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Pleasures of the table

        See also:
• –» Epicurus
• –» Brillat-Savarin 
• –» Italian food
• –» Caesar’s last salad
“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), British novelist
A Room of One’s Own, ch. 1 (1929.)
“Those who have a profound indifference to the pleasures of the table are generally gloomy, charmless and unamiable.”
Lucien Tendret (1825-1896), French lawyer and gastronome;great-nephew of Brillat-Savarin.
Epicurus taught that the physical world was all there was, that it had always existed and would last forever. Not only was there no Creator, there was no God in charge of the universe to give life purpose. Men simply lived and then died – so while he is alive a man should seek to maximise pleasure and minimize pain. Philosophy was described by Epicurus as “the art of making life happy”. For me the way to find happiness, has nothing to with money but more to do with the friends that you keep and to be just as choosy with whom you eat with as with what you eat and drink of course !

I have a deep appreciation for good food, wine, and lively conversation—the pleasures of the table. There is nothing as satisfying as discovering a bottle of wine with a beautiful color, sensual aroma and a delightful taste. While the kitchen is primarily the workspace of a master craftsman, it is also an intensely personalized space where everything that I use on a daily basis provokes memory about friends, relationships, events, and places of significance in my life. Having a good stove is essential, I love my italian Boretti stove with the six gas burners and the wok burner.

I use a Global’s Forged Chef’s Knife (21cm), these knives, they are made by Yoshikin in Japan from the finest Cromova 18 stainless steel. These great Japanese knives balance perfectly in your hand owing to the handle’s well-thought-out shape. I put some pictures on this page, my kitchen, the table set by Hélène and some food I prepared.

I love to prepare a dinner for friends, my wife Hé1ène sets a beautiful table (picture below) and is a perfect hostess. My favorite food, is (of course) French local food (paysan), Italian, but also Thai and Indonesian.

But the Italian cuisine I love the best. It is all about home made cooking, remember that Italian food has evolved from a peasant cuisine, meaning that meals were often based on what was in the pantry and how much time one had to make a dish. Italian cooking is very difficult to pin down — almost every city and town has its specialties, and there are regional trends too; the end result is a huge number of local cuisines rather than a single national cuisine.

Culinarily, Italy is an incredibly diverse country — dishes, ingredients, cooking times, and spicings change radically from one region to the next. However, the basic philosophy of the meal, seen as an occasion for friends or family to gather around the table and share a relaxed interval before leaping back into the fray (during the work week) remains constant. And that’s what I love about it.

France is a place we visit often, recently we made a gourmet-wine trip. We started in the Loire valley, famous for its white wines, but we discovered also the lovely red wines of the Saumur and Chinon. Then on to the Bordeaux, we tasted the great wines and discovered the less known ones. Further on to the Dordogne area, stayed at Chateau de Vigiers in the south and spend a last night in the Royal Champagne Hotel near Epernay. We had a great time, gained a few pounds of course (no pain no gain !). Then back home with the back of the car loaded with foie gras, wine and champagne!

Then later on we stayed in Florence, Italy for a week. Hélènes sister Marion, who is a PhD art historian and teaches art in San Diego, California, was invited for a study abroad program in Italy. She had a this great little appartment in the center of old Florence (di fronte di Palazzo Strotzi!) and a spare bedroom. So we packed our bags and off we went! Florence cuisine arose from the peasant fare of the surrounding countryside. Characterized by rustic dishes created with fresh ingredients and simple preparations, Tuscan food ranks among the world’s best. We had a great gourmet Italian week.

Oh yeah, thank you for paying me a visit.
May all your wines have a good year.

Cees