Balzac's Omelette

Balzac's Omelette

A Delicious Tour of French Food and Culture With Honoré De Balzac

Book - 2011
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"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 . Balzac uses them as a connecting thread in his novels, showing how food can evoke character, atmosphere, class, and social climbing more suggestively than money, appearances, and other more conventional trappings.

Full of surprises and insights, Balzac's Omelette invites you to taste anew Balzac's genius as a writer and his deep understanding of the human condition, its ambitions, its flaws, and its cravings.
Publisher: New York : Other Press, c2011.
ISBN: 9781590514733
Branch Call Number: 843.7 Muhlstei 10/2011
Characteristics: xvi, 230 p. :,ill., map ;,19 cm.
Additional Contributors: Hunter, Adriana


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Literary analysis that uses Balzac as a guide to nineteenth-centrury French gastronomy.

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Aug 17, 2018

In the style of Molière, Balzac uses food as description for people; known or unknown.

(In the mud, eating crow, whenever they can get it; tell me who they are.)

FindingJane Jan 29, 2016

This book is a gustatory delight, a thorough and rollicking edible romp through the works of one of Europe’s most prolific authors. Touching mainly on Balzac’s sprawling oeuvre “The Human Comedy”, Ms. Muhlstein’s critical eye misses nothing that made Balzac great; she merely sheds a more interesting light on it.

Balzac adored writing about food, whipping up dizzying metaphors connecting food to aspects of everyday life. From comparing a young girl’s kiss to being like honey to seeing a cathedral in the shining scales of a fish, he managed to paint unforgettable pictures of all of his characters, their surroundings and their world. Oddly, he doesn’t dwell much on the taste of the food—evidently he felt that was unimportant—but he understood that the consumption or denial of food, wine and sex were intimately intertwined.

Ms. Muhlstein’s prose is accessible and deeply seductive. She does what the best literary essayists do—she makes you hungry to peruse the author’s works yourself. I know find myself yearning for Balzac. Even if you yourself don’t rush out to find “Cousin Bette” or “Father Goriot”, you might find yourself craving a heap of oysters.


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