I love to read food writing: both non-fiction and fiction. I am almost ashamed to admit that I have not read anything by M.F.K. Fisher before now. Many regard her as one of the best food writers.
Fisher’s The Gastronomical Me is a collection of autobiographical essays that cover time from 1912 through 1941. In 1929 Fisher got married and sailed with her husband to France were she tasted her first real French food and started down the road to being a true foodie. Fisher talks about her first experience eating hand-cut potato chips in Europe:
There were big soft leather chairs, and on the dark table was a bowl of the first potato chips I ever saw in Europe, not the uniformly thin uniformly golden ones that come out of the waxed bags here at home, but light and dark, thick and paper-thin, fried in real butter and then salted casually with the gros sal served in the country with the pot-au-feu.
They were so good that I ate then with the kind of slow sensuous concentration that pregnant women are supposed to feel for chocolate-cake-at-three-in-the-morning. I suppose I should be ashamed to admit that I drak two or three glasses of red port in the same strange private orgy of enjoyment. It seems impossible, but the fact remains that it was one of the keenest gastronomic moments of my life.
Through Fisher’s essays we travel back and forth by sea from the US to Europe and South America. While all of the essays in this book aren’t food-centric, the points in which she does write about food in this collection were stellar. I love it when food writing makes me salivate. Fisher’s prose is amazing, witty and pessimistic. She went through some difficult events in her life and you can feel her pain coming through the pages. I recommend this essay collection to anyone interested in travel and food writing.