Monday, February 22, 2016

On the Coffee Table: M.F.K. Fisher

Title: Serve It Forth
Author: M.F.K. Fisher
via Amazon
Serve It Forth was the 1937 debut of M.F.K. Fisher, one of America's most important food writers.  I have written of Ms. Fisher's work before here.  Her expertly executed prose combines with her unashamed sensuality to make for most enjoyable reading.  The topics covered in this volume run from the decadent feasts of ancient Rome to the simple pleasures of eating alone.  Fisher reminds us that we are defined not only by what we eat but just as surely by where, when, how, why and with whom.

The best chapters are about Fisher's own experiences.  She roasts tangerine segments on the radiator of her French hotel room while the chambermaid tells ribald tales of her own encounters with traveling cyclists.  She visits a beloved restaurant on what by chance is her favorite waiter's last night on the job.  I can't help being reminded of my own comparable adventures: the bite of steak tartare which launched the love story that would become my marriage.  Or the order of chicken fajitas shared with a friend, tears streaming down our cheeks - from the potent peppers, to be sure, but also from the pure joy of finding genuinely spicy Mexican food in Japan.  Or the pot of hard-shelled crabs leftover from an embassy dinner party, shared with another friend at 12:30 in the morning.  To read Fisher is to remember that great food nourishes the soul as well as the body.

Serve It Forth and the previously discussed Consider the Oyster are the first two books in the still larger collection entitled The Art of Eating.  I look forward to reading the other three.  The next is provocatively entitled How to Cook a Wolf.

11 comments:

  1. I don't think I've heard of her, but it could be interesting to compare the eating thoughts pre-World War 2 with now.

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    1. How to Cook a Wolf should be interesting. Written during the War, it was meant to inspire those living through food shortages.

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  2. Interesting, I enjoy books that talk about the enjoyment of different subjects. Much like Peter Mayle first line of his book A Year In Provence,
    "The Year Began with lunch". Yes, please !

    Son who lives in Japan loves Mexican food but more so Sonoran food.
    He even has a tortillas press and masa to make tortillas. I think he said he found one Mexican Restaurant that was good but too far away from him.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. The place I found was in Sagamihara. It's probably long gone by now.

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  3. Interesting, I enjoy books that talk about the enjoyment of different subjects. Much like Peter Mayle first line of his book A Year In Provence,
    "The Year Began with lunch". Yes, please !

    Son who lives in Japan loves Mexican food but more so Sonoran food.
    He even has a tortillas press and masa to make tortillas. I think he said he found one Mexican Restaurant that was good but too far away from him.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. sorry about the double post my computer/blogger is having a fit today !

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  4. Sounds like an interesting read. I like when people writing about appreciating things and food is something I always enjoy.

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  5. I love M F K Fisher, as well as Julia Child and James Beard. All wonderful chefs and writers.

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    1. If you enjoy Fisher, I recommend Trillin. He's the lighter side.

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