Wednesday, July 03, 2013


Respect Your Dinner

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), "Memorials of Gormandizing":
Some of the most pure and precious enjoyments of life are unknown to you. You eat and drink, but you do not know the art of eating and drinking; nay, most probably you despise those who do. "Give me a slice of meat," say you very likely, "and a fig for your gourmands." You fancy it is very virtuous and manly all this. Nonsense, my good sir; you are indifferent because you are ignorant, because your life is passed in a narrow circle of ideas, and because you are bigotedly blind and pompously callous to the beauties and excellences beyond you.

Sir, Respect Your Dinner; idolize it, enjoy it properly. You will be by many hours in the week, many weeks in the year, and many years in your life the happier if you do.

Don't tell us that it is not worthy of a man. All a man's senses are worthy of employment, and should be cultivated as a duty. The senses are the arts. What glorious feasts does Nature prepare for your eye in animal form, in landscape, and painting! Are you to put out your eyes and not see? What royal dishes of melody does her bounty provide for you in the shape of poetry, music, whether windy or wiry, notes of the human voice, or ravishing song of birds! Are you to stuff your ears with cotton, and vow that the sense of hearing is unmanly?—you obstinate dolt you! No, surely; nor must you be so absurd as to fancy that the art of eating is in any way less worthy than the other two. You like your dinner, man; never be ashamed to say so.

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