Mark Kurlansky has put together a wonderful book of food wisdom, collected from writers from around the world and throughout history. “Choice Cuts”, published in 2002, is his edited collection of works about food and definitely worth reading.
One of the writers was Simeon Ben Sira, a 2nd century (BCE) Hebrew scholar and philosopher. He wrote poems about daily life, conduct and historical events. Kurlansky has included Sira’s “Ben Sira Against Gluttony” in “Choice Cuts” and notes “…Simeon Ben Sira was born already speaking and with his teeth fully formed”. No small feat, that!
Here is the wisdom of Simeon Ben Sira:
“If you are sitting at a grand table, do not lick your lips and exclaim, “What a spread!”
“Remember, it is a vice to have a greedy eye”
“Do not reach for everything you see, or jostle your fellow-guest at the dish: judge his feeling by your own and always behave considerately”.
“Eat what is set before you like a gentleman: do not munch and make yourself objectionable”
“Be the first to stop for good manners’ sake and to not be insatiable, or you will give offense”
If you are dining in a large company, do not reach out your hand before others”
“A man of good upbringing is content with little, and he is not short of breath when he goes to bed”
“The moderate eater enjoys healthy sleep: he rises early, feeling refreshed”
“But sleeplessness, indigestion, and colic are the lot of the glutton”
“If you cannot avoid overeating at a feast, leave the table and find relief by vomiting”