Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eating and Drinking: An Anthology for Epicures

Eating and Drinking jacket

I recently picked up a copy of Eating and Drinking: An Anthology for Epicures (Ebury Press, 1961) for just a few dollars and have been thoroughly enjoying it. It was edited by Peter Hunt (presumably this same editor and critic, though I'm not certain), and consists of quotes, excerpts, poetry and illustrations about food and drink, cheerfully stuffed into a busy pink binding. Here, I'll let it tell you about itself:

Eating and Drinking - jacket flap

Eating and Drinking back cover binding Eating and Drinking spine Eating and Drinking front cover binding

The illustration on the binding is Dickie Doyle's The Wedding Breakfast, 1849;
the painting on the jacket is May Day Picnic by Pál Szinyei Merse, 1873.

A good number of passages in the Anthology have been familiar to me (e.g., the clam chowder from Moby Dick) but these are gratifyingly interspersed among those from obscure, unexpected, and out-of-print sources. There is, for example, a reminiscence of a meal with Ronald Firbank — who was apparently in a hurry, expecting local WW1-era military authorities to sweep him up like a butterfly in a net should they discover him lingering over lunch —  from Grant Richards's Author Hunting.

I'd love to compile a contemporary anthology of similarly choice bits for a willing publisher. I suspect I am housing at least a third of said anthology in my mental attic and would very much like to clear it out to make room for new belongings.

Some of my favorite parts thus far:

Eating and Drinking - the ideal cuisine

This sound and concisely-put opinion marks the second time this week that Norman Douglas has appeared on my radar; he also popped up in my current subway reading (Cyril Connolly's Enemies of Promise), where he sounds very much worth reading.

A game involving a chicken's wishbone for you to try when you next encounter one:

Eating and Drinking - merrythought wishbone game

Of special interest to Anglophilic eaters, a poem about Melton Mowbray pork pie:

Eating and Drinking - A Melton Mowbray Pork-pie
Some of the most memorable passages in the book, like some of the most memorable meals in life, concern unpleasantries encountered while traveling. Here's one about an unsatisfactory vegetable.

Eating and Drinking - An Unsatisfactory Vegetable part 1
Eating and Drinking - An Unsatisfactory Vegetable part 2

Ways in which breakfast is like love:

Eating and Drinking - breakfast is like love

I'm less sure about this next one:

Eating and Drinking - soup and fish

I'm sure we can all agree, however, that many times wine causeth head-melancholy:

Eating and Drinking - wine a cause of melancholy

There are illustrations throughout the book, and a handful of color plates.

Eating and Drinking - Searle illustration
St Trinian's girls gathering mushrooms by Ronald Searle

Eating and Drinking - The Oyster Luncheon

The Oyster Luncheon by Jean François de Troy

In closing, a poem about halibut that may inspire us all to look at dinner more thoughtfully:

Eating and Drinking - halibut 1
Eating and Drinking - halibut 2

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