Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

A.J. Liebling remembered

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Someone mentioned having to choose between two foods at Thanksgiving, and the following quotation from A.J. Liebling sprang to mind. It’s from his book Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris, which I read decades ago — but which, as you see, I still recall. (I didn’t remember the complete quotation, but the overall anecdote and the closing line, which was enough to find it.)

The primary requisite for writing well about food is a good appetite. Without this, it is impossible to accumulate, within the allotted span, enough experience of eating to have anything worth setting down. Each day brings only two opportunities for field work, and they are not to be wasted minimizing the intake of cholesterol. They are indispensable, like a prizefighter’s hours on the road…A good appetite gives an eater room to turn around in. For example, a nonprofessional eater I know went to the Restaurant Pierre, in the Place Gaillon, a couple of years ago, his mind set on a sensibly light meal; a dozen, or possibly eighteen, oysters, and a thick chunk of steak topped with bone marrow, which M. Pierre calls a Delice de la Vilette–the equivalent of a “Stockyards’ Delight.” But as he arrived, he heard M. Pierre say to his headwaiter, “Here comes Monsieur L. Those two portions of cassoulet that are left–put them aside for him.” A cassoulet is a substantial dish, of a complexity precluding its discussion here…M. Pierre is the most amiable of restaurateurs, who prides himself on knowing in advance what his friends will like. A client of limited appetite would be obliged either to forgo his steak or to hurt M. Pierre’s feelings. Monsieur L., however, was in no difficulty. He ate the two cassoulets, as was his normal practice; if he had consumed only one, his host would have feared that it wasn’t up to standard. He then enjoyed his steak. The oysters offered no problem, since they present no bulk.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2020 at 10:21 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Food

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