Now, after all this conversation, there was brought in the dish which is called Rhoduntia; concerning which that wise cook quoted numbers of tragedies before he would tell us what he was bringing us. And he laughed at those who [p. 637] professed to be such admirable cooks, mentioning whom, he said—Did that cook in the play of Anthippus, the comic poet, ever invent such a dish as this?—the cook, I mean, who, in the Veiled Man, boasted in this fashion:—
A. Sophon, an Ararnanian citizen,
And good Democritus of Rhodes, were long
Fellow-disciples in this noble art,
And Labdacus of Sicily was their tutor.
These men effaced all vulgar old recipes
Out of their cookery books, and took away
The mortar from the middle of the kitchen.
They brought into disuse all vinegar,
Cummin, and cheese, and assafœtida,
And coriander seed, and all the sauces
Which Saturn used to keep within his cruets.
And the cook who employ'd such means they thought
A humbug, a mere mountebank in his art.
They used oil only, and clean plates, O father,
And a quick fire, wanting little bellows:
With this they made each dinner elegant.
They were the first who banish'd tears and sneezing,
And spitting from the board; and purified
The manners of the guests. At last the Rhodian,
Drinking some pickle by mistake, did die;
For such a draught was foreign to his nature.
B. 'Twas likely so to be.
A. But Sophon still
Has all Ionia for his dominions,
And he, O father, was my only tutor.
And I now study philosophic rules,
Wishing to leave behind me followers,
And new discover'd rules to guide the art.
B. Ah! but, I fear, you'll want to cut me up,
And not the animal we think to sacrifice.
A. To-morrow you shall see me with my books,
Seeking fresh precepts for my noble art;
Nor do I differ from th' Aspendian.
And if you will, you too shall taste a specimen
Of this my skill. I do not always give
The self-same dishes to all kinds of guests;
But I regard their lives and habits all.
One dish I set before my friends in love,
Another's suited to philosophers,
Another to tax-gatherers. A youth
Who has a mistress, quickly will devour
His patrimonial inheritance;
So before him I place fat cuttle-fish
Of every sort; and dishes too of fish
Such as do haunt the rocks, all season'd highly
[p. 638] With every kind of clear transparent sauce.
For such a man cares nought about his dinner,
But all his thoughts are on his mistress fix'd.
Then to philosophers I serve up ham,
Or pettitoes; for all that crafty tribe
Are wonderful performers at the table.
Owls, eels, and spars I give the publicans,
When they're in season, but at other times
Some lentil salad. And all funeral feasts
I make more splendid than the living ones.
For old men's palates are not critical;
At least not half so much as those of youths.
And so I give them mustard, and I make them
Sauces of pungent nature, which may rouse
Their dormant sense, and make it snug the air;
And when I once behold a face, I know
The dishes that its owner likes to eat.