“Tell me where you eat, what you eat, and at what time you eat, and I will tell you who you are.” This is the motto of Anka Muhlstein’s erudite and witty book about the ways food and the art of the table feature in Honoré de Balzac’s The Human Comedy.
(Garçon, un Cent d’Huîtres! Balzac et la Table)*
By Anka Muhlstein
It is not a coincidence that Balzac was the first in French literature to tackle this appetizing topic. Before the French Revolution, a traveler in France was apt to find local food scarce, tastless, and of doubtful appearance. Restaurants did not even exist! Just as cuisine became a centerpiece of French mores, Balzac used it as a connecting thread in his novels, showing how food can evoke character, atmosphere, class, and social climbing. How better to decipher the lady of the house’s personality than through her relationship with her cook or the color of her broth? Full of surprises and insights, Balzac’s Omelette invites you to taste anew French literature and gastronomy.
* Waiter, a Hundred Oysters! Balzac and Food
We are pleased to announce that Balzac’s Omelette will be the group read for September at the French Literature group. Please join us.