Saturday, May 05, 2007

Five best books about France

Howard Bloch, Sterling Professor of French at Yale University and author of A Needle in the Right Hand of God, named a "five best books about France" list for Opinion Journal.

The oldest title on his list:

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1825)

Lawyer, judge and professor, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin invented the genre of food writing in 1825 with "The Physiology of Taste." This epicure's epicure defines how we taste and what we taste when we savor vegetable, beef, fowl or fish. He is obsessed by the perfection of the palate, noting that the gourmands of Rome could tell by the flavor whether a fish was caught between the city's bridges or lower down the Tiber. His writing is as varied as the most exquisite menu, from aphorisms ("the truffle is the diamond of the art of cookery"), to tales of Napoleon at table, to meditations upon the role of food in history. M.F.K. Fisher's English translation and notes show her a worthy heir to the throne of Brillat-Savarin's kingdom of gastronomy.

Read about the title that topped Bloch's list.

--Marshal Zeringue