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Our founder's voice - 2

 


 

   
IWFS Food & Wine Journal, Sept 2014 pp 16 - 17

        
           
 

Our founder’s voice - on wine and food - 2

A selection from André Simon’s numerous publications - compiled by Prof. Alan F Harrison

The source of  this text is within the Guildhall Library, London - André Simon Collection.

The Blood of the Grape: the Wine Trade Text Book  - 1920 pp 4 & 5

     



     Our needs are numerous and varied and the traders upon whom we depend for the satisfaction of our needs are many and different, but none among them should be made to realize more forcibly the true purpose of commerce than those who are responsible for the supply of our food and drink.The supply of precious stones may fail for a time or their price may rise considerably without the moral and physical well-being of the race being seriously affected; but no sooner is there any falling off in the quantity or quality of our supplies of food and drink, or an appreciable increase in their cost, than the whole people suffer; their grievance is immediate and universal, the amount and quality of their work falls off, and the cost of everything goes up.

     Our usefulness in life as well as our enjoyment of life depend largely upon our bodily and mental health, and our health depends largely upon what we eat and drink. The trader who poisons his fellow men is a rogue if the greed of gain be his incentive ; he is only a fool but he is just as dangerous if he commits the same offence through sheer ignorance. There is more harm done in the world by people who mean well but know no better than by those who do not mean well but know better.

     First of all you must mean well; mean to be straight and to do the right thing, always mean to learn and to know. You must be honest at heart and willing of mind ; if you are not, I cannot hope to teach you anything but, if you are, I will do my best to make you take a legitimate pride in your trade and an intelligent interest in the living blood of the grape.

     No time given nor trouble taken by me shall I grudge, if only it may be my good fortune to teach you to value honest wine, to love it, and to make others appreciate its great charm and its greater worth.

Before telling you anything about what wine is, how it should be treated and whence it comes, I am anxious to impress upon you the fact that you belong to a branch of commerce than which there is none more honourable nor of greater antiquity, none possessing more possibilities for good and evil, none more responsible, none requiring greater knowledge and none more difficult to master.

In the United States, they killed off the native races with raw, poisonous rye spirit thanks to which fortunes were made and chapels built.

A Wine and Food Bedside Book  -   H W Yoxall, Claude Morny, André Simon  c 1940

     (Foreword by H W Yoxall.) I was a subscriber to Wine and Food from its first volume to its lamented demise; and as I re-read this selection from its pages the first effect, naturally, was the evocation of the person and personality of the magazine's founder and long-time editor, André L. Simon.

If ever there was anyone to whom the overworked vogue-epithet 'charismatic' can legitimately be applied it was to André  - as everyone called him, tout court. With his pink complexion, his lovely white hair, his rusé smile and his charming French accent — the last, I think, somewhat consciously preserved during his lengthy residence in England - he certainly had charisma.

     (And now our founder:)  The world, we know, is made up of all sorts of people; young old, good and bad, dull and brilliant. God loves them all, there are very few of them whom we like at all times of day and night, yet many do we welcome when in the mood for them; there are also quite a few for whom we have use at any time. It is the same with wine. There are all sorts of wine, young and old, good and bad, still and sparkling. There are times, moods and occasions, when young wine will give us greater pleasure than the old; others when we shall enjoy the company of the old far more than that of the young. there are are people who have been known to prefer bad wine to good, just as there are men who are fascinated by bad women.

     Of course, there are also wines and women as dull as they are good. Let us be fair. Are we not to blame? Quite possibly, it may be our faulty technique or the wrong dish that makes them dull. Diamonds sparkle on a woman's hands or head, not because you look at them or because they do their best to dazzle you, but because that is the way they happen to be ; they sparkle just as much when locked up in their case.  Wine and women are not made that way. They sparkle when you look at them, when you like them and they like you. Not otherwise. That is why the same wine and the same man may be overrated luxuries and the dearest of minister-angels. That is also why it is so fascinating to understand wine.

     
 

The Gourmet's Weekend Book -1952  The Introduction

   “Gourmets", did you say? Are there any left in our austerity times? Of course there are; there are more and keener Gourmets to-day than ever before, not so much in spite of austerity as because of austerity. Let me remind you first of all that a Gourmet is not a fellow who makes a fad of his belly, but one who has the good sense to mind his belly, and the courtesy or gratefulness to thank God for his daily bread and butter, and jam. In the good old days, when there was always plenty and to spare, there was little need to bother about one's meals: we could leave it to cook and be tolerably sure that there would always be something good on the table, and often something new as well. But times have changed. Meals to-day are news. 

     There are some foods, and some of the best, like cream, which are no longer available; there are others which are in short supply and of distinctly poorer quality: what makes it worse is the fact that the same may truly be said of cooks: good cooks are in very short supply and so dear that most of us have no option but to do without them and look after ourselves. This is by no means a major disaster. It merely means that we have to take more immediate and a more intelligent interest in that incapable necessity of keeping body and soul together.

