jean anthelme brillat-savarin


  • [38] Two translations were published in Britain during the 19th century: the first, which set a pattern for giving the book a new title, was The Handbook of Dining; Or, How
    to Dine, Theoretically, Philosophically and Historically Considered, translated by Leonard Francis Simpson (1859).

  • [4] In the household and region in which Brillat-Savarin grew up, good food was taken seriously;[5] his relation and fellow lawyer Lucien Tendret [fr] wrote: No region offers
    a greater variety of provisions for the table.

  • [15] He later had fond memories of his time in America: The happiness I enjoyed there was chiefly due to the fact that from the day of my arrival among the Americans, I spoke
    their language, dressed like them, took care not to be wittier than they, and praised all their ways; thus repaying the hospitality they showed me by a form of condescension which I consider essential and which I commend to all who may find
    themselves in a similar position.

  • [53] The second and smaller part of the main text consists of “Miscellanea”, including many anecdotes on a gastronomic theme such as the bishop who mischievously presented
    his eager guests with fake asparagus made of wood, and memories of the author’s exile.

  • [42] He also wrote a history of duelling, and what Drayton calls “a number of rather racy short stories, most of which are lost”, although one, Voyage à Arras, remains extant.

  • He spent nearly three years in the United States, teaching French and playing the violin to support himself, before returning to France when it became safe to do so, resuming
    his career as a lawyer, and rising to the top of the French judiciary.

  • [64] Despite his concern about avoiding fattening foods, Brillat-Savarin posthumously came under fire from Elizabeth David for his insistence that “dessert without cheese
    is like a pretty woman with only one eye”.

  • [19] American exile[edit] John Street Theatre, New York, where Brillat-Savarin earned a living as a violinist Brillat-Savarin remained in the US for nearly two years, supporting
    himself by giving French and violin lessons.

  • [29] In a study of Brillat-Savarin published in 1892, Lucien Tendret, one of his successors as mayor of Belley and one of the founders of L’Académie des Gastronomes, related
    a story of Brillat-Savarin’s playing: One day in the winter of 1808 he had come to dine at the home of one of his friends in the Faubourg Saint-Germain.

  • [11] Riots broke out in Grenoble in June 1788 in protest against the abolition of traditional and supposedly guaranteed local freedoms, and it became clear that effective
    government had so seriously collapsed that Louis XVI would have to summon a meeting of the Estates General, the closest approximation in Ancien Régime France to a national parliament; it had not met since 1614, and in the words of the historian
    Karen Diane Haywood it “generally met only in dire situations when the king and his ministers had no other choice”.

  • She looked to him for his wise advice, and Drayton surmises that he was in love with her: “So at least we may assume from the references to her in his great work, and from
    the dedication he wrote in the copy he sent her just before he died”: Madame, receive kindly and read indulgently the work of an old man.

  • The Physiology of Taste was the product of many years’ writing in the author’s spare time.

  • In 1787 he first visited the royal residence, the Château de Versailles; his purpose may have been to seek help for the poor of his region, but he left no details of his mission.

  • Its contents were well known to his friends, and he finally yielded to their calls for him to publish it.

  • “[62] By his choice of title Brillat-Savarin seems to have been responsible for a temporary change in French writers’ use of the word physiologie, although he himself used
    it literally, in the sense of “a scientific analysis of the workings of living beings”.

  • They are preceded by an opening section headed “Aphorisms”, consisting of twenty short assertions about gastronomic topics, such as “Animals feed: man eats: only the man of
    intellect knows how to eat” and “The pleasures of the table belong to all times and all ages, to every country and every day; they go hand in hand with all our other pleasures, outlast them, and remain to console us for their loss”.

  • [22] One of his favourite memories of his American stay was an evening at Little’s Tavern in New York when he and two other French émigrés beat two Englishmen in a competitive
    drinking bout, in which they all consumed large quantities of claret, port, Madeira and punch.

  • [n 3] The book has been in print in France continuously since it first appeared in 1825.

  • Published weeks before his death in 1826, the work established him alongside Grimod de La Reynière as founder of the genre of the gastronomic essay.

  • [23] Return to France[edit] Rostaing grew tired of life in the US and returned to France in May 1795.

  • [31] Later years[edit] For the rest of his life Brillat-Savarin led a contented existence, carrying out his judicial functions conscientiously, entertaining his friends, and

  • He did so anonymously, although the author’s name was soon widely known.

  • [13] In a biographical sketch Anne Drayton observes “there was nothing of the revolutionary in his make-up”, and when the Estates General reformed as the National Constituent
    Assembly he made speeches opposing the division of France into eighty-three administrative departments, the introduction of trial by jury and the abolition of capital punishment.

  • [9] Ancien Régime and revolution[edit] Opening of the Estates General, 1789 After graduating in 1778 Brillat-Savarin returned to Belley and practised law, making his first
    court appearance in September.

  • Drayton comments that by this time Brillat-Savarin had obviously acquired a certain reputation as a gourmet, “for he was promptly put in charge of catering for the general
    staff, a task which he performed to the delighted satisfaction of his fellow officers”.

