Read Consider the Oyster by M.F.K. Fisher Online


M.F.K. Fisher, whom John Updike has called our "poet of the appetites," here pays tribute to that most delicate and enigmatic of foods---the oyster. As she tells of oysters found in stews, in soups, roasted, baked, fried, prepared à la Rockefeller or au naturel--and of the pearls sometimes found therein--Fisher describes her mother's joy at encountering oyster loaf in a giM.F.K. Fisher, whom John Updike has called our "poet of the appetites," here pays tribute to that most delicate and enigmatic of foods---the oyster. As she tells of oysters found in stews, in soups, roasted, baked, fried, prepared à la Rockefeller or au naturel--and of the pearls sometimes found therein--Fisher describes her mother's joy at encountering oyster loaf in a girls' dorm in he 1890's, recalls her own initiation into the "strange cold succulence" of raw oysters as a young woman in Marseille and Dijon, and explores both the bivalve's famed aphrodisiac properties and its equally notorious gut-wrenching powers. Plumbing the "dreadful but exciting" life of the oyster, Fisher invites readers to share in the comforts and delights that this delicate edible evokes, and enchants us along the way with her characteristically wise and witty prose....

Title : Consider the Oyster
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780865473355
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 96 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Consider the Oyster Reviews

  • John Jr.
    2019-05-25 16:01

    This exceedingly modest book (a mere 77 pages) presented me with some modest, unexpected dilemmas. Seeing it in a book swap and recalling, from an encounter years ago, that I was determined to read one of her volumes someday, I picked it up, thinking I'd breeze through it and return it to the swap--I'm trying to pare my library. But I find I don't want to let go of it. Now the question is whether it belongs in my kitchen with the cookbooks (because it does contain recipes) or somewhere among the more serious nonfiction. Though I can hardly call myself a cook, I'm tempted at least to try the oyster stuffing in a turkey someday. On the other hand...A good portion of human life in the more indulgent cultures these days is devoted to gastro-porn: a form of life-out-of-balance in which too much time, money, and attention is expended on increasingly fine points of restaurants, recipes, ingredients, schools of thought on nutrition, and the like. Pay attention to sex this way and you may be labeled an addict. M. F. K. Fisher was apparently never susceptible to this kind of excess, because food was apparently never the main point. Like an ellipse (if you remember your high-school geometry), she has two focal points: one is food, the other is, to put it simply, the romance of people and places--i.e., the rest of life. Here, her account includes the curiously bi-gendered life of the oyster itself, an imaginative reconstruction of a dining delight from her mother's boarding-school days, the tale (fanciful but still true in its way) of a nervous collegian hoping to bolster his virility, and the only funny recipe I've ever read, as recounted to her by "a cadaverous old man who had reigned at various times in the kitchens of all the crowned heads and banker-princes of fin-de-Hapsbourg Europe."Because she has restored the balance to my sense of the place food may have in our affairs, in a way that's positively classical--something that no mere cookbook or food-magazine article has ever done--I think I know which shelf I'll put this on.

  • Jim
    2019-04-25 20:49

    This book both introduced me to and sparked my love of oysters and also of MFK Fisher, whom W. H. Auden called "America's greatest writer...." "An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life. Indeed, his chance to live at all is slim, and if he should survive the arrows of his own outrageous fortune and in the two weeks of his carefree youth find a clean smooth place to fix on, the years afterwards are full of stress, passion and danger. . . .""Men have enjoyed eating oysters since they were not much more than monkeys, according to the kitchen middens they have left behind them. And thus, in their own one-minded way, they have spent time and thought and money on the problems of how to protect oysters from the suckers and the borers and the starvers, until now it is comparatively easy to eat this two-valved mollusk anywhere, without thought of the dangers it has run in its few years. Its chilly delicate gray body slips into a stew-pan or under a broiler or alive down a red throat, and it is done. Its life has been thoughtless but no less full of danger, and now that it is over we are perhaps the better for it.""The point about her, as Ms. Ferrary notes in "Between Friends: M. F. K. Fisher and Me," is that Mrs. Fisher is not just a food writer. If she writes better than anyone about tangerines, it's because "underneath it all, she's not writing about tangerines." The tangential nature of the tangerines is confirmed over and over in Mrs. Fisher's writing. Witness this parenthesis to an assertion about the crisp flesh of oysters, for example, in one of her early books, "Consider the Oyster" (1941): " Crisp is not quite right, and flesh is not right, but in the same way you might say that oyster is not right for what I mean."So what is M. F. K. Fisher writing about? Desire, neediness, solace, comfort, satisfaction. Ms. Ferrary finds her sensual rather than sexual. Coming to the writing for the first time, I would dare to disagree. Lots of it seems to me to be about sex. But you cannot be sure."

