Vintage Classics

The Physiology of Taste

Or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy

Publisher: Vintage

A delightful and hilarious classic about the joys of the table, The Physiology of Taste is the most famous book about food ever written. First published in France in 1825 and continuously in print ever since, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s masterpiece is a historical, philosophical, and epicurean collection of recipes, reflections, and anecdotes on everything and anything gastronomical. Brillat-Savarin—who famously stated “Tell me what you eat and I shall tell you what you are”—shrewdly expounds upon culinary matters that still resonate today, from the rise of the destination restaurant to matters of diet and weight, and in M. F. K. Fisher, whose commentary is both brilliant and amusing, he has an editor with a sensitivity and wit to match his own.


The book is — what? Does anyone know? Intermittently it is an autobiography, but told principally in dinner anecdotes (except one, which is about a breakfast, but so protracted that it, too, becomes dinner). It is not a cookbook, although the next time you are bestowed with a turbot the size and awkwardness of a...
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“It takes someone like Brillat-Savarin to remind us that cooking need not be the fraught, perfectionist, slightly paranoid struggle that it has latterly become. His love of food is bound up with a taste for human error and indulgence, and that is why The Physiology of Taste is still the most civilized cookbook ever written.” —The New Yorker

"The Physiology of Taste is about the pleasures of the table—how to eat, when to eat, why to eat—but it is also about much, much more. Along the way, Brillat-Savarin philosophizes, gossips, and recalls past flirtations. . . . High spirited and irreverent, Fisher matches his philosophical meanderings. Her extensive translator's notes, which take up almost a quarter of the book, are funny and scholarly by turns." —San Francisco Chronicle