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August 2016 Issue [Readings]

Something About Eating


By Robert Walser (1878–1956), from Girlfriends, Ghosts, and Other Stories, a collection that will be published next month by NYRB Classics. Translated from the German by Tom Whalen.

Today I am discoursing on food, which is a necessity and at the same time can be a pleasure.

An apple at first seems to me a fine comestible, although I fear for a tooth when I bite into it. I prefer to eat it cooked rather than in its natural state.

Pears taste scrumptiously succulent. Nuts I handle with care, in that I chop them up fine in order to enhance their flavor.

Bread is as nutritious as it is delicious, if handled moderately. In my opinion a piece of chocolate can replace a cup of coffee.

Next in line comes meat, which naturally, of course, is something wonderful. How superbly baked fish agrees with me. Veal and lamb, each on its own, can also be most appetizing.

Beets are red, spinach and lettuce green, likewise beans, which perhaps I prefer above all other vegetables. Chicken in a sauce can be recommended as something tender.

Nonetheless, carefully prepared roast beef reinvigorates me to the utmost degree. I have a special predilection for eating sauerkraut with sausage.

Without hesitation I declare rice one of the most agreeable foods. In no way does asparagus seem indispensable; all the same, I appreciate it as a delicacy and highly esteem its digestibility.

Every sensible person sincerely praises a bowl of soup. From cherries and apricots we make pies.

Meals are eaten either at home or in a restaurant, bringing differences to light that aren’t necessarily significant.

Wherever we eat, certain useful precepts learned from experience are observed, for example, the little bit of politeness with which we sit down at the table and which consists, among other things, of our being satisfied with both the quantity of the dishes and their quality.

To treat food attentively enhances its value.

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