27 Aug 2014

Dining With Oscar Wilde

Source: Pinterest

Oscar Wilde was not only a poet, playwright, and famous English wit. He was also a great expert on food and wine. He loved both, and if you read his plays carefully, you can find out that this love to delicacies runs through almost all of his works. From "reckless extravagance" of cucumber sandwiches in The Importance of Being Earnest to the claiming the "partaking of two luncheons in one day would not be liberty. It would be license."

Of course, many of these memorable quips and aphorisms were part of his fictional heroes. But many also attributed to his most famous character: himself.

"When I am in trouble, eating is the only thing that concoles me. Indeed, when I am really in great trouble... I refuse everything except food and drink."
Algernon Moncrieff The Importance of Being Earnest, Act 2 (1895) 

Wilde was appreciated worldwide for his polish phrases, fresh analogies and poetic ingenuity. He managed to express even the most mundane into smart and sharp insights that are quoted until this point.
"A man who can dominate a London dinner-table can dominate the world."
Lord Illingworth,  A Woman of No Importance, Act 3 (1893)
"After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations."
Lady Caroline, A Woman of No Importance, Act 2 (1893)

"Now I know that all men are monsters [...] The only thing to do is to feed the wretches well. A good cook does wonders."
Duchess of Berwick, Lady Windermere's Fan (1893) 

Wilde's favourite drink was iced champagne, as he confessed during the testimony on his libel trial. In fact, the famous dandy of literature was quite obsessed about champagne. Wilde would drink champagne "at intervals" throughout his "normal" day and also gave elaborate champagne dinners. As well as pre-dinners and post-dinners. But that was at his best times. On the worst days of his imprisonment, Wilde could still order cases of his favourite 1874 Perrier-Jouёt straight to his cell.

- Iced champagne is a favourite drink of mine - strongly against my doctor's orders.
- Never mind your doctor's oders, sir?
- I never do... 
(From the cross-examination by Queenberry's defence attorney, Edward Carson)

Additionally, Wilde's aesthetic standpoint on life demanded meals to be beautifully presented. In general, food played a strong role in many aspects if Wilde's life and his writing. Many Wilde's biographers say, though, that writer's appreciation for splendid dining - emphasized so much in De Profundis - clearly had a destructive effect on him. But at least one can say that, apart from living big, loving big, and writing big, Oscar Wilde ate big, too. 
"I can't stand people who do not take food seriously." - Oscar Wilde

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