But the cook in Sosipater's Liar is a great sophist, and in no respect inferior to the physicians in impudence. And he speaks as follows—
A. My art, if you now rightly do consider it,
Is not, O Demylus, at all an art
To be consider'd lightly;—but alas,
'Tis too much prostituted; and you'll find
That nearly all men fear not to profess
That they are cooks, though the first principles
Of the great art are wholly strange to them;
And so the whole art is discredited.
But when you meet an honest, genuine cook,
Who from his childhood long has learnt the art,
And knows its great effects, and has its rules
Deep buried in his mind; then, take my word,
You'll find the business quite a different thing.
There are but three of us now left in Greece;
Boidion, and Chariades, and I;
The rest are all the vilest of the vile.
A. I mean it. We alone preserve
The school of Sicon: he was the great teacher
Of all our art: he was the first who taught us
To scan the stars with judgment: the great Sicon!
Then, next to this he made us architects:
He open'd too the paths of physical knowledge;
And after this he taught us all the rules
[p. 596] Of military science; for all these
Were but preliminaries accessory
To the preeminent, god-like art of cooking.
B. I think you mean to choke me, my good friend.
A. Not I; but till the boy comes back from market
I'll stir you up a little with some rules
About your art, since we can never have
A more convenient time for talking of it.
B. Oh, by Apollo, you're a zealous man.
A. Listen, my friend. In the first place, a cook
Must the sublimer sciences have learnt:
He must know when the stars do set and rise,
And why. Moreover, when the sun returns,
Causing the long and short days on the earth;
And in what figures of the zodiac
He is from time to time. For, men do say
All fish, and every meat and herb we eat,
Have different qualities at different seasons
Of the revolving year; and he who knows
The principles and reasons of these things
Will use each meat when it is most in season;
And he who knows them not, but acts at random,
Is always laugh'd at most deservedly.
Perhaps, too, you don't know wherein the science
Of th' architect can bear on this our art.
B. Indeed I wondered what it had to do with it.
A. I'll tell you:—rightly to arrange the kitchen,
To let in just the light that's requisite,
To know the quarter whence the winds blow most,
Are all of great importance in this business—
For smoke, according to which way it goes,
Makes a great difference when you dress a dinner.
B. That may be; but what need is there, I pray,
For cooks to have the science of generals?
A. Order is a prevailing principle
In every art; and most of all in ours:
For to serve up and take away each dish
In regular order, and to know the time
When quick t' advance them, and when slowly bring,
And how each guest may feel towards the supper,
And when hot dishes should be set before him,
When warm ones, and when regular cold meat
Should be served up, depends on various branches
Of strategetic knowledge, like a general's.
B. Since then you've shown me what I wish'd to know,
May you, departing now, enjoy yourself.