The physiology of taste, by Brillat-Savarin

Meditation VI.

Food in Germs.

Section Second.


WHEN I began to write, my table of contents was already prepared; I have advanced slowly, however, because a portion of my time is consecrated to serious labors.

During this interval of time much of my matter has escaped my memory, or been wrested from me. Elementary books on chemistry or materia medica have been put into the hands of every body, and things I expected to teach for the first time, have become popular. For instance, I had devoted many pages to the chemistry of the pot-au-feu, the substance of which is found in many books recently published.

Consequently, I had to revise this part of my book, and have so condensed it that it is reduced to a few elementary principles, to theories which cannot be too widely propagated, and to sundry observations, the fruits of a long experience, which I trust will be new to the majority of my readers.

Section I. Pot–Au–Feu, Potage, Etc.

Pot-au-feu is a piece of beef, intended to be cooked in boiling water, slightly salted so as to extract all the soluble parts.

Bouillon is the fluid which remains after the operation.

Bouilli is the flesh after it has undergone the operation.

Water dissolves at first a portion of the osmazome; then the albumen coagulates at 50 degrees Reaumur, and forms the foam we see. The rest of the osmazome, with the extractive part of juice, and finally a portion of the wrapping of the fibres detached by the continuity of ebullition.

To have good bouillon, the water must be heated slowly, and the ebullition must be scarcely perceptible, so that the various particles necessarily dissolved, may unite ultimately and without trouble.

It is the custom to add to bouillon, vegetable or roots, to enhance the taste, and bread or pates to make it more nourishing. Then it is what is called potage.

Potage is a healthy food, very nourishing, and suits every body; it pleases the stomach and prepares it for reception and digestion. Persons threatened with obesity should take bouillon alone.

All agree that no where is potage made so well as in France, and in my travels I have been able to confirm this assertion. Potage is the basis of French national diet, and the experience of centuries has perfected it.

Section II. Bouilli.

Bouilli is a healthful food, which satisfies hunger readily, is easily digested, but which when eaten alone restores strength to a very small degree, because in ebullition the meat has lost much of its animalizable juices.

We include in four categories the persons who eat bouilli.

1. Men of routine, who eat it because their fathers did, and who, following this practice implicitly, expect to be imitated by their children.

2. Impatient men, who, abhorring inactivity at the table, have contracted the habit of attacking at once whatever is placed before them.

3. The inattentive, who eat whatever is put before them, and look upon their meals as a labor they have to undergo. All that will sustain them they put on the same level, and sit at the table as the oyster does in his bed.

4. The voracious, who, gifted with an appetite which they seek to diminish, seek the first victim they can find to appease the gastric juice, which devours them, and wish to make it serve as a basis to the different envois they wish to send to the same destination.

Professors of gastronomy never eat bouilli, from respect to the principles previously announced, that bouilli is flesh without the juices. *

[* This idea which began to make its impression on bouilli has disappeared. It is replaced by a roasted filet, a turbot, or a matelote.]

Section III. Fowls.

I am very fond of second courses, and devoutly believe that the whole gallinaceous family was made to enrich our larders and to deck our tables.

From the quail to the turkey, whenever we find a fowl of this class, we are sure to find too, light aliment, full of flavor, and just as fit for the convalescent as for the man of the most robust health.

Which one of us, condemned to the fare of the fathers of the desert, would not have smiled at the idea of a well-carved chicken’s wing, announcing his rapid rendition to civilized life?

We are not satisfied with the flavor nature has given to gallinaceous fowls, art has taken possession of them, and under the pretext of ameliorating, has made martyrs of them. They have not only been deprived of the means of reproduction, but they have been kept in solitude and darkness, and forced to eat until they were led to an unnatural state of fatness.

It is very true that this unnatural grease is very delicious, and that this damnable skill gives them the fineness and succulence which are the delight of our best tables.

Thus ameliorated, the fowl is to the kitchen what the canvass is to painters. To charlatans it is the cap of Fortunatus, and is served up boiled, roasted, fried, hot, cold, whole or dismembered, with or without sauce, broiled, stuffed, and always with equal success.

Three portions of old France disputed for the honor of furnishing the best fowls, viz: Caux, Mans, and Bresse.

In relation to capons, and about this there is some doubt, the one on the table always seeming the best. Bresse seems, however, to have pre-eminence in pullets, for they are round as an apple. It is a pity they are so rare in Paris!

Section IV. The Turkey.

The turkey is certainly one of the most glorious presents made by the new world to the old.

Those persons who always wish to know more than others, say that the turkey was known to the ancients, and was served up at the wedding feast of Charlemagne. They say it is an error to attribute the importation to the Jesuits. To these paradoxes but two things can be opposed:

1st. The name of the bird proves its origin, for at one time America was called the West Indies.

2d. The form of the bird is altogether foreign.

A well informed man cannot be mistaken about it.

Though already perfectly satisfied, I made much deep research in the matter. I will not inflict my studies on my readers, but will only give them the results:

1. The turkey appeared in Europe about the end of the seventeenth century.

2. That it was imported by the Jesuits who sent a large number especially to a farm they had near Bouges.

3. That thence they spread gradually over France, and in many localities a turkey to this day is called a Jesuit.

4. Only in America has the turkey been found in a wild state, (it is unknown in Africa.)

5. That in the farms of North America, where it is very common, it has two origins, either from eggs which have been found and hatched or from young turkeys caught in the woods. The consequence is they are in a state of nature and preserve almost all their original plumage.

Overcome by this evidence I bestow on the good fathers a double portion of gratitude, for they imported the Quinquina yet known as “Jesuit’s bark.”

The same researches informed us that the turkey gradually became acclimated in France. Well informed observers have told me that about the middle of the last century of twenty young turkeys scarcely ten lived, while now fourteen out of every twenty mature. The spring rains are most unfortunate to them; the large drops of rain striking on their tender heads destroy them.


The turkey is the largest, and if not the finest, at least the most highly flavored of the gallinaceous family.

It has also the advantage of collecting around it every class of society.

When the virgin dresses, and farmers of our countries wish to regale themselves in the long winter evenings, what do they roast before the fire of the room in which the table is spread? a turkey.

When the mechanic, when the artist, collects a few friends to enjoy a relief which is the more grateful because it is the rarer; what is one of the dishes always put on the table? a turkey stuffed with Lyons sausage and with chestnuts of Lyons.

In the highest gastronomical circles, in the most select reunions, where politics yield to dissertations on the taste, for what do people wait? What do they wish for? a dinde truffe at the second course. My secret memoirs tell me that its flavor has more than once lighted up most diplomatic faces.

