Read The Gastronomical Me by M.F.K. Fisher David Bullen Online


If one imagines M.F.K. Fisher's life as a large colorful painting, it is here, in The Gastronomical Me, that one sees the first lines and sketches upon which that life was based. In what is the most intimate of her five volumes of her "Art of Eating" series, the reader witnesses the beginnings of a writer who, with food as her metaphor, writes of the myriad hungers and satIf one imagines M.F.K. Fisher's life as a large colorful painting, it is here, in The Gastronomical Me, that one sees the first lines and sketches upon which that life was based. In what is the most intimate of her five volumes of her "Art of Eating" series, the reader witnesses the beginnings of a writer who, with food as her metaphor, writes of the myriad hungers and satisfactions of the heart....

Title : The Gastronomical Me
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780865473928
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Gastronomical Me Reviews

  • Jeanette
    2019-04-25 21:33

    "The baker had a fight with the chef soon after we left port, and the barber took over all the pastry making..."Mary Frances had the perfect recipe for blending food writing and autobiography. Inimitable, and such a product of her era. Of all her books, this is the one most suitable for non-foodies. The Sensual Me might have been a better title. Food and drink (LOTS of drink) do get a lot of coverage, but that's only a slice of the book, not the whole pie. Along with the gastronomical, she offers up impressions visual, tactical, aural, and visceral. The chapters are loosely connected snapshots of her life, roughly chronological but with large blocks of time unaccounted for. She begins in 1912 at age four, with her first memory of an irresistible taste -- the foam on top of a kettle of strawberry jam. On through boarding school and her first live oyster, followed by a college gluttony phase, and then Dijon, France as a newlywed. Those early years in France brought the discovery that food was something to be relished and treated with reverence, and it set the course for her life as a gourmand and food writer. [A big chunk of this part of the book was lifted wholesale and plopped into a much later memoir, Long Ago in France, which I read a few months ago. Skip that one. This one's better.] After they leave Dijon things get a little hazy, and I suspect some deliberate vagueness. Mary Frances started a new relationship while in the process of divorcing her husband. She never explains exactly how things developed between herself and Chexbres, the new man. They seem to have led a near-idyllic life in Switzerland until the coming war forced them to flee in the 1930s. She nursed him through a lingering illness until he died, and was on her own at the close of the book. She ends the book in the early 1940s with a maddeningly cryptic story of a trip to Mexico featuring a mariachi musician called Juanito. She was only in her mid-thirties when this book was published in 1943, and I got the feeling from the way it ended that she might have been planning to pick up where she left off at some time far in the future. I've tried to read some of M.F.K.'s other books which are devoted strictly to food. For me, they can't measure up to this one. Her gift for observation and her dry and often mordant wit are best suited to these first-person reminiscences.

  • Siri
    2019-05-06 02:26

    I really wanted to like this. Had been intrigued by MFK Fisher and was looking forward to finally reading her. But I don't understand what all the fuss is about. While there were parts that I enjoyed, in her descriptions of food and relations with others, most of it I didn't like. And I really didn't like her. In a word, snobby. I realize it was written 70 years ago, but she was really full of herself. And the gaps in storytelling are rather disconcerting. One minute she's madly in love with husband Al, and the next, in referring to a woman they boarded with, she says they both got divorces in the same year. Won't be reading her further.

  • Andrea Conarro
    2019-05-16 19:33

    I don't know how I stumbled upon MFK Fisher, but now that I have, I don't know how I missed her. She is a premier food writer, and a must-read for anyone who loves foodie-type books. This one is about her early food years.

  • else fine
    2019-05-09 00:50

    This is the way food writing should be done. In her careful, spare, elegant way, Fisher uses food to write about everything else that means anything in life: love, war, death, and second chances. One of the most beautiful works of modern English.