  • [25] He hoped, nonetheless, to return to France, not least because he was running short of funds, and he sailed for home, arriving at the end of August 1796.

  • One of the guests, the Abbé de Bombelles, recently promoted to the bishopric of Amiens, took to the piano, M. Brillat-Savarin took a violin and the dances began, led by this
    unique orchestra consisting of a bishop and a judge of the supreme court.

  • [3] Brillat-Savarin learned from friends and acquaintances of his parents many unusual things about food, including a three-day method of cooking spinach, how to eat small
    game birds like ortolans, and how to prepare chocolate for drinking.

  • When dinner was over, the young girls had a strong desire to dance, but none of them could play the music.

  • The first English version, by Fayette Robinson, was published in the US in 1854 under the title The Physiology of Taste: Or, Transcendental Gastronomy.

  • Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (French pronunciation: ], (2 April 1755 – 2 February 1826) was a French lawyer and politician, who, as the author of Physiologie du goût (The
    Physiology of Taste), became celebrated for his culinary reminiscences and reflections on the craft and science of cookery and the art of eating.

  • [13][14] At the end of his term of office in September 1791 Brillat-Savarin returned home as president of the civil tribunal of the new department of Ain, but as politics
    in Paris became increasingly radical, with the abolition of the monarchy, he was persona non grata with the new regime, and was dismissed from his post for royalist sympathies.

  • As we have said already, all animals that live on farinaceous food grow fat willy-nilly, and man is no exception to the universal law.

  • It was published in December 1825, two months before his death.

  • [39][n 4] It was followed by Gastronomy as a Fine Art: or, The Science of Good Living (1879), in a translation by R. E.

  • Although founded as a religious institution and with many of its staff in holy orders, the college was secular in outlook; theology was not in the curriculum and the library
    contained works on agriculture and science as well as books by La Rochefoucauld, Montesquieu, Rabelais, Voltaire and Rousseau.

  • [15] For nearly a year he strove to protect his city from the excesses of the revolution, but when the Reign of Terror began in September 1793 he felt increasingly at risk
    of arrest and execution.

  • [43][n 5] A new English translation by Anne Drayton was published in 1970 under the title The Philosopher in the Kitchen;[45] this version was reissued with a new title, The
    Pleasures of the Table, in 2011.

  • Drayton comments that some of them were graced by the presence of his beautiful cousin, Juliette Récamier, who is mentioned in several places in Physiologie du goût.

  • [15] He also played first violin in America’s only professional orchestra, at the John Street Theatre, New York.

  • [37] Title page of Physiologie du goût with a portrait of the author, 1848 edition Translations into foreign languages followed.

  • Jean Anthelme was the eldest of the couple’s eight children; of his two brothers, Xavier followed into the legal profession and Frédéric became an army officer.

  • [36] Works Physiologie du goût[edit] The full title of the work for which Brillat-Savarin is known is .

  • [16] He later stayed with relations in Moudon, from whom he learnt his celebrated and later controversial recipe for fondue.