Financial Influence of the Turkey.

The importation of turkeys became the cause of a great addition to the public fortune, and occasioned a very considerable commerce.

By raising turkeys the farmers were able the more surely to pay their rents. Young girls often acquired a very sufficient dowry, and towns-folk who wished to eat them had to pay round prices for them.

In a purely financial point of view turkeys demand much attention.

I have reason to believe, that between the first of November and the end of February, three hundred dindon truffees are consumed per diem. The sum total is 30,000 turkeys.

The price of every turkey in that condition is at least twenty francs, and the sum of the whole is not less than 720,000 francs — a very pretty sum of money. One must add a similar sum for the fowls, pheasants, pullets and partridges, suffered in the same way, and which are every day exhibited in the provision shops, as a punishment for beholders who are too poor to buy them.

Exploit of the Professor.

While I was living at Hartford, in Connecticut, I was lucky enough to kill a wild turkey. This exploit deserves to be transmitted to posterity, and I tell it with especial complaisance as I am myself the hero.

An American farmer had invited me to hunt on his grounds; he lived in the remotest part of the State, * and promised me partridges, grey squirrels and wild turkeys. ** He also permitted me to bring a friend or two if I pleased.

[* Brillat–Savarin uses the French words “derrieres de l’etat” and translates them in English, in parenthesis “Backwoods.”]

[** He also translates in the same manner “dindes sauvages” welp cocks.]

One fine day in October, 1794, therefore, with a friend, I set out with the hope of reaching the farm of Mr. Bulow, five mortal leagues from Hartford, before night.

Though the road was hardly traced, we arrived there without accident, and were received with that cordial hospitality expressed by acts, for before we had been five minutes on the farm, dogs, horses and men were all suitably taken care of.

About two hours were consumed in the examination of the farm and its dependencies. I would describe all this if I did not prefer to display to the reader the four buxom daughters of Mr. Bulow, to whom our arrival was a great event.

Their ages were from sixteen to twenty-four, and there was so much simplicity in their persons, so much activity and abandon, that every motion seemed full of grace.

After our return from walking we sat around a well furnished table. A superb piece of corned beef, a stewed goose, and a magnificent leg of mutton, besides an abundance of vegetables and two large jugs of cider, one at each end of the table, made up our bill of fare.

When we had proven to our host, that in appetite at least, we were true huntsmen, we began to make arrangements for our sport. He told us where we would find game, and gave us land-marks to guide us on our return, not forgetting farm-houses where we could obtain refreshments.

During this conversation the ladies had prepared excellent tea, of which we drank several cups, and were then shown into a room with two beds, where exercise and fatigue procured us a sound sleep.

On the next day we set out rather late, and having come to the end of the clearings made by Mr. Bulow, I found myself in a virgin forest for the first time. The sound of the axe had never been heard there.

I walked about with delight, observing the blessings and ravages of time which creates and destroys, and I amused myself by tracing all the periods on the life of an oak since the moment when its two leaves start from the ground, until it leaves but a long black mark which is the dust of its heart.

My companion, Mr. King, reproached me for my moodiness, and we began the hunt. We killed first some of those pretty grey partridges which are so round and so tender. We then knocked down six or seven grey squirrels, highly esteemed in America, and at last were fortunate enough to find a flock of turkeys.

They rose one after the other, flying rapidly and crying loudly. Mr. King fired on the first and ran after it. The others were soon out of shot. The most sluggish, of all arose at last, not ten paces from me. It flew through an opening, I fired and it fell dead.

One must be a sportsman to conceive the extreme pleasure this shot caused me. I siezed on the superb bird and turned it over and over for a quarter of an hour, until I heard my companion’s voice calling for assistance. I hurried to him and found that he called me to aid him in looking for a turkey he claimed to have killed, but which had disappeared.

I put my dog on the scent but he led us into an under growth, so thick and thorny that a snake could scarcely penetrate it; I had then to give up the search, and my companion was in a bad humor all day long.

The rest of the day scarcely deserves the honors of printing. On our return we lost ourselves in boundless woods, and we were in not a little danger of having to stay out all night, when the silvery tones of Mr. Bulow’s daughters, and the deep bass of their father, who had come to look for us, guided us home.

The four sisters were fully armed with clean dresses, new ribbons, pretty hats, and so carefully shod that it was evident that they had formed a high opinion of us. I tried to make myself agreeable to the one of the ladies who took my arm, a thing she did as naturally as if it had belonged to her jure conjugali.

When we reached the farm supper was ready, but before we sat down to the table we drew near to a bright and brilliant fire which had been lighted for us, though the season did not indicate that such a a precaution was necessary. We found it very comfortable, fatigued as we were, and were rested as if by enchantment.

This custom doubtless comes from the Indians who always have a fire in their huts. It may be, this is a tradition of St. Francis de Sales, who said that fire was good eleven months of the year (non liquet).

We ate as if we were famished; a large bowl of punch enabled us to finish the evening, and a conversation, which our host made perfectly free, led us far into the night.

We spoke of the war of Independence, in which Mr. Bulow * had served as a field officer of M. de La Fayette, who every day becomes greater in the eyes of the Americans, who always designate him as “the Marquis” of agriculture, which at that time enriched the United States, and finally of my native land, which I loved the more because I was forced to leave it.

[* The M. Bulow of whom Savarin speaks, is none other than Lieut. Col. Bellows of the Connecticut Line, many of whose relations yet remain in the Valley of the Connecticut.]

When wearied of conversation the father would say to his eldest daughter, “Maria, give us a song.” She without any embarrassment sung the American national airs. The complaints of Mary Stuart and of Andre, all popular in America. Maria had taken a few lessons, and in that remote country passed for a virtuosa; her singing though, derived its charm from the quality of her voice, which was at once clear, fresh and accentuated.

On the next day, in spite of Mr. Bulow’s persuasions, we set out. I had duties to discharge; and while the horses were being prepared, Mr. Bulow took me aside and used these remarkable words.

“You see in me, sir, a happy man, if there be one under heaven; all that you see here is derived from my own property. My stockings were knit by my daughters, and my cloths were furnished by my flocks. They also, with my garden, furnish me with an abundance of healthy food. The greatest eulogium of our government is, that in the State of Connecticut there are a thousand farmers as well satisfied as I am, the doors of whom have no locks.

