JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.
Our Athenian contemporary, Professor Bedelar Maturin, has a hobby which he rides on every possible occasion—the exploitation of the work which Brillat-Savarin wrote a century ago on “The Physiology of Taste.” The latter believed that human beings should cultivate the wholesome enjoyment of life; that the education of the tastes and the appetites should be an index of the degree of civilization. The man of good instincts and refinement should know how to eat and drink, to converse (a lost art to-day), to appreciate a beautiful landscape, to enjoy the fragrant flowers—in all things to deport himself sanely and soberly. Like the much maligned Epicurus of old, Savarin was an exceedingly temperate man. They both comprehended well, wise philosophers as they were, that true pleasure lay not in gluttony and other inordinate appetites, but in the knowledge and practice of reasonable conduct in all the manifold aspects of existence. “The love of good living is not merely a physical, but an intellectual and a moral quality, as well, almost deserving to rank as a virtue.” We would omit the “almost.” Savarin's book (which de Balzac termed “adorable”) was written with a double object in view: “to lay down the fundamental theory of gastronomy, so that she would take her place among the sciences in that rank to which she has an incontestable right,” and “to define with precision what must be understood by the love of good living, so that for all time that social quality may be kept apart from gluttony and intemperance, with which many have absurdly confounded it.”
THE SCIENCE AND ART OF EATING.. JAMA. 2006;296(13):1668. doi:10.1001/jama.296.13.1668-a