The Pleasures of the Table 4

This little book was on top of the Woman’s Home earlier this week so thought I would keep with the theme for the week and share an except from this lovely book too.

Today’s excerpt is “On Gourmandism”.

“I have consulted all the dictionaries about the word Gourmandism, and am far from satisfied with what I have found.  There is endless confusion between gourmandism, properly so called, and gluttony or voracity; whence I conclude that lexicographers  excellent fellows though they may be in other respects  are not to be numbered among those charming scholars who eat a partridge wing with easy grace, and wash it down, little finger in the air, with a glass of Lafite or Glos Vougeot.

They have forgotten, utterly forgotten, social gourmandism, which combines the elegance of Athens, the luxury of Rome, and the delicacy of France, and which unites careful planning with skilled performance, gustatory zeal with wise discrimination; a precious quality, which might well be called a virtue and is at least the source of our purest pleasures.


Let us then define our terms and make ourselves clear.  Gourmandism is an impassioned, reasoned, and habitual preference for everything which gratifies the organ of taste.

Gourmandism is the enemy of excess, indigestion and drunkenness are offences which render the offender liable to be struck off the rolls.

Gourmandism includes friandise, which is simply the same preference applied to light, delicate, and insubstantial food, such as preserves and pastry.  It is a modification introduced in favour of the ladies of those gentlemen who resemble them.

from whatever point of view gourmandism is considered, it deserves nothing but praise and encouragement.

From the physical point of view, it is the result and proof of the sound and perfect condition of the organs of nourishment.

From the moral point of view, it shows implicit obedience to the commands of the Creator, who, when He ordered us to eat in order to live, gave us inducement of appetite, the encouragement of savour, and the reward of pleasure.


From the point of view of political economy, gourmandism is the common ond which unites the nations of the world through the reciprocal exchange of objects serving for daily consumption.

It is gourmandism which sends wines, spirits, sugar, spices, pickles, salted foods, and provisions of every kind, down to eggs and melons, across the earth from pole to pole.

It is gourmandism which determines the relative price of things mediocre, good, and excellent, whether their qualities are the effect of art or the gift of nature.

It is gourmandism which sustains the hopes and the spirit of rivalry of the hose of fishermen, huntsmen, farmers, and other who every day fill the richest larders with the result of their labours and discoveries.

And lastly, it is gourmandism which forms the livelihood of the industrious throng of cooks, confectioners  bakers, and others of all descriptions concerned with the preparation of food, who in their turn employ other works of every kind for their needs, thus giving rise at all times to a circulation of funds incalculable in respect to mobility and magnitude by even the most expert brains.

Let it be remembered too that the industry which has gourmandism as its object enjoys the special advantage that it depends on the one hand on the greatest fortunes and on the other on the recurring needs of everyday life.

In the present state of society it is difficult to imagine a race which could live on bread and vegetables alone.  Such a race, if it is existed, would infallibly be subjugated by any carnivorous army, like the Hindus  who have successively fallen prey to all their assailants; or else it would be converted by the skills in cookery of its neighbours, like the Boeotians of old, who became gourmands after the battle of Leuctra.


Gourmandism also has considerable fiscal importance; toll dues, customs duties, and indirect taxes thrive on it.  Everything we consume pays tribute, and gourmands are the chief mainstay of every nation’s wealth.

What shall we say of the swarm of cooks who for centuries past have left France to exploit gourmandism of other lands?  Most of them success in their endeavours, and obeying an instinct which never dies in a Frenchman’s heart, bring back to their native soil the fruits of their economy.  The access of wealth is more important that might be imagined, and these men, like the others, will have their genealogical tree.

It nations were grateful, none would have better reason than France to raise altars and a temple to Gourmandism.”

So there you have all you need to know on Gourmandism.


28 thoughts on “The Pleasures of the Table 4

  1. ***** I conclude that lexicographers excellent fellows though they may be in other respects are not to be numbered among those charming scholars who eat a partridge wing with easy grace, and wash it down, little finger in the air, with a glass of Lafite or Glos Vougeot.***

    FABulous writing!

    Mandy, I recieved your card. THANK YOU. you. are. beautiful.

    I loved it!

    Kim xxx

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