van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 14 letters relate to food-and-drink - diet...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 12 November 1888)
... He is very interesting as a friend, I must tell you that he knows how to cook perfectly; I think I shall learn from him, it is very convenient. We find it very easy to make frames with plain strips of wood nailed on the stretcher and painted, and I have begun doing this. Do you know that Gauguin is really partly the inventor of the white frame? But the frame of four strips nailed on the stretcher costs 5 sous, and we are certainly going to perfect it. It does very well, because the frame has no projection, and is one with the picture. Good-by for now, a handshake for you, and my compliments to the Dutchmen. Ever yours, Vincent Gauguin sends his greetings, and asks you to keep, out of the price of the first picture you sell, the amount necessary for the stretchers with screws that he wants, and also what Bernard will be asking you for a commission he gave him. ...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(26 March 1889)
... good, and all of which are very curious. His courteous doctor, the house physician Rey, is of the opinion that, if he should lead a very methodical life, eating and drinking normally and at regular hours, there would be every chance that the terrible crises would not repeat themselves at all. He is quite willing to keep him all the time that would be necessary. He thinks that all the expenses of his stay in the hospital will have to be defrayed by the municipality, because it was at the administration's demand that he was kept in the asylum. At any rate, if he does not go back to Paris, which in Mr. Rey's opinion would be preferable, it would be necessary for him to move to another house, as his neighbours are hostile to him. This is also what your brother desires, for at the earliest possible date he wants to leave this asylum, where after all he must necessarily suffer under the continual surveillance, which often has to be of a petty nature.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(22 May 1889)
... have another room for doing my work. The food is all right as far as it goes. It tastes a bit musty, of course, as in a cockroach-infested restaurant in Paris, or in a boarding-house. The poor wretches here, having absolutely nothing to do (not a book, nothing more to distract them than a game of boules or a game of draughts), have no other daily distraction than to stuff themselves with chickpeas, haricot beans, lentils and other groceries and colonial produce, in set amounts and at stated hours. As the digestion of these foodstuffs offers certain difficulties, they fill their days in a way as offensive as it is costly. But joking apart, my fear of madness is wearing off markedly, since I can see at close quarters those who are affected by it in the same way as I may very easily be in the future. Previously, I was repelled by these individuals, and I found it distressing to have to reflect that so many in our trade, Troyon, Marchal, Méryon,...
Lettre de Vincent van Gogh à Theo van Gogh
(3 June 1890)
... dîner tous les dimanches ou lundis. Mais jusqu'à présent, si c'est agréable d'y faire un tableau, c'est une corvée pour moi d'y dîner et déjeuner, car l'excellent homme se donne du mal pour faire des dîners où il y a 4 ou 5 plats, ce qui est abominable pour lui comme pour moi, car il n'a certes pas l'estomac fort. Ce qui m'a un peu retenu d'y trouver à redire, c'est que je vois que lui cela lui rappelle les jours d'autrefois où l'on faisait des dîners de famille, qu'enfin nous connaissons bien aussi.Mais l'idée moderne de manger un, tout au plus deux plats est pourtant certes un progrès et un loin retour à l'antiquité vraie. Enfin le père Gachet est beaucoup, mais beaucoup comme toi et moi. J'ai lu avec plaisir dans ta lettre que M. Peyron a demandé de mes nouvelles en t'écrivant, je vais lui écrire que cela va bien ce soir même, car il était très bon pour moi et...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(3 June 1890)
... ask me to dinner every Sunday or Monday. But till now, while it is pleasant to do a painting there, it is rather a burden for me to dine and lunch there, for the good soul takes the trouble to have 4 or 5 course dinners, which is as dreadful for him as for me - for he certainly hasn't a strong stomach. The thing that has somewhat prevented me from protesting against it is that it recalls the old times for him, when there were those family dinners which we ourselves know so well. But the modern idea of eating one - or at most two - courses is certainly progress, as well as a return to real antiquity. Altogether father Gachet is very, yes very like you and me. I read with pleasure in your letter that M. Peyron asked for news of me when he wrote you. I am going to write him this very evening that all is well, for he was very good to me and I shall certainly not forget him. Desmoulins, the man who has some Japanese pictures at the Champ de Mars, has come back here...

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