The Sale of Wine: the Supply, the Care and the Sale of Wine - 1923

     MAN—and needless to say man embraces woman —has a body which requires food and rest just as much as the body of all living creatures. But man—even when he is a brute—is never a mere animal; he is blessed or cursed not only with a restless soul but also with a mind that requires, just like the body, both food and relaxation. In all times and among all civilised peoples, this imperious want has been felt and has been supplied by literature and by Wine.
     Literature in all its forms—that is the written or spoken word —supplies both food and relaxation such as are needed by the brain to grow and attain to its full development. Wine is closely allied to literature ; it has also supplied man's brain from the earliest times with both food and relaxation. The cinema has shattered the monopoly which the drama held for many centuries in popular favour, and ardent spirits have, in a like manner, undermined the ancient fame of Wine.
     The Wine Trade is not in a nourishing condition, neither is the drama, but both have lived so long and passed through so many crises that I, for one, refuse to believe either is doomed. All I am prepared to grant to pessimists is that, if dramatists equal in every way in talent and genius to those who graced the reign of Queen Elizabeth were to grace the Court of King George V, their plays would not receive the same measure of popular support as did those of the Elizabethan dramatists …

Everybody's Guide to Wines and Spirits -1966   Chapter 1 - The Wine Trade
Commerce is a public service and not merely a money-making device. A teacher is a bad teacher whose paramount concern is his pay and not his pupils. So also is he a bad trader whose sole ambition is to buy cheaply and to sell quickly, one who takes no pride in his trade, whose greed is his law and whose least concern is the good of his fellow men.
The trader needs to know all he can about his trade, since he has to secure the supplies which he will distribute, and, without knowledge, it will be impossible for him to secure the right quality of goods at the right price.
There are times when supplies are so scarce and so difficult to procure that the question of fair quality and fair prices no longer exists. It is our misfortune to labour under abnormal conditions, born of war, and to live in times when dark clouds completely hide from view the bright star which should be the guiding light of all trades ....
 

     
   end of published text

additional text follows
 
     
   The Blood of the Grape: the Wine Trade Text Book - 1920 here

 Guildhall Library, London - Andre Simon Collection ref - WTC 655




A Wine and Food Bedside Book  -   H W Yoxall, Claude Morny, André Simon

continuing from the above text

he certainly had charisma.
 

It was this quality that enabled him to persuade authors of the calibre of Hilaire Belloc, E. M. Forster, Osbert Sitwell, Cyril Connolly and Warner Alien to write for a magazine little-known in its debut and never claiming more than a few thousand readers, for the reward of a case of wine, or just a well-chosen lunch, or even nothing but a graceful letter of thanks. Andre was the sort of person who had only to ask you to do a thing for you to do it, out of affection.

There have been quite a number of men who have known a lot about wine, and quite a number of men and women who have known a lot about food; but very few who have known as much about both wine and food as Andre. Certainly the growth of interest in gastronomy in this country, and indeed in the whole English-speaking world, owes more to him than to anyone else.

9

                                    source 

 

                                                                       ANDRE L. SIMON

                                                                            DEFINITIONS

It is it not strange that the English, who love their food more than the French, have never coined any words of their own for gourmand, gourmet and gastronome? Throughout the whole of the English-speaking world those three French words are accepted at their face value and they have retained their original meaning.

Gourmand is the greedy fellow who does not mind very much about quality so long as he gets a lot: even when he is not actually asking, he is hoping for more.

Gourmet is the 'choosey' eater with definite likes and dislikes of his own, who prefers quality to quantity.

Gastronome is the cultured and knowledgeable gourmet: his approach to all that is best to eat and drink is that of the epicurean philosopher who recognizes the ethical value of the amenities of a gracious way of living; it is not that of the materialist whose chief concern is merely sensual gratification.

Gastronomes do not 'live to eat', nor do they eat and drink only because they must to keep alive. They eat their bread with joy and they drink their wine with a merry heart' as we read in Holy Writ. (Ecclesiastes ix, 7.)

The greater number of gastronomes there will be in the world, the happier a world it will be.

31
 

A Wine and Food Bedside Book - Andre Simon  

Guildhall Library, London  - Andre Simon Collection ref - AS936


 

The Gourmet's Weekend Book -  Andre Simon 1952  

Guildhall Library, London  - Andre Simon Collection ref - ED 290


 

The Sale of Wine: the Supply, the Care and the Sale of Wine - 1923

Amazon - published by Duckworth here   

 

 Everybody's Guide to Wines and Spirits 

The additional text is in black.

CHAPTER I

THE WINE TRADE

COMMERCE is a public service and not merely a money-making device. A teacher is a bad teacher whose paramount concern is his pay and not his pupils. So also is he a bad trader whose sole ambition is to buy cheaply and to sell quickly, one who takes no pride in his trade, whose greed is his law and whose least concern is the good of his fellow men.

The trader needs to know all he can about his trade, since he has to secure the supplies which he will distribute, and, without knowledge, it will be impossible for him to secure the right quality of goods at the right price.

There are times when supplies are so scarce and so difficult to procure that the question of fair quality and fair prices no longer exists. It is our misfortune to labour under abnormal conditions, born of war, and to live in times when dark clouds completely hide from  

      source 

view the bright star which should be the guiding light of all trades ....

