"Gluttony is ranked with the deadly sins; it should be honored among the cardinal virtues", Elizabeth Robins Pennell declaims in this sparkling paean to the art of eating well. An ebullient guide to "the Beauty, the Poetry that exists in the perfect dish, even as in the masterpiece of a Titian or a Swinburne", "The Delights of Delicate Eating" is a choice collection, originally published in 1896, of the culinary essays Pennell wrote for London's "Pall Mall Gazette". A native of Philadelphia and long-term resident of London, Pennell developed a discerning appreciation of fine food in the company of James Whistler, Henry James, Bernard Shaw, and other cultural elite of London society. She began her career as a food writer, she confesses, "in spite of the fact that I couldn't boil an egg and my only qualifications were a healthy appetite and an honest love of a good dinner usually considered unbecoming to the sex". Her aim was to show that a woman could practice cooking as an art, preparing a complete aesthetic experience that combined exquisite flavors with a beautiful table, a soothing room, and lively conversation.
"The Delights of Delicate Eating" elevates "our daily bread" to a feast for the senses. Assuring the reader that "a woman who has mastered sauces sits on the apex of civilisation", Pennell dispenses instructions for preparing classic dishes such as oeufs aux saussicons, Bouillabaisse, and sole meuniere, as well as advice on transforming an ordinary meal into "a joyful anticipation and a cherished memory". She leads the reader through the culinary delights of the day, from the fresh rolls of a solitary petit dejeuner through elaborate autumnal and midsummer dinners complete with spotless linen, flawless silver, cut flowers in vases of Venetian glass, and, of course, coffee. "The guest who does not know good coffee when it is set before him deserves to be cast into outer darkness", Pennell says. "Better far throw pearls before swine, than pour good coffee into the cups of the indifferent". Pennell sets good eating as the basis for good living, a healthy imagination, a happy marriage, stimulating conversation, and satisfying social intercourse. For all who would embrace such benefits, "The Delights of Delicate Eating" offers a lovely diversion.
Buy The Delights of Delicate Eating book by Elizabeth Robins Pennell from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
(178mm x 109mm x 22mm)
University of Illinois Press
Publisher: University of Illinois Press
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