Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Art of Eating

While in the Pearl District of Portland, I visited Powells's Bookstore. I was in hog-ess heaven. Three huge floors of books!

I started in the cooking section, natch, and scooped up M.F.K. Fisher's "The Art of Eating", 50th Anniversary Edition. It includes the following: Serve It Forth; Consider The Oyster; How To Cook A Wolf; The Gastronomical Me; An Alphabet For Gourmets.

Here are a couple of excerpts from "An Alphabet For Gourmets":

"A is for Dining Alone"

{Here Ms. Fisher contemplates why she is not invited to dinner at other people's she learns to dine alone}

"And the kind people-they are the ones who have made me feel the loneliest. Wherever I have lived, they have indeed been kind--up to a certain point. They have poured cocktails for me, and praised me generously for things I have written to their liking, and showed me their children. And I have seen the discreetly drawn curtains to the family dining-rooms, so different from the uncluttered, spinsterish emptiness of my own one room. Behind the far door to the kitchen I have sensed, with the mystic materialism of a hungry woman, the presence of honest-to-God fried pork chops, peas and carrots, a jello salad, and lemon meringue pie--none of which I like and all of which I admire in theory and would give my eyeteeth to be offered. But the kind people always murmur, "we'd love to have you stay to supper sometime. We wouldn't dare, of course, the simple way we eat and all."

"G is for Gluttony"

"I cannot believe that there exists a single coherent human being who will not confess, at least to himself, that once or twice he has stuffed himself to the bursting point, on anything from quail financiere to flapjacks, for no other reason than the breastlike satisfaction of his belly."

{and the following from "How to be a Wise Man/Woman from How To Cook A Wolf". I added surely she would do today)

A wise man always eats well....Chinese proverb

"It is not enough to make a child hungry; if he is moderately healthy he will have all the requisites of a normal pig or puppy or plant-aphis, and will eat when he is allowed to, without thought. The important thing, to make him not a pig or puppy, nor even a delicate green insect, is to let him eat from the beginning with thought."

"The ability to choose what food you must eat, and knowingly, will make you able to choose other less transitory things with courage and finesse. A child should be encouraged, not discouraged as so many are, to look at what he eats, and think about it: the juxtapositions of color and flavor and texture...and indirectly the reasons why he is eating it and the results it will leave on him, if he is an introspective widgin. (If not, the fact that what he eats is not only good but will do him no harm.)"

"I feel, even more strongly than I did in 1942, that one of the most important things about a child's gastronomical present, in relation to his future (gastronomical or otherwise)is a good respect for food."

The editor's include wonderful recipes and Fisher insights that are very relevant today. Her writing is witty, honest, and a joy to read. She was a no-nonsense kind of a good way. I highly recommend this book. It is a must for those who love to collect worthwhile cookbooks/books about food.

1 comment:

Shankari said...

That sound like a gr8 book to read..