Saturday, August 20, 2005

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

A little history on Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin:

Quite possibly the most famous french epicure and gastromone of all, Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (April 1, 1755-1826) was born to a family of lawyers in whom eloquence flowed. He studied law, chemistry and medicine and thereafter practiced law in his hometown. His second surname was adopted by him upon the death of an aunt named Savarin who left him her entire fortune conditioned upon his adoption of her name.

During the French Revolution, there was a bounty on his head and he sought political asylum through exile, at first in Switzerland. He later moved to Holland, and then to the newly-born United States, where he stayed for three years in Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Hartford, living on the proceeds of giving French and violin lessons.

He returned to France under the Directorate in 1797 and acquired the magistrate post he would then hold for the rest of his life, as a judge of the court of cassation. He published several works on law and political economy. He remained a bachelor, but not a stranger to love, which he counted the sixth sense.

His famous work, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), was published in December 1825, two months before his death. The full title is Physiologie du Goût, ou Méditations de Gastronomie Transcendante; ouvrage théorique, historique et à l'ordre du jour, dédié aux Gastronomes parisiens, par un Professeur, membre de plusieurs sociétés littéraires et savantes ( "The physiology of taste, or, transcendental gastronomy; a theoretical, historical and topical work, dedicated to the gastronomes of Paris by a professor, member of several literary and scholarly societies").

Brillat-Savarin cheese is named in his honor.


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