“Whoever tells a lie is not pure of heart, and such a person cannot cook a pure soup.”
Or so said Ludwig van Beethoven in a letter to Nannette Streicher, a trusted friend, fellow composer and piano maker. Beethoven was writing to Streicher after firing a housekeeper, who by all accounts took otherwise excellent care of his ungrateful ass, for telling a white lie to spare his feelings. It’s a quote that gets used often as both a compliment and something of a challenge to cooks.
It’s also something that gets discussed in exquisite detail in an 1887 article from The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular (just rolls of the tongue, doesn’t it?) titled “Beethoven: The Man”. After dishing on the fact that The Man was a rude-as-hell houseguest, a wildly abusive employer and an unmitigated slob, the author gets into the Notorious LvB’s VERY specific ideas about soup; chiefly, his love of a soup made with bread, raw eggs and his bare hands. Awesome.
Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that Beethoven didn’t know jack about good soup and his quote is, at its heart, garbage.