  • Hilary Hanselman
    2019-05-18 14:54

    A delicious morsel of a book. "It should be opened at street temperature in a cool month, never iced, and plucked from its rough irregular shell at once, so that its black gills still vibrate and cringe with the shock of the air upon them. It should be swallowed, not too fast, and then its fine salt juices, more like the smell of rock pools at low tide than any other food in the world, should be drunk at one gulp from the shell. Then, of course, a bite or two of buttered brown bread must follow, better to stimulate the papilles...and then, of course, of course, a fine mouthful of a white wine."Must read for oyster lovers, food writers/readers, and those who like subtle humor.

  • Donna
    2019-04-27 15:35

    MFK Fisher is my new girl crush. Just look at her. This book really is just about oysters and I wish there was more. Fisher is sharp, snobby and super funny. She has included several recipes. My favorite is To Make a Pearl. In the list of ingredients, 1 diving-girl.

  • Julianne
    2019-04-29 16:42

    MFK Fisher is a snob and I like it. I wouldn't want to have been friends with her but I love reading her words. Bought this book for K a long time ago because he loves oysters, and I stole it from him. Sentences like: "A better [tartar sauce] can be made from this recipe, which is easy if you have an herb garden, and impossible, but still fun to think about, if you do not." Or: "Far removed as this recipe may seem from the ordinary kitchen's possibilities, it still has not that fabulous quality of the rule quoted by everyone from Richelieu's chef to Crosby Gaige, in which you put one thing inside another until you have something more or less the size of an elephant, then roast the whole thing and finally throw away all but the innermost thing. For instance, you start with an oyster. You put it inside a large olive, then you put the olive inside an ortolan (a wee bird called "the garden bunting," in case you are among the underprivileged), and the ortolan inside a lark, and so on and so on. In the end, you have a roasted oyster. Or perhaps a social revolution."

  • Desiree Koh
    2019-04-30 21:33

    As long as it takes for an oyster to slowly evolve its way into crispness/liquoric stupor/optimal salinity is about as long as you'd want to linger over every word, phrase, sentence, paragraph, chapter of this book. Fisher takes her time to nudge descriptions into succinctness, whether directly narrating factual foundations or musing in the heavens of magical realism laced with truth. It's the literary equivalent of slow food, proving there are two sides (probably more) to every bivalve story.

  • Chris
    2019-05-14 19:56

    After reading this book, I had two thoughts: MFK Fisher is a crazy, snobby old loon; and would I ever love to sit next to her at a dinner party. Her writing is witty, knowledgeable and from a different era. There are great recipes; the one on oyster loaves was the most tantalizing to me. At about 75 pages, this book is an easy read. I would read other stuff by this looney old girl.

  • Nat
    2019-04-30 22:53

    I learned that you can make an "oyster loaf" by slicing off the top of a loaf of crusty bread, jamming a bunch of fried oysters in there, covering everything with butter, and then sticking it back in the oven. Sounds tasty.Also, I (think I) learned that oysters are alive when you eat them raw.

  • John
    2019-05-10 16:47

    This is what all food writing should be. So witty and erudite that it barely touches the ground; effortlessly edifying. Full of richness, but easy like a summer breeze. MFK Fisher is a stunning writer.

  • Galen Sanford
    2019-05-07 14:47


  • Brad
    2019-05-22 17:35

    Mandatory reading for the ostriavore. Includes colorful recipes, polemics and oysterlore.

  • Hilary Bowen
    2019-05-23 17:49

    Always a pleasure With wit and billowy prose, MFK Fischer drops the reader into the magic world of the oyster. From cozy British pubs to east coast seaside shucks or a loaf she never quite ate, but nevertheless remembers well, the stories are filled in with smattering of recipes consisting of mostly butter and oysters. If you're not looking for oyster houses by chapter two, I'll eat my hat.

  • Karen
    2019-05-16 14:33

    Writing so evocative, it made me want to go back to the Northwest and have more Oyster happy hours.

  • Mina
    2019-05-16 21:43

    Brilliantly-written by a brilliant woman!

  • Cary Steward
    2019-05-22 21:53

    Great recipes This was a very interesting book that included a lot of delicious sounding recipes that I would like to try.

  • Sarah Ensor
    2019-05-12 22:45


  • Reyna Eisenstark
    2019-05-01 19:40

    Stories, recipes, thoughts about oysters. Just perfect. Fisher could consider anything and it would be a delight.

  • Sarah Holmes
    2019-05-08 22:38

    Interesting topic, educational. Lovely writing and attitude.

  • Margaret
    2019-04-25 15:43

    She is a fantastic writer.

  • Bob
    2019-05-14 16:54

    She is a fabulous painter of word pictures. Like Thomas Wolfe, except with food.