“Taxes are almost nothing, and as long as they be paid any one can sleep calmly. Congress favors national industry as much as it can, and merchants are always ready to take from us whatever we wish to sell. I have ready money for a long time, for I have just sold at twenty-four dollars a barrel, flour I usually receive eight for.

“All this is derived from the liberty we have acquired, and established on good laws. I am master of my own house; and you will not be astonished when you know that we never fear the sound of the drum, and, except on the 4th of July, the glorious anniversary of our Independence, neither soldiers, uniforms, nor bayonets are seen.”

On my way back I seemed absorbed by profound reflection. Perhaps the reader may think I mused on my host’s parting words; I had very different thoughts, however, for I was studying how I should cook my turkey. I was in some trouble, for I feared I would not find all I needed at Hartford, and wished to make a trophy of my spolia opima.

I make a painful sacrifice in suppressing the details of the profound science I exhibited in the preparation of an entertainment, to which I invited several friends. Suffice it to say that the partridge wings were served en papillote, and the grey squirrels stewed in madeira.

The turkey, which was our only roast dish, was charming to the sight, flattering to the sense of smell, and delicious to taste. Therefore, until the last fragment was eaten, there were heard around the table, “Very good;” “Exceedingly good;” “Dear sir; what a nice piece.” * By game we mean all wild animals which are fit to eat, and live in a state of natural liberty.

[* The flesh of the wild turkey is more highly colored and more perfumed than the domestic fowl. I am glad to learn that my amiable colleague, M. Bosc, had killed many in Carolina, which he found excellent, and far better than those in Europe. He therefore recommends that they be allowed the largest liberty, that they be driven into the woods and fields, to enhance the flavor and bring it as nearly as possible back to the original species. — Annales d’Agriculture cah. du 28 Fevr. 1821.]

We say fit to eat, because many animals which are in a state of nature are not fit to eat. Such as foxes, crows, pies, wild-cats, etc. They are called in French Betes puantes vermin.

Game is divided into three series.

The first contains all birds, from the grive to the smallest of the feathered tribe.

The second ascends from the rail to the snipe, partridge, and pheasant, including the rabbit and the hare; it is divided into three categories, of the marsh, hairy, and feathered.

The third, which bears the name of venison, is composed of the wild-boar, kid, and all other horny-footed cattle.

Game is one of the great luxuries of our tables; it is a healthy, warm, highly-flavored and high tasted flesh, easily digested, whenever one is hungry.

These qualities, however, are not so inherent as not to a certain degree to depend on the skill of the cook. Put some water, salt and beef into a pot, and you can obtain from them a very good soup. Substitute venison for the beef, and the result will not be fit to eat. Butcher’s meat, in this respect, has the advantage. Under the manipulation, however, of a skilful cook, game undergoes various modifications and transformations, and furnishes the greater portions of the dishes of the transcendental kitchen.

Game derives, also, a great portion of its value from the soil on which it is fed. The taste of a Perigord partridge is very different from that of one from Sologne, and the hare killed in the vicinity of Paris is a very different dish from one shot on the hills of Valromey or upper Dauphiny. The latter is probably the most perfumed of all beasts.

Among small birds, beyond all doubt, the best is the “beccafico.”

It becomes at least as fat as the red-throat or the ortolan, and nature has besides given it a slight bitterness, and a peculiar and exquisite perfume, which enables it to fill and delight all the gustatory organs. Were the beccafico as large as a pheasant, an acre of land would be paid for it.

It is a pity this bird is so rare, that few others than those who live in the southern departments of France, know what it is. * Few people know how to eat small birds. The following method was imparted confidentially to me by the Canon Charcot, a gourmand by profession, and a perfect gastronome, thirty years before the word gastronomy was invented:

[* I am inclined to think the bird is utterly unknown in America. — TRANSLATOR.]

Take a very fat bird by the bill and sprinkle it with salt, take out the entrailles, I mean gizzard, liver, etc., and put it whole in your mouth. Chew it quickly, and the result will be a juice abundant enough to permeate the whole organ. You will then enjoy a pleasure unknown to the vulgar.

“Odi profanum vulgus et arceo.” HORACE.

The quail, of all game properly so-called, is the nicest and the most pleasant. A very fat quail is pleasant both to eat, see, and smell. Whenever it is either roasted, or served en papillote, a great folly is committed, because its perfume is very volatile, and when ever in contact with a liquid, its flavor is dissolved and lost.

The snipe is a charming bird, but few people know all its charms. It is in its glory only when it has been cooked under the huntsman’s eyes; and the huntsman must have killed it. Then the roast is perfected according to rule, and the mouth is inundated with pleasure.

Above the preceding, and above all others, the pheasant should be placed. Few mortals, however, know exactly how to cook it.

A pheasant eaten only a week after its death is not good as a partridge or a pullet, for its merit consists in its aroma.

Science has considered the expansion of this aroma, experience has utilised science, so that a pheasant ready for the spit is a dish fit for the most exalted gourmands.

In the varieties will be found a recipe for roasting a pheasant, a la Sainte Alliance. The time has come when this method, hitherto concentrated in a small circle of friends, should be made known for the benefit of humanity. A pheasant with truffles is not good as one would be apt to think it. The bird is too dry to actuate the tubercle, and the scent of the one and the perfume of the other when united neutralize each other — or rather do not suit.

Section VI. Fish.

Savants, in other respects orthodox, have maintained that ocean was the common cradle of all that exists, and that man himself sprang from the sea and owes his actual habits to the influence of the air, and the mode of life he has been obliged to adopt.

Be this as it may, it is at least certain, that the waters contain an immense quantity of beings of all forms and sizes, which possess vitality in very different proportions, and according to mode very different from that of warm blooded animals.

It is not less true that water has ever presented an immense variety of aliments, and that in the present state of science it introduces to our table the most agreeable variety.

Fish, less nutritious than flesh and more succulent than vegetables, is a mezzo termine, which suits all temperments and which persons recovering from illness may safely eat.

The Greeks and Romans, though they had not made as much progress as we have in the art of seasoning fish, esteemed it very highly, and were so delicate that they could even tell where it had been taken.

Large fish ponds were maintained, and the cruelty of Vellius Pollis who fed his lampreys on the bodies of slaves he caused to be slain is well known. This cruelty Domitian disapproved of but should have punished.

There has been much discussion as to which is the best fish.

The question will never be decided, for as the Spanish proverb says, sobre los gustos no hai disputa. Every one is effected in his own way. These fugitive sensations can be expressed by no known character, and there is no scale to measure if a CAT–FISH (!), a sole, or a turbot are better than a salmon, trout, pike, or even tench of six or seven pounds.

