Synopses & Reviews
The Art of Eating
"...only wise men know the art of eating." Brillat-Savarin
"There is a communion of more than bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk. And that is my answer when people ask me, Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?" So M. F. K. Fisher begins The Gastronomical Me, one of the five memorable volumes collected together here in The Art of Eating. The five books cover an eclectic array of thoughts, memories, and recipes, from World War I vignettes of frugality at the table to a consideration of the social status of vegetables. Her recipes range from those for all manner of oysters, dressed and undressed, to Cold Buttermilk Soup, and are accompanied by the remarks and observations that provoked W. H. Auden to say, "I do not know of anyone in the United States today who writes better prose."
"This 50th anniversary paperback reprint contains what Julia Child referred to as 'the essence of M.F.K. Fisher.' Fisher (1908-1992) was one of this country's earliest food writers; her eloquent yet unostentatious prose has charmed generations. The 784-page collection brings together five works originally published under separate titles: 'Serve it Forth,' 'Consider the Oyster,' 'How to Cook a Wolf,' 'The Gastronomical Me,' and 'An Alphabet for Gourmets.' There are also recipes scattered throughout. Washington Post
"[T]his is a compilation of American books filled with love of life and language...that inspires me." Sunday Express
"M. F. K. Fisher evokes the magic that shimmers just beneath the surface of the most commonplace, everyday experiences in prose you can wrap around your soul." Richard Sax, Chocolatier
"M. F. K. Fisher is one of the best food writers. She makes you laugh, tells you stories, intrigues your mind, gives you an appetite, takes you on her travels. She is witty, wise, and unpretentious." Jane Grigson
"One of the world's finest food writers and, in the eyes of many, the grand dame of gastronomy....M. F. K. Fisher has remained our guiding light, the source of infinite gastronomic and philosophic wisdom, the model of what a truly refined food writer should strive for." James Villas, Bon Appetit
"Mary Frances [Fisher] has the extraordinary ability to make the ordinary seem rich and wonderful. Her dignity comes from her absolute insistence on appreciating life as it comes to her." Ruth Reichl
"How wonderful to have here in my hands the essence of M.F.K. Fisher, whose wit and fulsome opinions on food and those who produce it, comment upon it, and consume it are as apt today as they were several decades ago, when she composed them. Why did she choose food and hunger she was asked, and she replied, 'When I write about hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth, and the love of it . . . and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied.' This is the stuff we need to hear, and to hear again and again." Julia Child
"This comprehensive volume should be required reading for every cook. It defines in a sensual and beautiful way the vital relationship between food and culture." Alice Waters
More than 50 years after M. F. K. Fisher logged her musings an d memories on food, love , and life, her nuanced stories still entertain and enlighten. If you haven't yet read Fisher's work, you will thoroughly enjoy discovering its variety, richness, and honesty. If it has been a while since you last delved into her writing, you will be captivated once again. Here are a few passages:
SERVE IT FORTH
"The Standing and the Waiting"
"We talked, and well, and all the dinner was most excellent, and the wine was like music on our tongues. Time was forgotten. . . . We watched as in a blissful dream the small fat hands moving like magic among bottles and small bowls and spoons and plates, stirring, pouring, turning the pan over the flame just so, just so, with the face bent keen and intent above."
CONSIDER THE OYSTER
"The Well-Dressed Oyster"
"There are three kinds of oyster-eaters: those loose-minded sports who will eat anything, hot, cold, thin, thick, dead or alive, as long as it is oyster; those who will eat them raw and only raw; and those who with equal severity will eat them cooked and no way other. . . . The first group may perhaps have the most fun, although there is a white fire about the others' bigotry that can never warm the broad-minded."
HOW TO COOK A WOLF
"How to Boil Water"
"Probably the most satisfying soup in the world for people who are hungry, as well as for those who are tired or worried or cross or in debt or in a moderate amount of pain or in love or in robust health or in any kind of business huggermuggery, is minestrone. . . . It is a thick unsophisticated soup, heart-warming and soul-staying, full of aromatic vegetables and well bound at the last with good cheese."
THE GASTRONOMICAL ME
"The Measure of My Powers" (1919-1927)
"The first thing I cooked was pure poison. I made it for Mother, after my little brother David was born, and within twenty minutes of the first swallow she was covered with great itching red welts. . . . The pudding was safe enough: a little round white shuddering milky thing I had made that morning. . . . I ran into the back yard and picked ten soft ripe blackberries. I blew off the alley-dust, and placed them gently in a perfect circle around the little pudding. Its cool perfection leaped into sudden prettiness. . . . Mother smiled at my shocked anxious confusion, and said, 'Don't worry, sweet . . . it was the loveliest pudding I have ever seen.' I agreed with her in spite of the despair."
AN ALPHABET FOR GOURMETS
"G Is for Gluttony"
"I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to the bursting point, on anything from quail financière to flapjacks, for no other reason than the beastlike satisfaction of his belly."
About the Author
M. F. K. Fisher, who was born in Michigan on July 3, 1908, grew up in the town of Whittier, California. After attending a variety of schools in California and Illinois, she spent three years in France at the University of Dijon. Her first book, Serve It Forth, was published in 1937 and established her as a gastronomer and writer of note, a reputation reinforced by her subsequent writings — among them Map of Another Town and A Considerable Town, both of which recapture the periods she spent in Provence. She has also won acclaim for Among Friends, a memoir of her early years in Whittier, and for several collections of essays, including As They Were and Sister Age, and her brilliant translation of Brillat-Savarin's The Physiology of Taste.
Table of Contents
Preface: One More Time.
Serve it Forth.
Consider the Oyster.
How to Cook a Wolf.
The Gastronomical Me.
An Alphabet for Gourmets.
Index of Recipes.