My hero, Brillat-Savarin


This is the grave in Père Lachaise of the man who wrote the first food book – Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et à l’ordre du jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un Professeur, membre de plusieurs sociétés littéraires et savantes.

His sayings hang in a framed poster above my stove, a purchase made in my former haunts of Les Halles. He wrote: “The discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star” and “To receive guests is to take charge of their happiness during the entire time they are under your roof.”

Few people know that he lived in the United States in the 1790s, fleeing the French Revolution, for there was a bounty on his head. He stayed for three years in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Hartford, living on the proceeds of giving French and violin lessons. For a time he was first violin in the Park Theater in New York.

The best cheese in the world bears his name.

He was born April 1 two-hundred-fifty-eight years ago.

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