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Physiology of Taste [Hardcover]

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin , Bill Buford , M.F.K. Fisher
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2009
Brillat - Savarin's unique, exuberant collection of dishes, experiences, reflections, history and philosophy raised gastronomy to an art form. First published in France in 1825, this remarkable book reflected a new era in French cuisine: the advent of the restaurant, which gave the bourgeoisie the opportunity to select their dishes with precision and anticipation. Yet the author also gives his views on taste, diet and maintaining a healthy weight, on digestion, sleep, dreams and being a gourmand. Witty, shrewd and anecdotal, The Physiology of Taste not only contains some remarkable recipes, it an elegant argument for the pleasures of good food and a hearty appetite.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 490 pages
  • Publisher: Everyman; 1st Everyman Library edition edition (1 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841593141
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841593142
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 21.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

You can't properly call yourself a gourmand (or even a minor foodie) until you've digested Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's delectable 1825 treatise, The Physiology of Taste: Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy. Brilliantly and lovingly translated in 1949 by M. F. K. Fisher (herself the doyenne of 20th-century food writing), the book offers the Professor's meditations not just on matters of cooking and eating, but extends to sleep, dreams, exhaustion and even death (which he defines as the "complete interruption of sensual relations"). But as he proclaims in the initial Aphorisms: "The discovery of a new dish does more for human happiness than the discovery of a star," and Brillat-Savarin's genius is in the examination and discussion of food, cooking and eating. Chocoholics will be satisfied to know that "carefully prepared chocolate is as healthful a food as it is pleasant ... that it is, above all, helpful to people who must do a great deal of mental work ..." He examines the erotic properties of the truffle ("the truffle is not a positive aphrodisiac; but it can, in certain situations, make women tenderer and men more agreeable"), the financial influence of the turkey (apparently quite a prize in 19th- century Paris) and the level of gourmandise among the various professions (bankers, doctors, writers and men of faith are all predestined to love food). Just as engrossing as the text itself are M. F. K. Fisher's lively, personal glosses at the end of every chapter, which make up almost a quarter of the book. They are soulmates separated by centuries and Fisher's fondness for the Professor comes through on every page. As she notes at the end: "I have yet to be bored or offended, which is more than most women can say of any relationship, either ghostly or corporeal." --Rebecca A. Staffel, --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Published in 1825 after some three decades of consuming research, The Physiology of Taste is the most famous book ever written about food. It remains among the most comprehensive, stimulating, and just plain enjoyable works ever published on the subject of the senses and their pleasures. In a work spiced with style and wisdom, Brillat-Savarin declares that "Animals feed themselves; men eat; but only wise men know the art of eating."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic & deservedly so 28 Feb 2012
For most of its history this book has been such a classic that praising it was to engage in cliché. Perhaps in certain circles it still has that status, but for me it was an accidental and a happy discovery. Neither a science book, as the title might imply, nor a cookery book, it's more a rambling collection of thoughts on food, life, love and being human. It's rambling, however, not in the sense of being aimless and slow but in that of delightfully straying down wonderful sidetracks. From the costly treasures and wild beasts of the New World - which, in both cases, turn out to be turkey - to the dishes (calibrated by social class and depth of pocket) which you can place in front of a man to see if his pleasure in them marks him out as a well-developed gourmand, the whole book is a joy. The different pace and perspective of life is jarring at first, but within a few pages it becomes part of the savour. This is food and drink seen in an entirely novel way - novel at the time, to those who first read it, even more novel to us when faced with Brillat-Savarin's brilliantly anachronistic mode of thought. Strange, but highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Formatting is terrible 8 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Physiology of Taste
Just purchased this and only viewed it on the Chrome Cloud Reader so far, but the formatting is awful. Pretty much every other line has missing spaces meaning that words run together. Too distracting. Going to request a refund and get the paperback edition.


We have seen above, that the sensation of
taste residedchiefly in the pores and feelers of
the tongue. Anatomy tells us that alltongues are
not exactly alike, there being three times as
many feelers in sometongues as in others. This
circumstance will explain why one of two
guests,sitting at the same table, is delighted,
while the other seems to eat fromconstraint; the
latter has a tongue but slightly provided. These
are recognizedin the empire of the taste--both
deaf and dumb.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 19 Dec 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
this is a wonderful book, full of wisdom and wit. 'Tell me what you eat, and I'll tell you what you are,' other bon mots, and stories all served up in a witty interesting way. And then tempered towards the end with his encounters with the French Revolution. DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY THE TITLE!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute delight! 6 Jun 2013
By mary s.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A cuisine based on such a love of food, its preparation, health benefits (or otherwise) and presentation cannot fail to please. So much information and insight into human nature all given with kindness and grace.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful! 23 Nov 2012
A book to read and dip into over and over again. It contains a wealth of wit, wisdom and sheer joy on food, dining, philosophy and life in general. This from P176; "Man lives not on what he eats, but on what he digests"....and this is surely a book to digest!
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