Yet I could hardly change your wish to kiss your palate
With the peac*ck when it’s served, and not the pullet,
You’re seduced by vain show, a rare bird costs gold,
With its ornate tail spectacularly spread: as if it
Mattered. Do you ever eat those feathers you admire?
Does it have the same beauty when it’s cooked? The meat
Doesn’t differ between the two, yet to think that you
Prefer this to that, deceived by the appearance! Well:
How can you tell then if the pike that’s gasping here
Was caught in the Tiber or the sea, in the current near
The bridges, or the Tuscan river’s mouth? Madman,
You praise a three pound mullet you’ve to eat in portions.
It’s the size that attracts you I see, well then why not
A large pike? Because no doubt the pike’s naturally
Larger, while the mullet’s normally much smaller.
It’s a belly seldom hungry that scorns common fare.
‘I’d love to see something huge served in a huge dish,’
Cries a throat that would be worthy of the Harpies.
Come you Southerlies and spoil their fare! And yet
However fresh the boar and turbot they already stink,
Since too much richness upsets a weakened stomach,
Gorged, it much prefers radishes and bitter leaves.
Yet poor man’s food’s not wholly absent from the feasts
Of kings: cheap eggs, black olives hold their place. It’s not
So long since the auctioneer Gallonius’ serving sturgeon,
Caused a scandal. And the sea hid as much turbot, then.
Yet turbot were still safe, and storks safe in their nests,
Till a creative ‘praetor’ led you astray! So that now,
If someone proclaimed roast seagulls were tasty,
The youth of Rome, so easily seduced, would agree.