Androuët.

Brillat-Savarin is produced all year round in Burgundy and Normandy. It comes in 12-13 cm wheels and approximately 4 cm thick, and is aged for one to two weeks. It is also available as a fresh cheese (non affine) that resembles rich cream cheese.

It is a triple cream Brie that is luscious, creamy and faintly sour. It goes well with champagne. Pairing with red wines is difficult, as any mushroominess or “moldy” taste will bring out the tannins of the wine. Brillat Savarin is also quite salty when ripe, which may disturb the taste of red wine. It does pair well with Pale Ale and Champagne. The carbonation wipes the fattiness from the palate and the malts enhance the creaminess of the cheese.


In Hong Kong you can order this cheese and many other French cheeses, pasteurized and full cream on Frenchgourmethk on line food shop. The best deals are online!

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