3

 

WHATEVER use or misuse we make of our chances; whatever odds are against us in our struggle for existence; whatever share of the world's good things is ours; whatever aims and ambitions we cherish; we have both to work and play, fight and rest, spend our strength and recuperate.

The amount and the quality of work which we are able to do, as well as the extent and degree of enjoyment which we derive from life, depend to a considerable extent upon the quantity and quality of our food and drink.

The speed of a liner is due to its design and engines in the first place, but the quality of the fuel used is also most important.

Of all laws which govern the human race there is none more universal than that man shall eat and drink. Was there ever a subject of greater personal interest, in all times and amongst all nations, than the study of our food and beverages? Our bodily health, disposition of temper, brain power, physical energy, moral courage, intellectual activity, all are affected in a marked degree by what we eat and in much more striking manner by what we drink.

Wine is par excellence the food of the brain; this is as true today as it was at the beginning of the world's history and as it has been ever since amongst all nations and under all climates.

Long before the world we live in had become habitable, the vine flourished and bore fruit; vine leaves, pips and tendrils abound in all the earliest strata of the earth's crust. Specimens, which palaeontologists ascribe to the tertiary period, have been found in such widely different parts of the world as Iceland, Champagne, Alaska, the Rhone Valley, Japan, Devonshire, Wyoming (U.S.A.) and Central Europe.

At a later date, when man made his first appearance upon

9

 

the earth, he found the vine growing wild everywhere and among the human remains of the neolithic period which have been unearthed, grape pips have not only been identified, but in such numbers and in so compact a mass that there can be no doubt that prehistoric man did press and make a beverage out of the wild grapes which he was able to gather.

Mythology, the only link between prehistoric and historical times, abounds with proofs of the ubiquity of the fruitful vine and of the antiquity of mankind's appreciation of wine.

The god of wine, who was credited with having taught men how to tend the vine and how to make wine, was worshipped from the earliest times and in all countries of which we have records. The Soma of the Aryans, the Spandaramet of the Armenians, the Sabazios of the Phrygians, the Moloch of the Syrians, the Orotal of the Egyptians, the Dionysos of the Greeks and the Bacchus of the Romans were, under different names, the representation of the same idea, the expression of the same universal feeling of gratitude towards the Giver of that most marvellous gift: Wine!

If we turn to the oldest written record of the world's history, the Bible, we find mentions of the fruitful vine at almost every page. Many also are the references to wine, strong drink and liqueurs, 'Yayin,' 'Schechar,' 'Tirosh,' 'Soveh,' 'Ahsis/ 'Khemer,' 'Khometz,' and 'Shemahrin.'

Tayin was the most common name for wine; it is the word used to designate the wine which Noah drank when he became drunken; which Melchizedek brought forth to Abraham; which was prescribed in the drink offerings; which is said to be a 'mocker,' and yet which 'maketh glad the heart of man'; which brings 'woe' to him who drinks unreasonably, but of which it is also said: 'Drink thy wine with a merry heart.'

Tirosh is translated either by 'wine' or 'new wine.'

Schechar meant a strong and inebriating drink and is sometimes used in opposition to 'Yayin' and 'Tirosh.'

Khemer and its Chaldean form Khamar were poetical names for wine, the 'blood of the grape.'

10

 

Absis was a wine mixed with fragrant herbs or otherwise aromatised.

Mesech meant a blend of wines or other drinks.

Kbometz was sour wine or vinegar.

Soveb  and   Mimsach  meant  either  wine  or  liquor,   and Shemabrin was the clear wine drawn off its lees.

In Egypt, we have more than mere tradition to rely upon for records of the greatest antiquity. Delchevalerie, in his 'Illustration Horticole', depicts the scenes of grape-gathering and wine-making which ornament the tomb of Phtah-Hotep, who lived in Memphis some four thousand years before Christ. Pickering, in his 'Chronological History of Plants', has reproduced similar glyptic illustrations which he ascribes to the Third Egyptian Dynasty, adding that other representations of vineyards and full details of the art of wine-making belong to the Fourth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Dynasties. Quite recently, the laws of Khammurabi, King of Babylon about 2250 B.C., have been discovered and deciphered, and have aroused a great deal of interest. This sovereign appears to have been the great legislator of his dynasty; his laws contain the most precise regulations concerning the sale of wine, and show us the poor retailer of wine to have been harassed by a very severe legislation even in those times. Fines were not in vogue then, but the loss of a limb or of life was the penalty incurred by the seller of wine who gave bad quality or short measure or allowed riotous conduct on his premises.

From the Caucasus to the Bosphorus, the whole of Asia Minor used to be but one vast vineyard. The same may be said of Greece and of all the islands of the Ionian and /Egean seas. Homer and all the Greek and Roman poets have sung the praises of the vintages of Thrace, Macedonia and Boeotia, of Cyprus, Chios and Lemnos.

Italy imported for a long time from Greece and the Greek islands large quantities of wine, her own vineyards producing but common beverage wines, which no patrician deemed worthy of his cellar.  ....

11

Everybody's Guide to Wines and Spirits - Guildhall Library, London - Andre Simon Collection ref - WTC 1120 

     
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
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