Skip to main content

An anecdote for IT

Grimod de Reyniere was a famous gourmand of pre-revolutionary and revolutionary France. We have mentioned him in an earlier post. He is mentioned by Nerval as an esprit faible – Nerval tells the story of the two philosophical feasts that were given by Grimod in the Roman fashion, at which women with long hair were scattered among the guests so that their hair could be used by the guests to wipe their hands – just the kind of touch that drove Carlyle and Dickens crazy about the ancien regime.

Anyway, Grimod de Reyniere was notoriously fond of pigs, and not so fond of women – or at least, of his mother. I have found a quote from him from a history of feasting, Charlemagne’s Tablecloth:

Everything in a pig is good. What ingratitude has permitted its name to become a form of opprobrium?

Is there a woman, no matter how pretty she may be, who can equal … Arles sausage, that delicacy which makes the person of the pig so valuable and precious?

And yet, this pig love is a rather odd thing. Grimod de Reyniere was born with deformed hands – one was a “webbed pincer, the other like a bird’s claw, both required false hands to be fitted”. And to cover up the shame of the deformities, his parents made up a story that he had been mauled by a pig.

Of course, there are those who say the praise of the pig was ironic. And there are those who say Grimod de Reyniere spent too much time with his friend, the Marquis de Sade.

This site gives a different view of Grimod de Reyniere, and has an example of his handwriting – sadly, with his chicken claw hand, Reyniere’s handwriting is better than LI’s.


Roger Gathmann said…
ps - I'm pleased to see IT liked this story! Go here to see her pig diagram.