  • Sonia
    2019-05-24 00:51

    Loved this. Thanks to Connie for her Goodreads review, because I would never have picked it up otherwise. Ridiculously good writing about growing up, love, the Second World War, loss, travel, and food, etc. and nice loose approach to memoir. Agree with Connie that some of the early chapters are particularly lovely. On being alone with his daughters for a car trip without their mother, her father "saw us for the first time as two little brown humans who were fun." There's an incredible chapter about oysters and the all-girls' boarding school Christmas dance which I've read about three times. And a charming description of lettuce, cream cheese and anchovy, and ginger ale orgies that she, her cousin, and her cousin's roommate indulged in at their faraway Illinois college in 1927-1928:"We would lock the door, and mix the cheese and anchovy together and open the ginger ale. Then we would toast ourselves solemnly in our toothbrush mugs, loosen the belts on our woolen bathrobes, and tear into that crisp cool delightful lettuce like three starved rabbits. Now and then one or another of us would get up, go to a window and open it, bare her little breasts to the cold sweep of air, and intone dramatically, "Pneu-mo-o-o-onia!" Then we would all burst into completely helpless giggles, until we had laughed enough to hold a little more lettuce." It occurs to me that this is not so different from some of my own college experiences.

  • Ammie
    2019-05-15 21:38

    This is, in theory, a book about food. But a lot of it's not actually about food. There's a lot of talk about A) alcohol, B) Random events in the author's life, and C) traveling on boats. But for all that, I liked most of it fairly well. MFK Fisher wrote about food in the 30's and 40's (at least in this particular book) shamelessly. Apparently, initial readers thought her essays must have been written by a man because the style was so forthcoming. Her writing is, for me, very reminiscent of comfort food, actually. She writes about good wine, good liquor, good cheese, particularly good meals, waiters, and the atmospheres in which she experienced all of these things in a very personal but not intimidating way. I haven't tasted the vast majority of what she writes about, but she made me feel okay with that and like I could still just sit back and imagine the tastes and textures. (I actually looked this book u because I once read an essay by Fisher about the joys of mashed potatoes and ketchup that was one of the most vivid, sensuous things I've ever read.) That said, in between all the food is a lot of weird stuff: homicidal cooks, weird facts about her physical reactions to sea travel, anecdotes about her landladies and husbands and World War II and naked exchange students and all manner of other things. Some of it's interesting and pairs well with the food, but some of it is just jarring. Ah well.

  • April Ives
    2019-05-18 23:41

    Let me begin by saying that I gained at least five pounds over the course of reading this book! I also consumed a few extra bottles of wine and the only thing missing was the extraordinary food that is not usually available on the income of college students. Although I had to settle for cheese and crackers with my wine, MFK Fisher’s collection of essay seated me next to her on this trip back in time.Fisher’s writing style is charming and quite picturesque. She describes her surroundings with ease and the flow keeps pace with her vibrancy.There were some dishes that I was unfamiliar with. Not being a student of French cuisine, I desperately wanted to run out and purchase a French dictionary, but then I remembered to use the internet. Voila! That will help me remember not to assume my readers understand. The other dishes had my mouth watering and my soul craving that fabulous experience of real food, on real plates, surrounded by real people. I contracted indigestion several times simply by marveling at the amount of food this woman could consume in one sitting. “More than once pure bravado was all that kept us from tumbling right into the nearest ditch in a digestive coma.” (page 93) The characters are so developed that it was easy to make friends with them, or laugh at them, or in the case of Ora, wonder at them. There was one word which I felt was overdone and only for the fact that it was an odd one to be used so frequently, which will remind me not to overuse my favorite word in my writing. Going forward whenever I see or hear the word “somnolently” I shall think of dear Mrs. Fisher and her mostly delightful remembrances of times not so distantly past. I have placed several of her other works on my reading list, but I won’t read them until I shed these five pounds.

