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S ince its completion in , this handbook has appeared in so many different guises — from 's Gastronomy as a Fine Art to The Philosopher in the Kitchen in — that much of its wisdom has become idiomatic. Brillat-Savarin was, for example, the first to coin the phrase: "You are what you eat" — item four in a long list of "Aphorisms of the Professor" intended as "a lasting foundation for the science of gastronomy". In fact, Brillat was no professor, but a judge who often worked on his magnum opus while presiding in court. His life spanned perhaps the most turbulent period of France's history.
The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
As a man of the Enlightenment, Savarin never fears that by explaining pleasure, pleasure ceases. A modern reader, propped up in bed with the Marquis de Sade, resents all those lengthy diatribes on Man and Nature the Marquis loves to insert just when his sexual ballets are about to reach their athletic peak. For example, he points out that in enjoying a fine turkey, a man is really attaining knowledge about the Natural Balance between flesh and fat. Yet the culinary principles based on this chemistry remain true: To extract the flavor substances in meat stews, all the ingredients have to be cut or shaped so that the liquid has maximum exposure to the solid. A simple, clear idea, and yet how many recipes today yield bland results because the food was not first properly prepared in this way. Fisher's English version perfectly captures the wit and gaiety of the book. First published 20 years ago in a deluxe edition, her translation and commentary now appear in less expensive form.