  • Barbara
    2019-05-20 16:53

    I wish I had read this before my father wangled me into eating a raw oyster, several times, in New Orleans when I was a kid; I might have liked them. I m-i-g-h-t be willing to try them again. Then again, maybe not. :-)

  • Sophie Davidson
    2019-05-09 16:46

    If u love oysters like I love them u will love this

  • Katherine
    2019-05-07 14:40

    A nice little book, perfect for reading today. The authors experiences of global oyster eating seem to surpass my own, yet I am surprised at her opinion that Chesapeake and waters farther south hold second rate bivalves while every other oyster was superbly to her taste. I have eaten oysters in France and England, and several areas of our west coast whose taste was less pleasing than my favorite of all, Apalachicola Bay oysters. I was weened on Chesapeake Bay seafood and have eaten especially fine tasting ones recently when visiting my father on the St. Mary's River, shucked for me less than an hour of being tonged to the surface...YUM YUM.Oh, Fisher's writing style and prose was lovely.

  • Everett Darling
    2019-04-27 16:40

    I identify with Consider the Oyster on a personal level, having grown up on the Atlantic and later Pacific coasts, and having had gastronomical and what could be considered professional contact with oysters all my life. I enjoyed her stories, second-hand tales, and explanations but I didn´t enjoy her gender-rific use of "man" and "men" to describe traits of people, or human truths or whatever - my sister loves oysters more than I do, there´s no reason why she shouldn´t include my sister, and women in general. This isn´t the only thing I got from this book, but it´s worth sharing since no one has mentioned it so far, and it´s really annoying.I also felt rather full after reading this book, like I´ve just tried a bit of each recipe.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-24 19:34

    Unfortunately this does not hold up well. The language is dated (and a little pompous) and there are tons of time sensitive references that you will only get if you've deeply immersed yourself in 1940s/1950s pop and socialite cultures (and I haven't). The actual information one can glean about oysters is interesting and some of the recipes look like they'd be fun to try just for the sake of doing it. Her writing about eating and cooking - when she's not making it "relevant" to her day and age - are quite good and I think this is where most modern-day recommendations are coming from. I'd like to read Fisher's book How to Cook a Wolf but am a bit worried it will be more of the same.

  • gwayle
    2019-05-08 17:43

    My colleague charmed me the other day when, in a confiding mood, she told me the story of tasting her first oyster on the half shell. She was in her early twenties when she was invited to a fancy catered party. The host, an oysterphiliac, caught wind of my colleague's oyster virginity and insisted, publicly, that she try one. With the spotlight on her, my colleague gamely tipped an oyster down her throat. Her cheeks promptly burned a shameful red. You see, her mind had leapt to an unexpected analog: this tastes like blow job!Haha, I love that story. I remember this book being OK, too, but not nearly as memorable.

  • Jill
    2019-05-12 19:00

    I chose this book for my book club, based on my recollection of how much I had enjoyed "The Gastronomical Me" many years ago. I'm afraid I won't soon live this one down.The good: MFK Fisher is such a fantastic writer. She puts together a sentence like no other- her imagery is perfection, her words the exact ones needed. The less-good: enfin, this is a book about oysters. And much of it traipses from recipe to recipe, not exactly scintillating stuff for a book club. I enjoyed this despite not being a fan of oysters; however, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone else's book club. ;)

  • Nancy
    2019-04-30 15:42

    Mary Frances Kennedy (MFK) Fisher is a delight to read and she is growing on me with each volume of hers that I take up. She has a very wry sort of humor that is often in evidence, but she also shares her bittersweet memories with us too. Don't let this slim volume fool you. It's not a recipe book, although it contains a number of recipes which round out her wonderful musings on The Oyster!A food and travel writer of the first order, I have yet to read any food or travel writing quite like hers. I will be reading more by MFK Fisher

  • Emmaline
    2019-05-14 18:01

    I was so happy to finally read this. I've wanted to for quite some time, especially after reading a biography of M.F.K. Fisher (she wrote Consider the Oyster for her dying partner, Dillwyn Parrish), but it wasn't available on Kindle. Finally, I received a copy of the physical book. It's a thin little volume, but so witty and richly written. Totally classic M.F.K. Fisher. Made me crave oysters like hell.

  • Fishface
    2019-05-26 20:51

    Leave it to MFK Fisher to write a whole book on Oysters. She was apparently a devoted consumer of these unlucky shellfish, typical of her "I'll eat anything" motto in life. She covers -- you should pardon the expression -- the entire waterfront with this book, with recipes for everything from Oyster Loaf to Hang Town Fry as well as all the mythology and folk beliefs about the benefits of eating screaming, live protoplasm cut out of the shell.