Thursday, March 17, 2005

I was feeling a little hungry for food writing the other day, so I picked up one of my favorites--M.F.K. Fisher's The Art of Eating. It's an omnibus of five of her books, some of which are amusingly revised. I like them all, but I think my particular favorite is The Gastronomical Me, mainly because it gives her personal history with food. It gets a little odd at the end, with vague mentions of her various partners in later life, but I always like reading about people's childhoods, especially the unusual ones.

How To Cook A Wolf was a welcome read as I'm trying to feed us economically--she describes how to cook cheaply yet still eat well. Of course, there's also the recipe for "Sludge", a dish for one's most impecunious times that I hope never to try. But it's good to be reminded that an excellent meal can be made of, for instance, eggs and a few vegetables--omelette, frittata, souffle, etc. Though I wouldn't call my cooking gourmet, I tend to think of beans and rice as my only options for inexpensive rations.

Serve It Forth is fun--a look at food throughout the ages, with much time spent on the oddities of medieval courts. It's interesting to realize how ideas about food have changed over the years. Even some of the things Fisher mentions as a normal part of her diet fifty years ago seem a bit unsavory to me, though not nearly as bad as the popular medieval seasoning of the liquid from fermented fish guts. Yum!

I read Consider the Oyster trying to think of the main ingredient as something other than the slippery, rubbery, briny, sandy object I gamely swallowed a couple of years ago after Odious and Peculiar had assured me of their merits. I want props for that willingness to try it, since afterwards I heartily agreed with Jack's description of the taste as like "licking the ocean floor". Anyway, I'm sorry I can't enjoy them with the same ecstasy that others, especially Fisher, seem to, but I must say they really are among the most disgusting things I've ever had in my mouth.

Not much to say about An Alphabet for Gourmets--sort of a smorgasbord of commentary, with various recipes. Fun, but not her best. Still, the entire collection is worth reading, and necessary for anyone serious about food.

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