To my embarrassment, I have recently discovered The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher. Embarrassed because my discovery was so recent. This bible of food writing was originally published in 1954. I’m reading the “50th Anniversary Edition.” (*sigh*) Well, I suppose everything is new to everyone at some point.
M.F.K. Fisher or, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, was, and perhaps is, the reigning queen of food writing. This tome is a compilation of five of her more popular books: Serve it Forth; Consider the Oyster; How to Cook a Wolf; The Gastronomical Me; and An Alphabet for Gourmets. And because it is a compilation, this means that these five works were originally published even earlier, the first appearing in 1937.
Make no mistake. This is no ye olde world lady’s guide to etiquette. Fisher writes with such joy, freedom, and sensuality that one has to constantly remind oneself that this isn’t a hipster manifesto:
Bindlestiffs [feel free to look that one up] on a rare bender in Los Angeles (Ell-ay, you say) gulp down three swollen “on the half’s” with a rot-gut whiskey chaser in any of a dozen joints on Main Street, and are more than moderately sure that if they die that night, it won’t be from the oysters. -Consider the Oyster,
This is a book that embraces and inspires our mission here at Lust for Cooking. Fisher loves food and takes the practice of eating very seriously. Each book is a compilation in itself of short, witty essays that focus on a particular topic, such as an ingredient or an anecdote or cultural practice (kind of like a blog??), but way ahead of its time.
Alice Waters, owner or Chez Panisse, says, “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.”
If you want to know where is all began or need a reminder of the joy of food, this book is a must read. You can find it here.