It is well understood that fish is less nourishing than meat, because it contains no osmazome, because it is lighter in weight, and contains less weight in the same volume. Shell-fish, and especially oysters, furnish little nutrition, so that one can eat a great many without injury.

It will be remembered that not long ago any well arranged entertainment began with oysters, and that many guests never paused without swallowing a gross (144). I was anxious to know the weight of this advance guard, and I ascertained that a dozen oysters, fluid included, weighed four ounces averdupois. Now look on it as certain that the same persons who did not make a whit the worse dinner, on account of the oysters would have been completely satisfied if they had eaten the same weight of flesh or of chicken.


In 1798 I was at Versailles as a commissary of the Directory, and frequently met M. Laperte, greffier of the count of the department. He was very fond of oysters, and used to complain that he had never had enough.

I resolved to procure him this satisfaction, and invited him to dine with me on the next day.

He came. I kept company with him to the tenth dozen, after which I let him go on alone. He managed to eat thirty-two dozen within an hour for the person who opened them was not very skilful.

In the interim, I was idle, and as that is always a painful state at the table, I stopped him at the moment when he was in full swing. “Mon cher,” said I, “you will not to-day eat as many oysters as you meant — let us dine.” We did so, and he acted as if he had fasted for a week.


The ancients extracted from fish two highly flavored seasonings, muria and garum.

The first was the juice of the thuny, or to speak more precisely, the liquid substance which salt causes to flow from the fish.

Garum was dearer, and we know much less of it. It is thought that it was extracted by pressure from the entrailles of the scombra or mackerel; but this supposition does not account for its high price. There is reason to believe it was a foreign sauce, and was nothing else but the Indian soy, which we know to be only fish fermented with mushrooms.

Certainly, people from their locality are forced to live almost entirely upon fish. They also feed their working animals with it, and the latter from custom gradually grow to like this strange food. They also manure the soil with it, yet always receive the same quantity from the sea which surrounds them.

It has been observed that such nations are not so courageous as those that eat flesh. They are pale, a thing not surprising, for the elements of fish must rather repair the lymph than the blood.

Among ichthyophages, remarkable instances of longevity are observed, either because light food preserves them from plethora, or that the juices it contains being formed by nature only to constitute cartilages which never bears long duration, their use retards the solidification of the parts of the body which, after all, is the cause of death.

Be this as it may, fish in the hands of a skilful cook is an inexhaustible source of enjoyment. It is served up whole, in pieces, truncated with water, oil, vinegar, warm, cold; and is always well received. It is, however never better than when dressed en matilotte.

This ragout, though made a necessary dish to the boatmen on our rivers, and made in perfection only by the keepers of cobarets on their banks, is incomparably good. Lovers of fish never see it without expressing their gratification, either on account of its freshness of taste, or because they can without difficulty eat an indefinite quantity, without any fear of satiety or indigestion. Analytical gastronomy has sought to ascertain what are the effects of a fish diet on the animal system. Unanimous observation leads us to think that it has great influence on the genesiac sense, and awakens the instinct of reproduction in the two sexes. This effect being once known, two causes were at once assigned for it:

1st. The different manner of preparing fish, all the seasoning for it being irritating, such as carar, hering, thon marine, etc.

2d. The various juices the fish imbibes, which are highly inflammable and oxigenise in digestion.

Profound analysis has discovered a yet more powerful cause: the presence of phosphorous in all the portions, and which decomposition soon developes.

These physical truths were doubtless unknown to the ecclesiastical legislators, who imposed the lenten diet on different communities of monks, such as Chartreux, Recollets, Trappists, and the Carmelites reformed by Saint Theresa; no one thinks that they wished to throw a new difficulty into the way of the observance of the already most anti-social vow of chastity.

In this state of affairs, beyond doubt, glorious victories were won, and rebellious senses were subjected; there were, however, many lapses and defeats. They must have been well averred, for the result was the religious orders had ultimately a reputation like that of Hercules and the daughters of Danaus, or Marshal Saxe with M’lle Lecouvreur.

They might also have been delighted by an anecdote, so old as to date from the crusades.

Sultan Saladin being anxious to measure the continence of devises, took two into his palace, and for a long time fed them on the most succulent food.

Soon all traces of fasting began to disappear, and they reached a very comfortable embonpoint. At that time they were given as companions two odalisques of great beauty, all of whose well– directed attacks failed, and they came from the ordeal pure as the diamond of Visapor.

The Sultan kept them in his palace, and to celebrate their triumph fed them for several weeks on fish alone.

After a few days they were again submitted to the ordeal of the odalisques, and. . . . . . . . .

In the present state of our knowledge, it is probable that if the course of events were to establish any monastic order, the superiors would adopt some regimen better calculated to maintain its objects.

Philosophical Reflection.

Fish, considered in general, is an inexhaustible source of reflection to the philosopher.

The varied forms of these strange animals, the senses they are deprived of, and the limited nature of those they have, their various modes of existence, the influence exerted over them by the medium in which they live, move, and breathe, extend the range of our ideas and the indefinite modifications which result from their nature, motions and lives.

For my part, I entertain to them a sentiment very like respect, resulting from my belief that they belong to antediluvian races. The great convulsion which doomed our ancestors, in the eighteenth century of the world, to fish was a season of joy, triumph and festivity.

Section VII. Truffles.

Who ever says truffle, pronounces a great word, which awakens eratic and gourmand ideas both in the sex dressed in petticoats and in the bearded portion of humanity.

This honorable duplication results from the fact that the tubercle is not only delicious to the taste, but that it excites a power the exercise of which is accompanied by the most delicious pleasures.

The origin of the truffle is unknown; they are found, but none know how they vegetate. The most learned men have sought to ascertain the secret, and fancied they discovered the seed. Their promises, however, were vain, and no planting was ever followed by a harvest. This perhaps is all right, for as one of the great values of truffles is their dearness, perhaps they would be less highly esteemed if they were cheaper.

“Rejoice, my friend,” said I, “a superb lace is about to be manufactured at a very low price.”

“Ah!” replied she, “think you, if it be cheap, that any one would wear it?”

Eratic Virtue of Truffles.

The Romans were well acquainted with the truffle, but I do not think they were acquainted with the French variety. Those which were their delight were obtained from Greece and Africa, and especially from Libia. The substance was pale, tinged with rose, and the Libian truffles were sought for as being far the most delicate and highly perfumed.

