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The Art of Eating [Paperback]

M. F. K. Fisher , Joan Reardon
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 5 2004
"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."

"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."

"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."

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A collection of essays by one of America's best known food writers, that are often more autobiographical or historical than anecdotal musings on food preparation and consumption. The book includes culinary advice to World War II housewives plagued by food shortages, portraits of family members and friends (with all their idiosyncrasies) and notes on her studies at the University of Dijon, in France. Through each story she weaves her love of food and passion for cooking, and illustrates that our three basic needs as human beings--love, food and security--are so intermingled that it is difficult to think of one without the others. The book won the 1989 James Beard Cookbook Award. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.


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, April 28, 2004)

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THERE are two kinds of books about eating: those that try to imitate Brillat-Savarin's, and those that try not to. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I cook fer a livin'... Jan. 9 2004
This was a gift from an ex-occasional lover...This is what I'll remember her by. If you love to cook, if you love to eat...if you just love to read while you eat...or make love and cook...what the heck, do 'em all at once...buy this now and have no regrets. Geez I miss that woman.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thank heavens, "Art of Eating" is back in print Oct. 27 2002
For some inexplicable reason, the brilliant writing of M.F.K.Fisher was out of print, or hard to obtain for a while. Her prose is possibly some of the best writing from the 20th Century, so the difficulty in getting her books was rather puzzling. If you read anyone who writes about cuisine, they always refer to M.F.K. Fisher as some kind of luminary. In "The Art of Eating", there is every opportunity to examine why her writing is held in such high esteem.
This book is a compilation of her most famous works "Consider the Oyster," "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets." Each is quite different. "How to Cook a Wolf" is about cooking in times of want, in this case, World War II, but the book really becomes semi-autobiographical and talks about her young days in Dijon, where she was the wife of a student at the University.
If you haven't read M.F.K. Fisher, this is probably the best book to start with--it combines memoir with culinary musings; advice on scrambled eggs with her own ideas about health and nutrition. If you then can't get enough of Fisher, I recommend, "The Measure of Her Powers" which is much more autobiographical and utterly fascinating.
I actually read Fisher more for her memoirs. Her fascination with food and cooking is to me about life and art,--the French view of food not as something merely to fill the belly, but as an art form and a craft.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best culinary book ever! Oct. 14 2002
A wonderful book! Unappreciated. Mary Francis shows us that eating is life and life is eating, or at least, the good life is good eating. One of American's best writers, the now deceased MFK Fisher deserves to be read in her finest. This book collects 3 of her previous collections of essays, many originally published in the New Yorker. If you don't like this book, you don't like good eating and good writing about it.
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Once upon a time I worked for a chef who absolutely adored MFK Fisher (this was one of her only redeeming qualities) and although I love food and wine, I had never heard of her before, but I love to read and I figured that I would pick up a few of her books and this one (actually a compilation of 5 of her books)is the first that I read, and it just changed my life, it is such a beautiful book that describes food and love and life so artfully you cannot help but feeling happy when you read it. She speaks a lot of France, and about her life experiences mingled with all sorts of facts and trivia and research about food. It is lovingly written. For those of you who love books about food and the art of food, this is for you. For those of you who think that you don't like books about food, this is also for you. Check it out.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Top Shelf Feb. 14 2002
For anyone who absolutely loves food; the preparation, the consumption, the discription...... this book is a must. You can feel the joy she derives from her craft, both with food and with words. This book is such a wonderful collection of her best that it is a real treat to pick it up at anytime and enjoy a few pages. It has longer pieces that will just captivate you as well as short quick reads. Like a delicious meal this book is to be savoured. This is a timeless piece of work that continues to bring a smile to all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A gastronomical tour de force Dec 21 2001
By Megami
This book is not a cookbook (though it does contain some great recipes). And it isn't really just a memoir. Rather, it is 5 books by one of the greatest writers about food collected in one volume. Whether you choose to read the essays over a period of time, or stuff yourself silly by reading as much as possible in one go, if you are the type who loves to read about food, you are in for a treat.
Fisher covers great meals she has had and great meals she plans to have; she covers cooking from the highly expensive levels of decadence to true home economy (yes, you can live off sludge); she explores eating both as a social pastime and as an intimate, individual pleasure.
If like me some of your favourite books have earned that title due to the authors ability to write about the meals it contains, you are sure to salviate at this tome. A wonderful read for all foodies...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Yum June 13 2001
A delicious and lyrical book. Best read with a piece of good cheese and some wine, or perhaps some good ripe fruit close to hand.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In the Kitchen, by fermed Feb. 19 2001
There are two types of cookbooks: those that you consult in order to learn how to prepare a specific dish (squid in its ink, for example) and those that you read when you are not in the kitchen and then allow to settle in your brain for a little while, and from which you decide, in time, to prepare something special. "The Joy of Cooking" is of the first type, the "Art of Eating" of the second kind.
There are two types of cookbook authors: those who did not follow a drive to become apothecaries and instead wound up in a kitchen. Now they issue a prescriptive formulary of carefully controlled measures, procedures, times, weights, and ingredients (no substitutions, please) in precise, neat, humorless texts: recipes by edict, if you will; and those who under other circumstances would have become poets or novelists, but instead wound up in the kitchen, from whence they issue lyrical prose as well as exquisite dishes. Their recipes are often vague, permissive, infuriating, but tolerant of errors. There are many who fit the first category and few (MFK Fisher among them) the second.
There are two ways of comparing cookbooks: by following recipes for highly complex dishes (beef Wellington, say) and tasting the results, or by following extremely simple recipes from each book and making gustatory comparisons (scrambled eggs, for instance). Scrambled eggs, according to general culinary wisdom, requires that eggs be beaten together "until the white and yolks are completely combined" (Joy of Cooking) or to be whisked briskly (Fanny Farmer).
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