Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reading,Writing,Eating with MFK Fisher.

Print Friendly and PDF I have spent an extraordinary couple of weeks. I feel as if I had both gone back in time,and met a new friend. I have just finished one of the best books I have ever read. It is an anthology of the American food writer MFK Fisher called:

"The Art of Eating"(
50th Anniversary edition.)

In Her Own Words:

"People ask me: Why do you write about food,and eating and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security,and about love,the way others do?"
"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." MFK Fisher.

The Historical Perspective:

This book is a compilation of her books and essays starting in 1939,and continuing to well after WWII. The early writing deals with issues that I have never had to face in my lifetime,such as food rationing and shortages of electricity and heat. Some of the chapters deal with things such as how to cook in a bomb shelter, a chapter that she referred to as being as obsolete as a chapter on treating 'javelin wounds'after revisiting it a decade after it was written. More than one chapter discusses what options you have when you can't find enough food to eat. Her sense of humour masks the irony of being a 'food writer' during this period. One of my favorite essays is entitled:

"How to be Cheerful Though Starving."

"Of course it takes a certain amount of naive wit to cope gracefully with the problem of having the wolf camp with apparent permanency on your doorstep. That can be a wearing thing,and even the pretense of ignoring his presence has a kind of dangerous monotony about it." MFK Fisher.

Introduction to Food Writing:

I can't tell you how much this woman's writing resonated with me. The way she described meals and experiences involving food made me feel as if It was actually MY memory and that we had somehow experienced everything together. I loved the stories about her childhood spent in California learning to love food and learning to cook. I loved the stories about her frequent trips to Europe with her first husband,then her great love,and how much her life changed after his death. I simply could not put this book down. It was a full seven hundred and thirty three pages long...and for the first time in my life, once I read the last page,I found myself a pen and paper and started writing down passages that I not only wanted to read again...but I wanted to read aloud! Another surprising thing for me was that one sentence was not enough. Her writing flowed with such beauty and rhythm I found myself writing out her complete thought, sometimes 6 or 7 sentences,as the only way to thoroughly fix the picture in my mind.

May I Share?:

I am going to write my next few blog posts as an homage to Fisher's gorgeous food writing. I haven't stopped cooking or eating...but I need to share her words with you. I hope you enjoy,and I would love it if you were to leave a comment.

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