“Gustus elementa per omnia quaerunt.” JUVENAL.

From the Romans to our own time, there was a long interregnum, and the resurrection of truffles is an event of recent occurrence. I have read many old books, in which there is no allusion to them. The generation for which I write may almost be said to witness its resurrection.

About 1780 truffles were very rare in Paris, and they were to be had only in small quantities at the Hotel des Americans, and at the Hotel de Province. A dindon truffee was a luxury only seen at the tables of great nobles and of kept women.

We owe their abundance to dealers in comestibles, the number of whom has greatly increased, and who, seeing that their merchandise was popular, had it sought for throughout the kingdom. Sending for it by either the mail or by couriers, they made its search general. As truffles cannot be planted, careful search alone can obtain it.

At the time I write (1825) the glory of the truffle is at its apogee. Let no one ever confess that he dined where truffles were not. However good any entree may be, it seems bad unless enriched by truffles. Who has not felt his mouth water when any allusion was made to truffles a la provincale.

A saute of truffles is a dish the honors of which the mistress of the house reserves to herself; in fine, the truffle is the diamond of the kitchen.

I sought the reason of this preference; it seemed to me that many other substances had an equal right to the honor, and I became satisfied that the cause was that the truffle was supposed to excite the genesiac sense. This I am sure is the chief quality of its perfection, and the predilection and preference evinced for it, so powerful is our servitude to this tyrannical and capricious sense.

This discovery led me to seek to ascertain if the effect were real or imaginary.

[The Translator here has thought it best to omit a very BROAD dialogue, which Brillat–Savarin introduced into his book.]

. . . . . . . . .. I made ulterior researches, collected my ideas, and consulted the men who were most likely to know, with all of whom I was intimate. I united them into a tribunal, a senate, a sanhedrim, an areopagus, and we gave the following decision to be commented upon by the litterateures of the twenty-eighth century.

“The truffle is a positive aphrodisiac, and under certain circumstances makes women kinder, and men more amiable.”

In Piedmont white truffles are met with, which are very highly esteemed. They have a slight flavor, not injurious to their perfection, because it gives no disagreable return.

The best truffles of France come from Perigord, and upper Provence. About the month of January they have their highest perfume.

Those from Bugey also have a high flavor, but can not be preserved.

Those of Burgundy and Dauphiny are of inferior quality. They are hard, and are deficient in farinacious matter. Thus, there are many kinds of truffles.

To find truffles, dogs and hogs are used, that have been trained to the purpose. There are men, however, with such practised eyes that by the inspection of the soil they can say whether it contains truffles or not, and what is their quality.

Are Truffles Indigestibles?

We have only to ascertain if the truffle be indigestible or not.

We say no.

This decision is ex cathedra, and well sustained.

1. By the nature of the substance. The truffle is easily masticated, is light, and has nothing hard nor cartilaginous in its composition.

2. During our observations for fifty years, we have never known any indigestion to result from truffles. *

[* The translator has known several such indigestions. He once nearly became a martyr to a galatine de Perdrix truffee, at the restaurant of the late M. Dandurand.]

3. The attestation of the most eminent of the faculty of Paris, a city eminently gourmande and trufflivorous, sustains this idea.

4. From the daily conduct of the doctors of the law, who, caeteris paribus, consume more truffles than any other class of citizens. Doctor Malonet used to eat enough to give an elephant the indigestion. He however lived to be eighty-six.

We may therefore look on it as certain, that the truffle is a food healthy as it is agreeable, and that when taken in moderation it passes through the system as a letter does through the post office.

One may easily be indisposed after a great dinner, where other things than truffles have been eaten; such accidents, however, only happen to those who, after the first service, were already stuffed like canons, and who failed in the second, leaving the luxuries offered them untouched.

This is not then the fault of truffles, and we may be sure they had swallowed so many glasses of pure water or eaten the same number of potatoes.

Let us conclude by a circumstance which shows how easily we may be mistaken without careful observation.

One day I invited Mr. S— a very pleasant old man, to dine with me. He was also a gourmand of the highest grade. Either because I knew his tastes, or to satisfy all my guests that I wished to make them happy, I was not sparing in truffles, and they appeared under the egis of young turkeys most carefully stuffed.

Mr. S— ate with energy, and as I knew he could not injure himself I left him alone, persuading him not to hurry himself because no one would attack the property he had acquired.

All passed off very well, and we separated at a very late hour. When we reached home, however, Mr. S— was attacked by a violent cholic, a disposition to vomit, convulsive cramp, and general indisposition.

This state of things lasted some time, and all said he suffered from the indigestion caused by truffles; at last nature came to the patient’s aid, and Mr. S— opened his mouth and threw up a single truffle, which struck the wall and rebounded, luckily without injury to the by-standers.

All unpleasant symptoms at once disappeared, tranquility was restored, digestion recommenced its course, the patient went to sleep and awoke in the morning perfectly well.

The cause was easily understood, Mr. S— had been eating a long time, and his teeth were unable to sustain the labor imposed on them. He had lost many of those precious members, and those he had left did not always meet together.

A truffle had thus escaped mastication, and almost whole had been swallowed. Digestion had carried it to the pylorus where it was momentarily detained, and this mechanical detention had caused all his trouble, as expulsion had cured it.

Thus there was no indigestion, but merely the interposition of a foreign body.

This was decided on by the consulting body, which saw the corpus delicti, and which selected me as its reporter.

Mr. S— did not on this account remain a whit less fond of truffles. He always attacked them with the same audacity, but was very careful to swallow them with more prudence. He used to thank God that this sanitary precaution had prolonged his life and his enjoyments.

Section VIII. Sugar.

In the present state of science we understand by sugar a substance mild to the taste, crystalizable, and which by fermentation resolves itself into carbonic acid and alcohol.

By sugar once was understood only the crystalized juice of the cane, (arundo saccharifera.)

A few pages of old authors would induce us to think the ancients had observed in certain arundines a sweet and extractible portion. Lucanus says:

“Qui bibunt tenera dulces ab arundine succos.”

Between water sweetened by the juice of the cane, and the sugar we have, there is a great difference. Art in Rome was not far enough advanced to accomplish it.

Sugar really originated in the colonies of the New World. The cane was imported thither two centuries ago and prospered, and effort was made to utilize the juice which flowed from it, and by gradual experiments they accomplished the manufacture of all the variety of its productions we know of.

The culture of the sugar cane has become an object of the greatest importance; it is a great source of wealth both to the cultivators and the vendors, and also to the taxes of governments who levy an import on it.

