The Gourmet by Muriel Barbery

Gallery

the-gourmet

The gleam in his eyes is extinguished as quickly as it flared. Disgusted, he turns away, pays, and I am once again relegated to the solitary confinement of his indifference.

No. I won’t go. I’ve already mourned the father I didn’t have.

Tasting is an act of pleasure, and writing about that pleasure is an artistic gesture, but the only true work of art, in the end, is another person’s feast.

The real ordeal is not leaving those you love but learning to live without those who don’t love you.

If bread ‘suffices unto itself’, it is because it is multiple, not because it exists in multiple variants but in its very essence: bread is rich, bread is diverse, bread is microcosm. In bread one can find dazzling variety, akin to a miniature world, which reveals its inner workings as it is consumed.

People think that children don’t know anything. It’s enough to make you wonder if grownups were ever children once upon a time.

I know that they’re all unhappy because nobody loves the right person the way they should and because they don’t understand that it’s really their own self that they’re mad at.

Pastries . . . can only be appreciated to the full extent of their subtlety when they are not eaten to assuage our hunger, when the orgy of their sugary sweetness is not destined to full some primary need but to coat our palate with all the benevolence of the world.

I am going to die, but that is of no importance.

A man who farts in bed . . . is a man who loves life.

Words: repositories for singular realities which they then transform into memories in an anthology, magicians that change the face of reality by adorning it with the right to become memorable, to be placed in a library of memories.

What is writing, no matter how lavish the pieces, if it says nothing of the truth, cares little for the heart, and is merely subservient to the pleasure of showing one’s brilliance.

Wine is the refined jewel that only a grown woman will prefer to the sparkling trinkets adored by little girls.

Talent consists not in inventing shapes but in causing those that were invisible to emerge.

The French are often, when it comes to wine, so formal that they border on the ridiculous.

No one was the least bit hungry anymore, but that is precisely what is so good about the moment devoted to pastries; they can only be appreciated to the full extent of their subtlety when they are not eaten to assuage our hunger, when the orgy of their sugary sweetness is not destined to fill some primary need but to coat our palate with all the benevolence of the world.

This is the end of an epic tale, the story of my coming of age, which, like in the novels of the same description, went from wonder to ambition, from ambition to disillusion, and from disillusion to cynicism.

The raw tomato, devoured in the garden when freshly picked, is a horn of abundance of simple sensations, a radiating rush in one’s mouth that brings with it every pleasure. . . . a tomato, an adventure.

Words: repositories for singular realities which they then transform into moments in an anthology, magicians that change the face of reality by adorning it with the right to become memorable, to be placed in a library of memories. Life exists only by virtue of the osmosis of words and facts, where the former encase the latter in ceremonial dress. Thus, the words of my chance acquaintances, crowning the meal with an unprecedented grace, had almost formed the substance of my feast in spite of myself, and what I had enjoyed so merrily was the verb, not the meat.

A flavor…what do you think, old madman, what do you think? That if you find a lost flavor you will eradicate decades of misunderstanding and find yourself confronted with a truth that might redeem the aridity of your heart of stone? And yet he had in his possession all the arms that make for the best duelist: a fine way with his pen, nerve, panache. His prose…his prose was nectar, ambrosia, a hymn to language: it was gut-wrenching, and it hardly mattered whether he was talking about food or something else, it would be a mistake to think that the topic mattered: it was the way he phrased it that was so brilliant.

A terroir only exists by virtue of one’s childhood mythology . . . we have invented these words of tradition rooted deep in the land and identity of a region . . . because we want to solidify and objectify the magical, bygone years that preceded the horror of becoming an adult.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s