M. F. K. Fisher ~ The Art Of Eating

I’ve run several searches here with different spellings and punctuation but the only thing that came up was on a tuna melt thread. I’m finding that hard to believe. If I’m wrong please point me in the right direction. If not, we can talk about it here. This is my first time reading her, only a quarter way through the book and really liking it. Consider The Oyster was an eye opener and I can’t wait to get to How to cook a wolf. I gather it was controversial back then concerning British readers. Whatever that might involve .Good book So far.


I’m intrigued. I wonder what we found controversial. Maybe having to import a wolf? Still, we’re free of those difficult European Union health concerns now. So bring it on with roast wolf.


I enjoyed all of the Fisher books that I’ve read.

My favorite might be Serve it Forth.

As an aside, if I had to choose four guests for a dinner party, I think Fisher would have to be one of them.

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In my family we have a long tradition of speculating who we would invite to a “Celestial Banquet” when we have passed through St. Peter’s gates. Leonard Cheshire, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Stormy Daniels and Gene Wilder would be among my current guest list.

Another part of the game is to compose a menu from dishes that you have actually eaten, recalling where and when. Scallops on a skewer with lemon and garlic on a bed of rice from L’Escale in St. Vaast in northern France, circa 1980 has always been my first course.


Are the people you decide on required to be ones who might conceivably have got along with each other at an earthly banquet? :slight_smile:

St. Brigid apparently had some quite specific suggestions for how she thought such a banquet ought to be run and who she’d invite. :slight_smile:

A sports “dream team” is easier because even if you select too many high-scoring prima donnas they’ll still probably win.

For me one of the dishes would probably be the fregola sarda we had a Sardinia. Another one would be my mom’s dumplings.

I misspoke. That should have read by British publishers, not readers. Here is an excerpt from her own introduction to the book.

“Meanwhile, in England, the book had been bought by Faber & Faber , which was fine except that because of some political or publishing snafu, the one section that should have been printed for the hungry limeys, How to Cook a Wolf, was omitted. The book was introduced by W H. Auden though, which made it well worth the price of admission to the British scene, and in later printings, the Wolf was included, for reasons quite beyond my comprehension.”

Been busy today so haven’t had a chance to read it yet.


Recommend reading Provence 1970 for perspective that all of these people were human.

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While I thoroughly enjoyed her history lesson when it comes to oysters, I totally disagree with her assessment of a “bad” oyster. She says that a person should know when they eat an oyster if the oyster is “bad”. She seemed to think that a “bad” oyster would taste “bad”,
“ Unless you’re under the table”

My understanding is that there can be some kind of bacteria or toxin in the oyster which is undetectable. Of course this book is 80 years old too.

There are nearly half a dozen separate types of toxins possible. You can’t taste them. Nothing helps: freezing, cooking, cleaning, rinsing, acids, everything you can imagine, are all useless - the only way to avoid the toxins is to never eat the wrong fish or shellfish.

I think they have become much better understood in recent years.

Of course a dead rotting oyster is going to taste terrible, but that’s much less of a worry because you WILL taste that, like she said.


“Of course a dead rotting oyster is going to taste terrible, but that’s much less of a worry because you WILL taste that, like she said.“

I should have just said if an oyster tastes “bad”…it’s well…bad, and left it at that. I wouldn’t last long in the book reviewing business that’s for sure.:slightly_smiling_face:

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Absolutely. I have lived to tell the tale. Taste and aroma don’t necessarily have to be off for an oyster to have gone wrong.


I think it’s me who wouldn’t last as a book reviewer :worried: - but I did want to emphasize that an oyster isn’t always “gone bad” when it’s dangerous - toxic oysters are nice and fresh and taste good.