Indigenous Sugar.

It has long been thought that tropical heat was not needed to form sugar. About 1740 Morgroff discovered that many plants of the temperate zones, and among others the beet contained it.

Towards the beginning of the nineteenth century, circumstances having made sugar scarce, and consequently dear, the government made it an object for savants to look for it.

The idea was successful, and it was ascertained that sugar was found in the whole vegetable kingdom; that it existed in the grape, chestnut, potato, and in the beet especially.

This last plant became an object of the greatest culture, and many experiments proved that in this respect, the old world could do without the new. France was covered with manufactories, which worked with different success, and the manufacture of sugar became naturalized; the art was a new one which may any day be recalled.

Among the various manufactories, the most prominent was that established at Passy, near Paris, by Mr. Benjamin Delassert, a citizen, the name of whom is always connected with the good and useful.

By means of a series of extensive operations, he got rid of all that was doubtful in the practice, and made no mystery of his plan of procedure, even to those who were his rivals. He was visited by the head of the government, and was ordered to furnish all that was needed at the Tuilleries.

New circumstances, the restoration of peace, having again reduced colonial sugar to a lower price, the French manufacturers lost the advantages they had gained. Many, however, yet prosper, and Delassert makes some thousands every year. This also enables him to preserve his processes until the time comes when they may again he useful. *

[* We may add, that at the session for the general encouragement of national industry, a medal was ordered to be presented to M. Crespel, a manufacturer of arrus, who manufactures every year one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of beet sugar, which he sells at a profit, even — when Colonial sugar is 2 francs 50 centimes the kilogramme. The reason is, that the refuse is used for distillation, and subsequently fed out to cattle.]

When beet sugar was in the market, party men, up-starts and fools, took it into their heads that its flavor was unpleasant, and some even said it was unhealthy.

Many experiments have proved the contrary, and the Count de Chaptal, in his excellent book, Chemistry Applied to Agriculture,” (vol. ii. page 13,) says:

“Sugars obtained from various plants, says a celebrated chemist, are in fact of the same nature, and have no intrinsic difference when they are equally pure. Taste, crystalization, color, weight, are absolutely identical, and the most acute observer cannot distinguish the one from the other.”

An idea of the force of prejudice is afforded by the fact, that out of one hundred British subjects, taken at random, not ten believe in the possibility of obtaining sugar from the beet.

Uses of Sugar.

Sugar was introduced by the apothecaries. With them it was a most important article, for when a person was greatly in want of any article, there was a proverb, “Like an apothecary without sugar.”

To say that it came thence, is to say that it was received with disfavor; some said that it was heating, others that it injured the chest; some that it disposed persons to apoplexy. Calumny, however, had to give way to truth, and for eighty years this apothegm has been current, “Sugar hurts nothing but the purse.”

Under this impenetrable aegis the use of sugar has increased every day, and no alimentary substance has undergone so many transformations. Many persons like sugar in a pure state, and in hopeless cases the faculty recommend it as a substance which can do no possible harm, and which is not unpleasant.

Mixed with water, it gives us eau sucree, a refreshing drink, which is healthful, agreeable, and sometimes salutary.

Mingled in large quantities with water it constitutes sirops, which are perfumed, and from their variety are most refreshing.

Mingled with water, the caloric of which is artificially extracted, it furnishes two kinds, which are of Italian origin, and were introduced into France by Catharine de Medici.

With wine it furnishes such a restorative power that in some countries roasted meats taken to the bride and groom are covered with it, just as in Persia soused sheeps’ feet are given them.

Mingled with flour and eggs, it furnishes biscuits, maccaronies, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

With milk it unites in the composition of creams, blanc-mangers and other dishes of the second course, substituting for the substantial taste of meat, ethereal perfumes.

It causes the aroma of coffee to be exhaled.

Mingled with cafe au lait, a light, pleasant aliment is produced, precisely suited to those who have to go to their offices immediately after breakfast.

With fruits and flowers it contributes to furnish confitures, marmalades, preserves, pates and candies, and enables us to enjoy the perfume of those flowers long after they have withered.

It may be that sugar might be advantageously employed in embalming, an art of which we know little.

Sugar mingled with alcohol furnishes spirituous liquors, such as were used, it is said, to warm the old blood of Louis XIV., which, by their energy, seized the palate and the taste by the perfumed gas united to them, the two qualities forming the ne plus ultra of the pleasures of the taste.

Such is the substance which the French of the time of Louis XIII. scarcely knew the name of, and which to the people of the nineteenth century is become so important; no woman, in easy circumstances, spends as much money for bread as she does for sugar.

M. Delacroix, a man of letters, who is as industrious as he is profound, was one day complaining of the price of sugar, which then cost five francs a pound, “Ah!” said he, “if sugar should ever again be thirty sous a pound, I will drink nothing but eau sucree.” His wishes were granted; he yet lives, and I trust he keeps his word.

Section IX. Origin of Coffee.

The first coffee tree was found in Arabia, and in spite of the various transplantations it has undergone, the best coffee is yet obtained there. An old tradition states that coffee was discovered by a shepherd of old, who saw that his flock was always in the greatest state of excitement and hilarity when they browsed on the leaves of the coffee tree.

Though this may be but an old story, the honor of the discovery belongs only in part to the goat-herd. The rest belongs to him who first made use of the bean, and boiled it.

A mere decoction of green coffee is a most insipid drink, but carbonization develops the aroma and forms an oil which is the peculiarity of the coffee we drink, and which would have been eternally unknown but for the intervention of heat.

The Turks excel us in this. They employ no mill to torturate the coffee, but beat it with wooden pestles in mortars. When the pestles have been long used, they become precious and are sold at great prices.

I had to examine and determine whether in the result one or the other of the two methods be preferable.

Consequently, I burned carefully a pound of good mocha, and separated it into two equal portions, the one of which was passed through the mill, and the other beaten Turkish fashion in a mortar.

I made coffee of each, taking equal weights of each, poured on an equal weight of boiling water and treated them both precisely alike.

I tasted this coffee myself, and caused others who were competent judges to do so. The unanimous opinion was that coffee which had been beaten in a mortar was far better than that which had been ground.

Any one may repeat the experiment. In the interim I will tell you a strange anecdote of the influence of one or the other kind of manipulation.

