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The Art of Eating Paperback – Mar 5 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 50 edition (March 5 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764542613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764542619
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 5.1 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #92,356 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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.

Review

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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
"The Art of Eating" is actually an omnibus edition of five works by MFK Fischer, originally published separately. These are "Consider the Oyster," "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets." The book succeeds marvelously on different levels: first, Fischer was an exceedingly knowledgable and experienced cook and eater. As such, her essays are good reads just for the wealth of information they contain on all facets of cookery and dining. Second, and more importantly, she was a woman of enormous humanity; a quality that informs each of the works in this volume. Her ability to crystalize in words the underlying cultural and emotional associations of food, cooking and the dining experience is probably unmatched by any other food writer since. Again and again, she manages quite deftly to use simple anecdotes from her life to illustrate the deep attachments we all have with the food we eat and how we eat it. Her delivery of these insights is seldom heavy-handed; often, she manages to delight the reader by use of unexpected but well-grounded conclusions. One would need to explore the culinary writings of poets and novelists to find her equal on the subject.

There are drawbacks to the work, however. By gathering five different books into a single volume, a certain amount of repetition of some of her material becomes apparent. This is, of course, more the fault of the editor than of Fischer herself. No, Fischer's faults lie perhaps in a certain over-emphasis on the "sensitivity" of herself and her loved ones as contrasted with the rest of us Ya-hoos, and that she wrote before the emergence of American regional cuisine as a force in cookery, so that she sometimes denigrates things we feel more kindly toward today.

In all, though, The Art of Eating is a book that no serious cook or diner can afford to do without
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