The Larousse Gastronomique

Such a book!
An encyclopedia,
eleven hundred ninety three pages,
worthy binding, select paper,
succulent illustration!
Most prestigious publisher!
Most illustrious authors!

Think it an encomium,
an acclamation,
a celebrarion of ladle and chafing dish,
condiment, bouillabaisse, pate,
sauces vierge, batarde, Chateaubriand,
biscuit and fritter and croissant,
cheeses of the cow, the goat, the ewe,
wines of Alsace, Meursault, Cote du Ventoux,
chefs and restaurants and bon vivants of legend.

Browsing, one finds that a mique is a dumpling,
Tours is famous for prunes,
in Foix they grill snails over a bonfire of vines.

How ethnic are the souffle Simone,
petite marmite a la parisienne,
entrecote grand-mere, hare mousse,
lapwings’ eggs princesse.

Think it a progress,
a canto of anthropology,
an elevation of goinfre or goulu,
who understand only a gluttonous hunger,
to gourmand or gourmet or gastronome,
persons of sensibility, one presumes,
who converse of Degas and nuances of appetite,
of aroma and palate and Debussy,
of the kings, the Pompadours, and the grande cuisine.

Browsing, one finds that Chinon wines smell of violets
and Bourgueil of raspberries,
that blackbirds are cooked like thrushes.

How ethnic are the amandines duchesse,
foie gras a la financiere,
sole Colbert, quails en chemise,
madeleines de Commercy.

Or think it, perhaps,
a syndrome
such as old socialists knew, deep in Montmartre,
or Baudelaire, cultivating his hysteria
on eerie, empty, surrealist boulevards
at hazard of pure possibility,
or Flaubert, in his letters becoming Emma Bovary,
Ingres, Delacroixx, Voltaire, Descartes,
yearning for an ultimate, an exquisite significance.

Browsing, one finds histories of Brie and the brioche,
delectations of Saint-Sans and Colette,
recipes for offal of geese cooked in their blood.

How ethnic are the charlotte Majestic,
pigs’ ears au gratin,
magrets de canard, omelette Tallyrand,
eel a la bonne femme.

Oliver Rice

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