“Monsieur,” said Napoleon, one day to Laplace, “how comes it that a glass of water into which I put a lump of loaf sugar tastes more pleasantly than if I had put in the same quantity of crushed sugar.” “Sire,” said the philosophic Senator, “there are three substances the constituents of which are identical — Sugar, gum and amidon; they differ only in certain conditions, the secret of which nature has preserved. I think it possible that in the effect produced by the pestle some saccharine particles become either gum or amidon, and cause the difference.”

This remark became public, and ulterior observations has confirmed it.

Different Modes of Preparing Coffee.

Some years ago all directed their attention to the mode of preparing coffee; the reason doubtless was that the head of the government was fond of it.

Some proposed not to burn nor to powder it, to boil it three quarters of an hour, to strain it, &c.

I have tried this and all the methods which have been suggested from day to day, and prefer that known as a la Dubelloy, which consists in pouring boiling water on coffee placed in a porcelain or silver vessel pierced with a number of very minute holes. This first decoction should be taken and brought to the boiling point, then passed through the strainer again, and a coffee will be obtained clear and strong as possible.

I have also tried to make coffee in a high pressure boiling apparatus; all I obtained however was a fluid intensely bitter, and strong enough to take the skin from the throat of a Cossack.

Effects of Coffee.

Doctors have differed in relation to the sanitary properties of coffee. We will omit all this, and devote ourselves to the more important point, its influence on the organs of thought.

There is no doubt but that coffee greatly excites the cerebral faculties. Any man who drinks it for the first time is almost sure to pass a sleepless night.

Sometimes the effect is softened or modified by custom, but there are many persons on whom it always produces this effect, and who consequently cannot use coffee.

I have said that the effect was modified by use, a circumstance which does not prevent its having effect in another manner. I have observed persons whom coffee did not prevent from sleeping at night, need it to keep them awake during the day, and never failed to slumber when they had taken it for dinner. There are others who are torpid all day when they have not taken their cup in the morning.

Voltaire and Buffon used a great deal of coffee. Perchance the latter was indebted to it for the admirable clearness we observe in his works, and the second for the harmonious enthusiasm of his style. It is evident that many pages of the treatise on man, the dog, the tiger, lion and horse, were written under a strange cerebral excitement.

The loss of sleep caused by coffee is not painful, for the perceptions are very clear, and one has no disposition to sleep. One is always excited and unhappy when wakefulness comes from any other cause. This, however, does prevent such an excitement, when carried too far, from being very injurious.

Formerly only persons of mature age took coffee. Now every one takes it, and perhaps it is the taste which forces onward the immense crowd that besiege all the avenues of the Olympus, and of the temple of memory.

The Cordwainer, author of the tragedy of Zenobia, which all Paris heard read a few years ago, drank much coffee; for that reason he excelled the cabinetmaker of Nevers, who was but a drunkard.

Coffee is a more powerful fluid than people generally think. A man in good health may drink two bottles of wine a day for a long time, and sustain his strength. If he drank that quantity of coffee he would become imbecile and die of consumption. I saw at Leicester square, in London, a man whom coffee had made a cripple. He had ceased to suffer, and then drank but six cups a day.

All fathers and mothers should make their children abstain from coffee, if they do not wish them at twenty to be puny dried up machines. People in large cities should pay especial attention to this, as their children have no exaggeration of strength and health, and are not so hearty as those born in the country.

I am one of those who have been obliged to give up coffee, and I will conclude this article by telling how rigorously I was subjected to its power.

The Duke of Mossa, then minister of justice, called on me for an opinion about which I wished to be careful, and for which he had allowed me but a very short time.

I determined then to sit up all night, and to enable me to do so took two large cups of strong and highly flavored coffee.

I went home at seven o’clock to get the papers which had been promised me, but found a note telling me I would not get them until the next day.

Thus in every respect disappointed, I returned to the house where I had dined, and played a game of piquet, without any of the moody fits to which I was ordinarily subject.

I did justice to the coffee, but I was not at ease as to how I would pass the night.

I went to bed at my usual hour, thinking that if I did not get my usual allowance, I would at least get four or five hours, sufficient to carry me through the day.

I was mistaken. I had been two hours in bed and was wider awake than ever; I was in intense mental agitation, and fancied my brain a mill, the wheels of which revolved, grinding nothing.

The idea came to me to turn this fancy to account, and I did so, amusing myself by putting into verse a story I had previously read in an English paper.

I did so without difficulty, and as I did not sleep I undertook another, but in vain. A dozen verses had exhausted my poetic faculty, and I gave it up.

I passed the night without sleep, and without even being stupified for a moment, I arose and passed the day in the same manner. When on the next night I went to bed at my usual hour I made a calculation, and found out that I had not slept for forty hours.

Section X. Chocolate — Its Origin.

The first visiters of America were impelled by a thirst of gold. At that time nothing was appreciated but the products of the mines. Agriculture and commerce were in their infancy, and political economy was as yet unborn. The Spaniards found then the precious metals, an almost sterile discovery, for they decreased in value as they became more abundant. We have other and better ways to increase wealth.

In those regions, however, where a genial sun confers immense fruitfulness on the soil, the cultivation of sugar and coffee was found advantageous. The potato, indigo, vanilla, guano, cocoa, were also discovered; these are its real treasures.

If these discoveries took place in spite of the barriers opposed to curiosity by a jealous nation, we may reasonably hope that they will be multiplied ten-fold in the course of the years to come; and that the explorations of the savants of old Europe will enrich the three kingdoms with a multitude of substances which will give us new sensations, as vanilla has, or augment our alimentary resources, as cocoa.

It has been determined to call chocolate the result of the paste of cocoa burnt with sugar and the bark of the cinnamon. This is the technical definition of chocolate. Sugar is the integral part, for without sugar the compound is cocoa and, chocolate. To sugar, cinnamon and cocoa is joined the delicious aroma of vanilla, and thus is obtained the ne plus ultra to which this preparation can be carried.

To this small number of ingredients has been reduced the number of things sought to mingle with cocoa in the manufacture of chocolate. Pepper, pimento, anise seed, ginger and others, have necessarily been tried.

The cocoa tree is a native of South America, and is found both in the islands and on the continent. It has been confessed, however, that the best fruit is produced by the trees which grow on the banks of Moracaibo, in the valleys of Caracas, and in the province of Sokomusko. The fruit is larger, the sugar less bitter, and the taste higher. Since these regions have become accessible, a comparison may be made every day and the palate will never be deceived.

The Spanish women of the new world are passionately fond of chocolate; and not satisfied with taking it two or three times a day, have it even sent after them to church. This sensuality has often drawn down the censure of their bishops, who, however, gradually closed their eyes to it. The reverend father Escobar, the metaphysics of whom was subtle as his morals were accommodating, used to declare that chocolate made with water did not break a fast; thus for the use of his penitents reproducing the old adage, “Liquidum non frangit jejunium.”

