The physiology of taste, by Brillat-Savarin

Meditation XIII.

Gastronomical Tests.

IN the preceding chapter, we have seen that the distinctive characteristics of those who have more pretension than right to the honors of gourmandise, consists in the fact, that, at the best spread table, their eyes are dull and their face inanimate.

They are not worthy of having treasures, when they do not appreciate what is exhibited to them. It, however, was very interesting for us to point them out, and we have sought every where for information on so important a matter, as who should be our guests and our hosts.

We set about this with an anxiety which ensures success, and, in consequence of our perseverance, we are able to present to the corps of amphitryon, gastronomical tests, a discovery which will do honor to the nineteenth century.

By gastronomical tests, we mean dishes of so delicious a flavor that their very appearance excites the gustatory organs of every healthy man. The consequence is, that all those who do not evince desire, and the radiancy of ecstasy, may very properly be set down as unworthy of the honours of the society and the pleasures attached to them.

The method of TESTS duly deliberated on, and examined in the great council, has been described in the golden book, in words of an unchangeable tongue, as follows:

Utcumque ferculum, eximii et bene noti saporis appositum fuerit, fiat autopsia convivoe; et nisi facies ejus ae oculi vertantur ad ecstasim, notetur ut indignus.

This was rendered into the vernacular, by the translator of the grand council, as follows:

“Whenever a dish of a distinguished and good flavor is served, the guests should be attentively watched, and those, the faces of whom do not express pleasure, should be marked as unworthy.”

Tests are relative, and should be proportioned to the various classes of society. All things considered, it should be arranged so as to create admiration and surprise. It is a dynameter, the power of which should increase as we ascend in society. The test for a householder in La Rue Coquenard, would not suit a second clerk, and would be unnoticed at the table of a financier, or a minister.

In the enumeration of the dishes we think worthy of being considered as tests, we will begin at the lowest grade, and will gradually ascend so as to elucidate the theory, so that all may not only use it with benefit, but also invent a new series calculated for the sphere in which they chance to be placed.

We will now give a list of the dishes we think fit to be served as tests; we have divided them into three series of gradual ascents, following the order indicated above.

Gastronomical Tests.

First Series. — Income of 5,000 Francs.

A breast of veal baked in its own juice.

A turkey stuffed with Lyons chestnuts.

Baked pigeons.

Eggs a la neige.

Sourkrout, with sausages dressed with lard, fume de Strasburg.

EXPRESSION. “Peste; that looks well; let us pay our devoirs to it.”

Second Series. — Income 15,000 Francs.

A filet de boeuf pique, and baked in its juice, with pickles.

A quarter of Chevreuil.

Turbot plain.

A Turkey Truffee.

Petits pois.

EXCLAMATION. “My dear sir, this is pleasant indeed!”

Third Series. — Income 30,000 Francs, or More.

A fowl weighing seven pounds, stuffed with truffles, so that it has become a spheroid.

A patte perigord in the form of a bastion.

A cask a la Chambord richly dressed and decorated.

A pike stuffed with craw-fish secundum artum.

A pheasant dressed a la sainte alliance.

Asparagus, large as possible, served up in osmazome.

Two dozen ortolans a la provencale, as the dish is described in the Cook’s Secretary.

A pyramid of sweet meats, flavored with rose and vanilla.

EXPRESSION. “Monsieur, or Monseigneur, your cook is a man of mind. Such dishes we eat only at your house.”

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31