“It is the Land of Truth (enchanted name!), surrounded by a wide and stormy ocean, the true home of illusion, where many a fog bank and ice, that soon melts away, tempt us to believe in new lands, while constantly deceiving the adventurous mariner with vain hopes, and involving him in adventures which he can never leave, yet never bring to an end.”
Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant
Commemorating Kant’s birthday, I decided follow his resolution for what he considered the “highest ethicophysical good”, a dinner party. A frequent guest to his parties narrates:
One sat down without ceremony, and when someone was getting ready to pray, [Kant] interrupted them by telling them to sit down. Everything was neat and clean. Only three dishes, but excellently prepared and very tasty, two bottles of wine, and when in season there was fruit and dessert. Everything had its determinate order. After the soup was served and almost eaten, the meat—usually beef that was especially tender—was carved. He took it, like most dishes, with English mustard, which he prepared himself. … He preferred that the mealtime was devoted to relaxation and liked to disregard learned matters. At times he cut off such associations. He most loved to talk about political things. Indeed, he almost luxuriated in them. He also wanted to converse about city news and matters of common life.
from Kant: A Biography, by Manfred Kuehn
As found on his Anthropology, he indulged on numerous occasions in good meals with a good company, the kind of good living that seems to harmonize best with humanity (paraphrasing him). The ingredients, or ‘rules’, for a tasteful party are, generally speaking, choosing appropriate topics of conversation in which everyone has an equal say, avoiding silences and conflict. The number of guests should follow Chesterfield’s rule: no fewer than the Graces (i.e., three), no more than the Muses (i.e., nine). This is so since the occasion exists not merely for physical satisfaction but also for social enjoyment, and thus the importance of the quality of the dialogue. The conversation for that matter, should follow 3 stages: i. narration and exchange of news, ii. ratiocination in which all guests expose their thoughts and iii. jest, which would aid digestion.
And so, to the meal. As the main course, I chose to prepare Königsberger Klopse or Soße Klopse, a famous dish from his region. This Prussian specialty is meatballs in a white sauce and capers. The ‘meatballs’ for this version were made with 3 types of legumes (chickpeas, lentils and white beans), roasted garlic, bell pepper and spices and some tahini. The sauce was made with almond milk, white wine and vegetable broth, along with nut butter (and capers). I accompanied the dish with some sauteed mushrooms, glazed carrots and its traditional potatoes.
Dessert time called for some Prussian Honey Cake (or Honigkuchen), made with walnuts, pecans and almonds. The honey was made with a homemade fruit syrup and apple reduction, and layered with chocolate, nut butter and almond paste. To go with it, some Ostfriesischen Tee (East Freisian tea, with Assam and Ceylon tea leaves), and berries, for added tartness.
It is so that wonderful gathering withered away while contemplating on his subjective universal judgments (particularly on free and adherent beauty), and not in jest, as the celebrant would’ve liked. It all generally accommodated to his ideal proportions of such an occasion, so we hope he would’ve been quite content.
“The light dove, in free flight cutting through the air the resistance of which it feels, could get the idea that it could do even better in airless space. Likewise, Plato abandoned the world of the senses because it posed so many hindrances for the understanding, and dared to go beyond it on the wings of the ideas, in the empty space of pure understanding.”
Critique of Pure Reason