KATHMANDU: Down the ages people have always had an opinion about food, which they happily made known. In about 400 AD, we have the gourmet Jerome translating the Bible into Latin and saying, “Many years ago, I had for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven, cut myself off from home, parents, sister, relations, and (hardest of all) from the dainty food to which I had become accustomed.”
At about the same time the Christian bishop Augustine said of the Manichean sect, “Who would think they sinned if they took a little bacon and cabbage with a few mouthfuls of pure wine, but will be served at three in the afternoon with every kind of vegetable; the most exquisite of mushrooms and truffles flavoured with a wealth of spices.” A hundred years later, apple pies made themselves known through Robert Greene who said in his book Arcadia, “Thy breath is like the steame of apple pyes.”
The Purtain Cromwell, who had King Charles I executed said, “Some people have food but no appetite; others have an appetite but no food. I have both, the Lord’s name be praised.”
He called Christmas pudding, “an abominable idolatrous thing”. In America in 1732, Benjamin Franklin made famous the words, “Fish and visitors smell in three day.”
George Handel’s Messiah premiered in Dublin; the composer who was a foodie, ordered dinner for two at a local inn. When the food was brought to him, the landlord asked who Handel’s companion was, “I am the company,” and ate both dinners.
Around then the famous Dr Johnson said, “A cucumber should be well-sliced and dressed with pepper and vinegar and then thrown out, as good for nothing.” He once claimed, “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
In 1844, John Turner painted Rain, Steam and Speed and said of salads, “Nice cool green, that lettuce, isn’t it? And the beetroot pretty red — not quite strong enough; and the mixture delicate tint of yellow. Add some mustard and then you have one of my pictures.”
It was the same year that Alexander Dumas wrote The Three Musketeers and declared his love for melons saying he would write solely for, “A life annuity of twelve melons per year.”
In 1878, the composer Johannes Brahms fell ill on the day he was to dine with another composer Strauss. His doctor instructed him to go on diet. “But this evening I am dining with Strauss and we shall have chicken paprika,” said Brahms. “That’s out of the question,” the doctor told him. Said the composer, “In that case, please consider that I didn’t come to consult you until tomorrow.”
From the arts to science, and we have Thomas Edison who designed the first hydroelectric plant which put electric lights in one square of New York and believed, “A pound of food a day is all I need when I am working.”
Once during a formal dinner, Edison found the company so boring he hung around the door. His host said, “It’s certainly a pleasure to see you Mr Edison, what are you working on now?”
“My exit,” responded Edison.
To Mark Twain the writer goes by favourite food quote when he quipped, “A banquet is probably the most fatiguing thing in the world except ditch digging. It is the insanest of all
Let’s end with the time when a footman spilled a jug of cream over King Edward VII who said, “My good man, I am not a strawberry.”