Our taste buds in particular are designed to help us recognize and pursue important nutrients: we have receptors for essential salts, for energy-rich sugars, for amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, for energy-bearing molecules called nucleotides. Raw meat triggers all these tastes, because muscle cells are relatively fragile, and because they’re biochemically very active. the cells in a plant leaf or seed, by contrast, are protected by tough cell walls that prevent much of their contents from being freed by chewing, and their protein and starch are locked up in inert storage granules. Meat is thus mouth-filling in a way that few plant foods are. Its rich aroma which cooked comes from the same biochemical complexity.
Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, 123.
The second way is from the nature of an efficient cause. In the world of the senses we find that there is a consequence of efficient causes, but we never find something that causes itself, and it is impossible to do because it would precede itself–which is impossible…Thus it is necessary to posit some first efficient cause which all men call God.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, part I, question 2.
What we now know as French cuisine was one of the great social and artistic achievements of the nineteenth century. It was based upon olive oil in the south and butter in the north; and since prestige and power lay mostly in the north, butter became one of the foundations of the art and science of the great French chefs – of what is known as cuisine classique. To this day southern French cooking tends to be called "hearty" or "robust," and other rustic epithets, even by its greatest admirers: delicacy and finesse generally involve the use of butter.
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 99.
Another very luxurious practice, often available only to the rich, was coating one’s hair in butter or lard. It kept down vermin, helped preserve order in an elaborate hair-do, and added a gleam for which even we occasionally yearn, with our "structuring" hair-gel, brilliantine, and other hair oils.
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 92.
Salt represents the civilized: it requires know-how to get it, and a sophisticated combination of cooking and spoilt, jaded appetites to need it. Its sharp taste suggests sharpness of intellect and liveliness of mind. Salt (bright, dry, titillating, and dynamic) is synonymous in several languages with wit and wisdom.
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 76.
The word "salary" dates from the Roman distribution of salt as part of their soldiers’ pay; an inadequate person, we still say, is "not worth their salt."
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 72.
Oath-taking, in many cultures, is a ceremony involving salt, just as the act of swearing may employ blood or iron as a sign denoting a person’s unbreakable word. Salt is shared at table, in a context of order and contentment. Traditional Bedouin will never fight a man with whom they have once eaten salt. When the Lord God of Israel made a covenant with the Jews, it was a Covenant of Salt, denoting an unalterable bond of friendship. It also meant that the Jews had settled down in the Promised Land, had ceased to be sheep-herding nomads, and would now eat the fruit of their harvests, cooked and seasoned with salt.
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 67.
Human beings, it seems, learn about salt (and become addicted to it) at a very precise moment in their history: when they cease being almost exclusively carnivorous and learn to eat vegetables in quantities usually available only when they grow them themselves. When people begin not only to eat a lot of vegetables, but to reduce the salt content in their food by boiling it–a cooking method which presupposes the ability to make metal pots that can be set directly over a fire–hen salt becomes more desirable still.
Margaret Visser, Much Depends on Dinner – the extraordinary history and mythology, allure and obsessions, perils and taboos of an ordinary meal, 65.
Thus it is that because rulers instead of inducing their subjects to be virtuous are wickedly jealous of their virtue and hinder it as much as they can, very few virtuous men are found under tyrants. For as Aristotle says, "brave men are found where brave men are honored, " and Cicero says, "what is despised by everyone decays and ceases to grew." It is natural that men who are brought up in fear should become servile in spirit and cowardly in the face of any difficult or strenuous endeavor. So the Apostle [Paul] says "Fathers, do not provoke your children to indignation lest they become discouraged." King Solomon had these evil effects of tyranny in mind when he said "When the wicked reign it is the ruination of men" because the wickedness of tyranny leads their subjects to fall away from the perfection of virtue.
St. Thomas Aquinas, On Kingship, ch. 3.
If the tyrant is not extreme, it is better to tolerate a mild tyranny for a time rather than to take action against it that may bring on many dangers that are worse than the tyranny itself.
St. Thomas Aquinas, De Regimine Principum, ch 6.
In order for man to achieve beatitude it was necessary therefore that God should become man to take away the sin of the human race.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Against the Gentiles, Bk IV, ch. 54.
The best government of a society (multitudo) is one that is ruled by one person. This is clear from the end of government which is peace. Peaceful unity among his subjects is the end of a ruler, and one ruler, rather than many rulers, is a more proximate cause of unity.
St. Thomas Aquinas, The Summa Against the Gentiles, Bk. IV, ch. 76.
Now human reason is related to the knowledge of the truth of faith…in such a way that reason can attain likenesses of it that are true but not sufficient to comprehend the truth conclusively or as known in itself.
St. Thomas Aquinuas, The Summa Against the Gentiles, Bk 1., ch. 8.
"Now fraud, that eats away at every conscience, is practiced by a man against another who trusts in him, or one who has no trust. This latter way seems only to cut off the bond of love that nature forges…But in the former way of fraud, not only the love that nature forges is forgotten, but added love that builds a special trust;
thus, in the tightest circle, where there is the universe’s center, seat of Dis, all traitors are consumed eternally."
Dante, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto XI.
Aquinas’ list of virtues does not altogether tally with Aristotle’s, though he works hard to Christianize some of the more pagan characters who figure in Ethics. Aristotle’s ideal man is great-souled, that is to say, he is a highly superior being who is very conscious of his own superiority to others. How can this be reconciled with the Christian virtue of humility? By a remarkable piece of intellectual legerdemain, Aquinas makes magnanimity not only compatible with humility but part of the very same virtue. There is a virtue, he says, that is the moderation of ambition, a virtue based on on a just appreciation of one’s own gifts and defects. Humility is the aspect that ensures that one’s ambitions are based on a just assessment of one’s defects, magnanimity is the aspect that ensures that they are based on a just assessment of one’s gifts.
Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy, Vol 2., 73.
While writing the First Part of the Summa St Thomas began a political treatise, On Kingship, laying down principles for the guidance of secular governments in a way that leaves no doubt that kings are subject to priests and that the pope enjoys a secular as well as a spiritual supremacy.
Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy, Vol. 2, 70.
A typical medieval university consisted of four faculties: the universal undergraduate faculty of arts, and the three higher faculties, linked to professions, of theology, law, and medicine.
Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy, Vol. 2, 55.
The university is, in essentials, a thirteenth-century innovation, if by ‘university’ we mean a corporation of people engaged professionally, full-time, in the teaching and expansion of a corpus of knowledge in various subjects, handing it on to their pupils, with an agreed syllabus, agreed methods of teaching, and agreed professional standards. Universities and parliaments came into existence at roughly the same time, and have proved themselves the most long-lived of all medieval inventions.
Anthony Kenny, Medieval Philosophy, Vol. 2, 55.