The Life You Give: Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin *April 1 1755

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, born Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, on April 1, 1755, in Belley, France, was lawyer, politician, [judge, violinist}, and author of a celebrated work on gastronomy, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste).

Brillat-Savarin followed the family profession of law. A deputy of the Third Estate at the Estates-General of 1789, he was forced to flee the country during the Terror and went to Switzerland and the United States. He returned to France in 1796 and became a judge of the Court of Cassation during Napoleon’s consulate. He published several works on law and political economy.

Brillat-Savarin’s work on gastronomy first appeared in 1825, with the full title Physiologie du goût; ou, méditations de gastronomie transcendante: ouvrage théorique, historique et à l’ordre du jour, 2 vol. (“The Physiology of Taste; or, Meditations on Transcendent Gastronomy: A Work Theoretical, Historical, and Programmed”). The book is less a treatise on cuisine or on culinary arts and more a witty compendium of random chitchat and precepts, of anecdotes and observations of every kind that might enhance the pleasures of the table—with only an occasional recipe being offered. The book went through several editions in the 19th century and was initially translated into English in 1854; the most-celebrated translation, by M.F.K. Fisher, was published in 1949.

To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being for as long as they are under our roofs.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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