Behind the French Menu gives a tasty background to French cuisine, French dishes, how they are made and how they should be served.
Where there is a story behind a dish's creation and
that story may aid the diner's enjoyment then that will also be included. Bon appétit!
Epicurus – Epicurus was a Greek philosopher (341 –270 BCE), and for
the last two hundred years or so his name has
been used to label people who enjoy good food and wine. Today, if you know
about and enjoy good food and wine you are an epicure. The
only problem is, that when they handed out his name to foodies
they had the wrong information.
Epicurus, never wrote
about food and wine,
For Epicurus food and wine was no more than
a basic need. He had been, incorrectly. branded a hedonist by the early
Church. Epicurious was a very gentle person who believed in the rights of
man and a hedonist is a person who only lives for personal pleasure.
No damage has been done even if today's food-centric Epicures
know little of Epicurus's philosophy. If you like good food and wine
then today you are an epicure, and that
is not bad at all. If you also like the philosophy of Epicurus in
addition to good food and wine then you will be an epicure twice over.
Epicurus’s gentle philosophy did, however,
influence many of those who studied
The most well-known of his students, in the era of the
enlightenment, was the British philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). John
Locke’s own works went on to influence the founding fathers of the USA, and the
French men and women who drafted France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and
the Citizen in 1798.
The authors of France's Declaration of the Rights of Man and the
Citizen influenced and were influenced by the authors of the American
Bill of Rights; that is the first ten amendments of the USA
Constitution. The two documents were first published some thirty days
apart. That is quite revealing and tells much about common ideas in countries long before fax, email or telephones. The two future country's future leaders worked together for the
freedom of their citizens.
The US Declaration of Independence.
The second paragraph of the declaration of independence was heavily
edited by Thomas Jefferson together with Benjamin Franklin and John
Adams. Their work shows the influence of John Locke, the most
famous of Epicurus's disciples; their original drafts remain and they note
the self-evident truths:
We hold these truths to
be self-evident: that all men are created equal;
that they are endowed
by their Creator with certain unalienable rights;
that among these are
life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
John Locke (1632 – 1704).
John Adams (1735 –
1826), Benjamin Franklin (January 1705-1790), Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Epicurus the man.
Epicurus was branded
a hedonist by early Church philosophers, at the time when they were trying
to make ancient Greek philosophy fit the teaching of the early Church. Far from
being a hedonist Epicurus was a gentle, thoughtful man, a philosopher who
believed that individuals can happily live this life on earth with kindness and
friendship; he taught moderation and personal responsibility.
Under the heading
The Pursuit of Happiness
I include the enjoyment of good
food and wine.
Bryan G Newman
Behind The French Menu
For information of the unpublished book behind
this blog contact Bryan Newman