TALES OF THE
TABLE, KITCHEN, AND LARDER:
A NEW AND IMPROVED CODE OF EATICS;
SELECT EPICURIAN PRECEPTS,
NUTRITIVE MAXIMS, REFLECTIONS, ANECDOTES, &C.
THE VERITABLE SCIENCE OF THE MOUTH;
THE ART OF NEVER BREAKFASTING AT HOME, AND
ALWAYS DINING ABROAD
DICK HUMELBERGIUS SECUNDUS.
“O vos qui stomacho laboratis, accurrite, eg ego vos restaurabo!”
Vide p. 202
“Always breakfast as if you did not intend to dine; and dine as if you
had not broken your fast.” Code Gourmand.
The book was published in New York in 1829, and the real identity of the writer remains a mystery, although there are several theories. The name is meant to suggest the return of Gabriel Hummelberger (Humelbergius), the sixteenth century annotator of the Roman cookery manuscript ascribed to Apicius (whose exact identity is also somewhat of a mystery.)
A front page like this is worth the cost of the book, methinks, but front pages today are not what they used to be. They are certainly not as much fun as this one. Humelbergius even invents a new word – eatics – which sadly has not been absorbed into the language, for it is a lovely counter to the rather chilly concept of ‘dietetics’.
This front page would also have given me a worthy quotation for the day, but as many of you go straight to the bottom of the blog page, I did not want to cause confusion by leaving it blank.
The author is not afraid to tackle the big questions of gastronomy. I give you his words on the old conundrum of ‘Do we eat to live, or live to eat?’, and his advice on how best to treat your host, in order to secure a return invitation and avoid the dreadful situation of eating all alone, in your own home.
The Knotty Point.
A QUESTION, hitherto undecided in this all-consuming world, and particularly with gourmands, connected with the philosophy of the stomach, is, do we eat to live, or live to eat?The temperate man adopts the first; the man of appetite the other. Now, as there are fewpeople, of whatsoever country, calling, or sect, who would not prefer a good dinner to anindifferent, and one of an indifferent quality to none at all; we maintain that it is nearly asrational for a man to live to eat, as it is for him to eat to live; nay, did we only eat to live, how
little would satisfy nature, - "man's life,'' as the poet says, "would then be as cheap as beasts." But eating and drinking have such irresistible appeals to the palate and stomach, that insensible indeed must be the nerves of either the one or the other that could withstand the argumentum of a smoking Sir Loin, or round of good English beef, even upon a GoodFriday, were the appetite jaded to eat.
A good dinner being one of the greatest enjoyments of human life, is it to be wondered that so many ruses de guerre are adopted to procure one abroad, when it is not convenient to find one at home ? Besides, ought we not to be grateful to those benefactors, who are open to such satisfactory accommodation, and who take so much trouble to make us eat and drink their substance ? Far, indeed, from jesting, or treating such hospitality with levity, we should endeavour to pay our host with appropriate encomia on everything set before us; and to settleour reckoning, with sallies of wit and humour, short and amusing stories, anecdotes, a thousand times told, glees, catches, compliments, and conundrums; in short, to secure another invitation, feel the pulse of the Amphitrion, get hold of his weak side, his hobby; you then invest the main post, and if ever you lose it, it will be your own fault; flatter him to the skies - say yes and no - But stop - we are proceeding rather too fast; let us first saySOMETHING ABOUT BREAKFAST.
Here endeth my extract for today, I will give you his thoughts on breakfast some other time, dear readers.
The recipe for the day is from a well-known cookery book contemporary with Apician Morsels. It is The Cook’s Dictionary and Housekeeper’s Directory (1830), by Richard Dolby.
Beef (Sirloin of) in Epigram.
Having roasted a sirloin of beef, carefully take up the skin of the meat, which you must cut out and mince in fine shreds; but take care that you do not cut the sides. Have a strong brown sauce ready with a few mushrooms, pepper and salt, and a little lemon juice. Put in the mine, lay it inside the beef, and cover the skin over. Serve it up with a strong gravy.
We will consider epigrams (the culinary kind) on another day too, never fear.
Quotation for the Day
A dinner invitation, once accepted, is a sacred obligation. If you die before the dinner takes place, your executor must attend.