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He ridicules the absurdity of one Catius, who placed the summit of human felicity in the culinary art.

WHENCE, and whither, Catius? I have not time [to converse with you], being desirous of impressing on my memory some new precepts; such as excel Pythagoras, and him that was accused by Anytus,1 and the learned Plato. I acknowledge my offense, since I have interrupted you at so unlucky a juncture: but grant me your pardon, good sir, I beseech you. If any thing should have slipped you now, you will presently recollect it: whether this talent of yours be of nature, or of art, you are amazing in both. Nay, but I was anxious, how I might retain all [these precepts]; as being things of a delicate nature, and in a delicate style. Tell me the name of this man; and at the same time whether he is a Roman, or a foreigner? As I have them by heart, I will recite the precepts: the author shall be concealed.

Remember to serve up those eggs that are of an oblong make, as being of sweeter flavor and more nutritive than the round ones: for, being toughshelled, they contain a male yelk. Cabbage that grows in dry lands, is sweeter than that about town: nothing is more insipid than a garden much watered. If a visitor should come unexpectedly upon you in the evening, lest the tough old hen prove disagreeable to his palate, you must learn to drown it in Falernian wine mixed [with water]:2 this will make it tender. The mushrooms that grow in meadows,3 are of the best kind: all others are dangerously trusted. That man shall spend his summers healthy who shall finish his dinners with mulberries4 black [with ripeness], which he shall have gathered from the tree before the sun becomes violent. Aufidius used to mix honey with strong Falernian injudiciously; because it is right to commit nothing to the empty veins, but what is emollient: you will, with more propriety, wash your stomach with soft mead. If your belly should be hard bound, the limpet and coarse cockles will remove obstructions, and leaves of the small sorrel; but not without Coan white wine. The increasing moons swell the lubricating shell-fish. But every sea is not productive of the exquisite sorts. The Lucrine muscle is better than the Baian murex: [The best] oysters come from the Circean promontory; cray-fish from Misenum: the soft Tarentum plumes herself on her broad escalops. Let no one presumptuously arrogate to himself the science of banqueting, unless the nice doctrine of tastes has been previously considered by him with exact system. Nor is it enough to sweep away a parcel of fishes from the expensive stalls, [while he remains] ignorant for what sort stewed sauce is more proper, and what being roasted, the sated guest will presently replace himself on his elbow. Let the boar from Umbria, and that which has been fed with the acorns of the scarlet oak, bend the round dishes of him who dislikes all flabby meat: for the Laurentian5 boar, fattened with flags and reeds, is bad. The vineyard does not always afford the most eatable kids. A man of sense will be fond of the shoulders of a pregnant hare. What is the proper age and nature of fish and fowl, though inquired after, was never discovered before my palate.

There are some, whose genius invents nothing but new kinds of pastry. To waste one's care upon one thing, is by no means sufficient; just as if any person should use all his endeavors for this only, that the wine be not bad; quite careless what oil he pours upon his fish. If you set out Massic6 wine in fair weather, should there be any thing thick in it, it will be attenuated by the nocturnal air, and the smell unfriendly to the nerves will go off: but, if filtrated through linen, it will lose its entire flavor. He, who skillfully mixes the Surrentine. wine with Falernian lees, collects the sediment with a pigeon's egg: because the yelk sinks to the bottom, rolling down with it all the heterogeneous parts. You may rouse the jaded toper with roasted shrimps and African cockles; for lettuce after wine floats upon the soured stomach: by ham preferably, and by sausages, it craves to be restored to its appetite: nay, it will prefer every thing which is brought smoking hot from the nasty eating-houses. It is worth while to be acquainted with the two kinds of sauce. The simple consists of sweet oil; which it will be proper to mix with rich wine and pickle, but with no other pickle than that by which the Byzantine jar has been tainted. When this, mingled with shredded herbs, has boiled, and sprinkled with Corycian saffron, has stood, you shall over and above add what the pressed berry of the Venafran olive yields. The Tiburtian yield to the Picenian apples in juice, though they excel in look. The Venusian grape is proper for [preserving in] pots. The Albanian you had better harden in the smoke. I am found to be the first that served up this grape with apples in neat little side-plates, to be the first [likewise that served up] wine-lees and herring-brine, and white pepper finely mixed with black salt. It is an enormous fault to bestow three thousand sesterces on the fish-market, and then to cramp the roving fishes in a narrow dish. It causes a great nausea in the stomach, if even the slave touches the cup with greasy hands, while he licks up snacks, or if offensive grime has adhered to the ancient goblet. In trays, in mats, in sawdust, [that are so] cheap, what great expense can there be? But, if they are neglected, it is a heinous shame. What, should you sweep Mosaic pavements with a dirty broom made of palm, and throw Tyrian carpets over the unwashed furniture of your couch! forgetting, that by how much less care and expense these things are attended, so much the more justly may [the want of them] be censured, than of those things which can not be obtained but at the tables of the rich?

Learned Catius, entreated by our friendship and the gods, remember to introduce me to an audience [with this great man], whenever you shall go to him. For, though by your memory you relate every thing to me, yet as a relater you can not delight me in so high a degree. Add to this the countenance and deportment of the man; whom you, happy in having seen, do not much regard, because it has been your lot: but I have no small solicitude, that I may approach the distant fountain-heads, and imbibe the precepts of [such] a blessed life.

1Anytique reum . Socrates, when Anytus and Melitus accused.

2 But Bentley is doubtless right in reading musto for misto.

3 Nothing is more false. The best mushrooms, generally speaking, are those gathered in woods, heaths, or downs. They are more wholesome and better flavored than those of meadows.

4 The ancients had only one meal, but they who could not wait for supper usually eat bread, figs, grapes, or mulberries in the morning. But our doctor, who loved to dine in form, taught another method, and in contradiction to Galen and the faculty, would have his disciples eat mulberries after dinner.

5 All people of taste have ever esteemed boars fed in marshy ground as of higher flavor, although Catius is of another opinion.

6 Pliny advises, that all the best Campanian wines should be exposed night and day to the sun, moon, rain, and winds.

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