Works Cited

[‘1. According to Elizabeth David, “Brillat-Savarin’s famous fondue … is really a cream of eggs and cheese (not, be it noted, scrambled eggs and cheese) and has been rejected, I fancy, as being unauthentic either because it is more difficult to cook
correctly than the Swiss version or because it is the cheese purveyors rather than the egg-marketeers who have been on the job”.[18]
2. ^ Turkeys had been familiar in France since the early 16th century, but were farmed there rather than wild, as
in their native America.[21]
3. ^ “The physiology of taste, or, Meditations of transcendent gastronomy; a theoretical, historical and topical work, dedicated to the gastronomes of Paris by a professor, member of several literary and scholarly societies”
4. ^
In later editions the title of this translation was changed to Handbook of Dining: or Corpulency and Leanness Scientifically Considered.[40]
5. ^ Fisher said that her translation of Brillat-Savarin was her own favourite of her many books: “I like
it, I respect it. I did it because his French was so good. It was so pure, so not effusive. He was just straight good prose.”[44]
6. ^ In the original French, Brillat-Savarin writes “Un dessert sans fromage est une belle à qui il manque un oeil”[65]
– “a dessert without cheese is a pretty woman who lacks an eye” – but the customary English rendition, used by Drayton and earlier translators reads “… is like a…” rather than “… is a…”[66]
7. Brillat-Savarin, p. 13
8. ^ MacDonogh, p.
9. ^ Jump up to:a b Drayton, p. 7
10. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 17–18
11. ^ Drayton, p. 8
12. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 24–25
13. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 22–23
14. ^ Boissel, p. 27
15. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 32–33
16. ^ MacDonogh, p. 37
17. ^ MacDonogh, p. 44
18. ^
Haywood, p. 23
19. ^ Jump up to:a b Drayton, p. 9
20. ^ Boissel, p. 73
21. ^ Jump up to:a b c MacDonogh, p. 3
22. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 112–113
23. ^ MacDonogh, p. 114
24. ^ David, p. 157
25. ^ MacDonogh, p. 115
26. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981),
pp. 341–342
27. ^ Davidson, pp. 809–810
28. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), pp. 80–81
29. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), pp. 306–308
30. ^ MacDonogh, p. 124
31. ^ Quoted in MacDonogh, p. 132
32. ^ Jump up to:a b MacDonogh, pp. 126–127
33. ^ MacDonogh,
p. 134
34. ^ Lok, p. 124
35. ^ Jump up to:a b Drayton, p. 10
36. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 141–142
37. ^ MacDonogh, pp. 149, 164 and 171
38. ^ MacDonogh, p. 9
39. ^ Tendret, pp. 41–42
40. ^ Drayton, pp. 10–11
41. ^ Jump up to:a b c Drayton,
p. 11
42. ^ MacDonogh, p. 221
43. ^ Mennell, p. 268.
44. ^ The Physiology of Taste: Or, Transcendental Gastronomy, 1854
45. ^ The Handbook of Dining, 1859
46. ^ Handbook of Dining: or Corpulency and Leanness Scientifically Considered, 1865
47. ^
Gastronomy as a Fine Art, 1879
48. ^ Jump up to:a b Uncredited author of introduction. “The World of the Senses and the Nature of Taste”, New England Review Vol. 30, No. 4 (2009–10), pp. 181–194 (subscription required)
49. ^ Jump up to:a b c Davidson,
pp. 106–107
50. ^ Fisher, p. 54
51. ^ The Philosopher in the Kitchen, 1970
52. ^ The Pleasures of the Table, 2011
53. ^ Physiologie des Geschmacks, 1865
54. ^ Fiziologija vkusa, 1867
55. ^ Fisiología del gusto, 1869
56. ^ Smakens fysiologi,
57. ^ La Fisiologia Del Gusto, 1914
58. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), pp. 13–14
59. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), pp. 5–6
60. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), pp. 317–318; and 338–344
61. ^ Voyage à Arras, Dynamo, Pierre Aelberts, Liège 1950.
62. ^
Masui and Yamada, p. 257
63. ^ Montagné, p. 50
64. ^ Montagné, p. 76
65. ^ “Savoy Tribute to Brillat-Savarin”, The Daily News, 27 January 1926, p. 5; “The Centenary of Brillat-Savarin: Memorial Banquet”, The Times, 2 February 1926, p. 13; and
“En l’honneur de Brillat-Savarin”, Le Figaro, 3 February 1926, p. 3
66. ^ “Avenue Brillat-Savarin”; and “Rue Brillat-Savarin”, Google Maps. Retrieved 25 May 2023
67. ^ Mennell, p. 267
68. ^ Lane, Anthony (10 December 1995). “Look Back in Hunger”.
The New Yorker.
69. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), p. 208
70. ^ Strandberg, Timo. (2005). Roots of the Atkins diet. British Medical Journal 330 (7483): 132; and Bray, p. 31
71. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1852), p. 8
72. ^ Brillat-Savarin (1981), p. 13;
and Aphorism XIV in Robinson’s translation
73. ^ David, p. 178
74. ^ Charlton, William. “Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme”, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford University Press, 2005 (subscription required)
2. Boissel, Thierry (1989).
Brillat-Savarin, 1755–1826: un chevalier candide (in French). Paris: Presses de la Renaissance. ISBN 978-2-85-616529-4.
3. Bray, George A. (2011). A Guide to Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome: Origins and Treatment. Boca Ralton: CRC Press. ISBN
4. Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme (1852). Physiologie du goût (in French). Paris: Alphonse Pigoreau. OCLC 1040260000.
5. Brillat-Savarin, Jean Anthelme (1981). The Philosopher in the Kitchen. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-046157-2.
6. David,
Elizabeth (1986) [1984]. An Omelette and a Glass of Wine. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-046721-5.
7. Davidson, Alan (1999). The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-211579-9.
8. Drayton, Anne (1981). “Introduction”.
The Philosopher in the Kitchen. London: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-046157-2.
9. Fisher, M. F. K. (1992). Conversations with M. F. K. Fisher. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. OCLC 1193399350.
10. Haywood, Karen Diane (2017). The French Revolution:
The Power of the People. New York: Lucent Press. ISBN 978-1-53-456051-2.
11. Lok, Matthijs (2023). Europe Against Revolution: Conservatism, Enlightenment, and the Making of the Past. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-887215-3.
12. MacDonogh,
Giles (1992). Brillat-Savarin: The Judge and his Stomach. London: John Murray. ISBN 978-0-71-954711-9.
13. Masui, Kazuko; Tomoko Yamada (2005). French Cheeses. London: Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 978-1-40-531211-0.
14. Mennell, Stephen (1996). All
Manners of Food: Eating and Taste in England and France from the Middle Ages to the Present (second ed.). Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-63-113244-8.
15. Montagné, Prosper (1976). Larousse gastronomique. London: Hamlyn. OCLC 1285641881.
16. Tendret,
Lucien (1892). La table au pays de Brillat-Savarin (in French). Belley: L. Bailly fils. OCLC 1040244307.
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