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“Is it progress if a cannibal uses knife and fork?”
Stanislaus Lec (1909-1966)
"The ranks of every profession concerned with the sale or preparation of food, including cooks, caterers, confectioners, pastry cooks, provision merchants and the like, have multiplied in ever-increasing proportions . . . New Professions have arisen; that, for example, of the pastry cook--in his domain are biscuits, macaroons, fancy cakes, meringues . . . The art of preserving has also become a profession in itself, whereby we are enabled to enjoy, at all times of the year, things naturally peculiar to one or other season . . . French cookery has annexed dishes of foreign extraction . . . A wide variety of vessels, utensils and accessories of every sort has been invented, so that foreigners coming to Paris find many objects on the table the very names of which they know not, nor dare to ask their use."
Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
"Progress in civilization has been accompanied by progress in cookery."
“The economy of the kitchen is only a counterpart, in its simplicity or complication, its rudeness or luxury, of the economy of the State. The perfectibility of cookery indicates the perfectibility of society. The progress of cookery is the progress of civilisation.”
Frederick W. Hackwood, ‘Good Cheer’ (1911)
“As in the fine arts, the progress of mankind from barbarism to civilisation is marked by a gradual succession of triumphs over the rude materialities of nature, so in the art of cookery is the progress gradual from the earliest and simplest modes, to those of the most complicated and refined.”
Isabella Beeton (1836-1865)
‘The Book of Household Management’ (1861)
“Every year the number of new cookbooks increases, but in spite of them the progress made in this most useful of the arts is not ever overpowering. On the contrary, we must regretfully admit that nowadays people no longer prepare the fine and nourishing dishes that our mothers used to make.”
Anna Dorn, Cookbook Author (1834)
"Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better. But it is true that we have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us. The lines of change are down. We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for they can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain."
John Steinbeck, ‘Travels With Charley: In Search of America’ (1962)
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