Chocolate was brought to Spain about the end of the seventeenth century, and the use became at once common. Women especially showed great fondness for it. Manners have not changed in this particular as yet, and now throughout all the peninsula chocolate is presented on all occasions when it is usual to offer any refreshment.

Chocolate crossed the mountains with Anne of Austria, the daughter of Philip II., and wife of Louis XIII. The Spanish monks also made it known, by presents to their brethren in France. The Spanish ambassadors also made it popular, and during the regency it was more universally used than coffee, because it was taken as an agreeable food, while coffee was esteemed a luxury.

Linnaeus calls the cocoa cacao theobroma, (cocoa, the drink of the gods). A cause for this name has been sought. Some assign his passionate fondness for it, and the other his desire to please his confessor; there are those who attribute it to gallantry, a Queen having first introduced it. (Incertum.)

Properties of Chocolate.

Chocolate has given occasion to profound dissertations, with the object of determining its nature and properties, and to place it in the category of warm, cold, or temperate drinks. We must own all their lucubrations have contributed but slightly to the elucidation of truth.

It was left for time and experience, those two great masters, to show that chocolate prepared with care is as healthful as it is agreeable. That it is nourishing, easily digested, and is not so injurious to beauty as coffee said to be. It is very suitable to persons who have much mental toil, to professors and lawyers, especially to lawyers. It also suits certain feeble stomachs, and has been thought most advantageous in chronic diseases. It is the last resource in affections of the pylorus.

These various properties chocolate owes to nothing but an eloesaccharum. Few substances contain in the same volume more nutrition. It becomes almost entirely animalised.

During the war, cocoa was rare and very dear. Substitutes were sought for, but all efforts were vain. One of the blessings of peace was that it rid us of all those humbugs one was forced to taste, but which were no more chocolate than chicory is mocha.

Some persons complain that they cannot digest chocolate. Others say that it does not nourish them, and that it passes away too quickly.

The probability is that the first have only to blame themselves, and that the chocolate they use is of bad quality. Good and well made chocolate can be digested even by the weakest stomach.

The others have an easy remedy, and they need only strengthen their stomachs by a pate, a cotelette, or a jerked kidney. Then let them take a bowl of sokomusko, and thank God for such a powerful stomach.

Here I have an opportunity to give two examples, the correctness of which may be relied on.

After a good breakfast one may drink a full bowl of chocolate, and digestion in three hours will be perfect, so that one may dine at any hour that is pleasant. . . . In zeal for the advancement of the science, I tried this experiment on many ladies who assured me they would die. They did not, though, and lived to glorify the professor.

Those who use chocolate, ordinarily enjoy the most perfect health, and are the least subject to the multitude of ailments which destroy life; their embonpoint is stationary. These two examples any one can verify in society by a scrutiny of those the regimen of whom is known.

This is the true place to speak of the properties of chocolate, which I have verified by many examples and experiments, which I am delighted to exhibit to my readers. (See varieties at the end of the volume.)

Now, then, let any man who has indulged too much in the cup of volupte; let every man who has passed in toil too much of the time when he should have slept; let every man of mind, who finds his faculties temporarily decay; every man who finds the air humid and the atmosphere painful to breathe; let every man who has a fixed idea which would deprive him of the liberty of thought; let them each take a demi litre of chocolate ambre, (sixty grains of amber to the kilogramme), and they will see wonders.

In my way of distinguishing things, I have called this chocolate des affliges; because in all the conditions I have referred to, there is something very like affliction.

Very good chocolate is made in Spain; one is indisposed to send thither for it, for all manufacturers are not equally skillful, and when it comes it has to be used as it is.

Italian chocolates do not suit the French, for the cocoa is burned too much. This makes the chocolate bitter, and deprives it of its nourishment. A portion of the bean has been reduced to carbon.

Chocolate having become common in France, all sought to learn how to make it. Few, however, approximated to perfection for the art is not easy.

In the first place it was necessary to know good cocoa and to use it in all its purity. There is no first quality case that has not its inferiorities, and a mistaken interest often causes damaged beans to be put in, which should have been rejected. The roasting of the cocoa is also a delicate operation, and requires a tact very like inspiration. Some have the faculty naturally, and are never mistaken.

A peculiar talent is necessary to regulate the quantity of sugar which enters into the composition. It is not invariable and a matter of course, but varies in proportion to the aroma of the bean and the degree of torrefaction.

The trituration and mixture do not demand less care, and on them depends the greater or less digestibility of chocolate.

Other considerations should also preside over the choice and quantity of aromas, which should not be the same with chocolate made for food and those taken as luxuries. It should also be varied according if the mass is intended to receive vanilla or not. In fine, to make good chocolate a number of very subtle equations must be resolved, and which we take advantage of without suspecting that they ever took place.

For a long time machines have been employed for the manufacture of chocolate. We think this does not add at all to its perfection, but it diminishes manipulation very materially, so that those who have adopted it should be able to sell chocolate at a very low rate. * They, however, usually sell it more dearly, and this fact demonstrates that the true spirit of commerce has not yet entered France; the use of machines should be as advantageous to the consumer as to the producer.

[* One of those machines is now in operation in a window in Broadway, New York. It is a model of mechanical appropriateness.]

True Method of Preparing Chocolate.

The Americans * make their chocolate without sugar. When they wish to take chocolate, they send for chocolate. Every one throws into his cup as much cocoa as it needs, pours warm water in, and adds the sugar and perfumes he wishes.

[* South Americans. — TRANSLATOR.]

This method neither suits our habits nor our tastes, for we wish chocolate to come to us ready prepared.

In this state, transcendental chemistry has taught us that it should neither be rasped with the knife nor bruised with a pestle, because thus a portion of the sugar is converted into starch, and the drink made less attractive.

Thus to make chocolate, that is to say, to make it fit for immediate use, about an ounce and a half should be taken for each cup, which should be slowly dissolved in water while it is heated, and stirred from time to time with a spatula of wood. It should be boiled a quarter of an hour, in order to give it consistency, and served up hot.

“Monsieur,” said madame d’Arestrel, fifty years ago, to me at Belley, “when you wish good chocolate make it the evening before in a tin pot. The rest of the night gives it a velvet-like flavor that makes it far better. God will not be offended at this little refinement, for in himself is all excellence.”

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51