  • Patty
    2019-05-03 23:41

    If the bookmark in my copy of The Art of Eating is any indication, I last read this book around 1985. I had not forgotten Fisher and her writing, but I had jumbled The Gastronomical Me together with the other four books in The Art of Eating. This time round, I am reading this memoir because my book group is discussing it.Fisher must have been a fascinating friend. She seems to love life, food and friendship. She has a real way with words - her description of eating oysters made me think about my first experience with those slippy animals. I am very happy to be reacquainted with Fisher, her family, Al and Chexberes. Given all the food books that have been written since Fisher started, I think her essays hold up very well.It has been almost 30 years since I last read this book. This time, given what has happened in memoir writing over the years, I wondered how much of this book is true. Which has led me to The Poet of the Appetites, a biography of Fisher. I hope this won't spoil my love of Fisher's food writing.If you have read Tender at the Bone, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or The Omnivore's Dilemma, you might want to read this memoir. I believe none of those books could have been written without Fisher blazing the food trail in the middle of the 20th century.

  • Mara
    2019-05-19 19:26

    Fun reading while fasting.So what I didn't expect is that she would be so funny, but in that way that people look at me surprised after knowing me for a while, and say, with a slight question in their voices, "You're funny?" And it's not funny for funny's sake, it's part of her enviable self-assurance and the ability to focus on a good meal when the world is going to pieces and her sureness of how things should be ("I discovered, there on the staidly luxurious Dutch liner, that I could be very firm with pursers and stewards and such, I could have a table assigned to me in any part of the dining room I wanted and, best of all, I could have that table to myself. I needed no longer be put with officers or predatory passengers, just because I was under ninety and predominately female." and, oh, also "The room was wonderful, austere and airy the way I like a bedroom to be.") I love being allowed to draw my own conclusions as a reader, so that while horror and brutality seem to lurk in the background of every sumptuous meal, that adds to the meaning and preciousness of the food rather than detracting from it.

  • Susan Tekulve
    2019-05-08 21:35

    This unusual and lovely book by legendary food writer, MFK Fisher, was a revelation to me. She recounts the story of her life--her childhood spent in the shadow of a Victorian-era grandmother; her first marriage to an academic; her travels through France during and after the war, and her second marriage-- through the sense of taste. Through her voluptuous descriptions of food, she creates atmospheric descriptions of the places where she ate, and moving portraits of the people with whom she shared these meals. The prose is exquisite, and Fisher' s approach to life is adventurous, stoic, and ahead of her time. This is the best kind of food writing--the kind that addresses our deeper human hunger for love, independence, art, and beauty.

  • Linda
    2019-05-05 20:49

    My first foray into food lit. Seriously - I hate reading/talking/listening about food. I just like eating food. But then this turned out to not really be a "foodie" (I also hate that word) thing, and so I was actually liking it. But then, sigh. It's really disjointed. Like, basically it seems like you're reading a bunch of blog entries. Which is great for blogs, less so for books. I wanted editorial cohesiveness so badly, and I got none, but she does have some great passages and interesting ideas, and you get to figure out how she really came into being a confident adult self by tasting new foods, cultures, and people. As for Juanito? Um - yeah. I've got nothing.

  • Annie
    2019-05-05 19:32

    An odd book. There seemed to be a lot that was interesting going on in the background, rather than the foreground of this memoir.

  • Erin
    2019-04-25 20:53

    To create a truly excellent dish quality ingredients must be used, certainly, but more important are the skilled hand, the discerning palate, and the acquired wisdom of a good cook. M.F.K. Fisher was just such a cook, not only in her various kitchens, but as she stirred and seasoned the events in her life, and most of all perhaps when she served her literary concoctions to the widest range of guests she had ever encountered, the reading public. It is in this spirit that she wrote The Gastronomical Me. In a book that begins with her childhood and goes on to span 29 years of her life, Fisher writes about her appetites both culinary and spiritual. The cook in the kitchen is analogous to the individual in the wide world, buffeted by steam, awash in strange smells, burnt by haste. And when the cook’s work is done the guest at the table carries the analogy, as partaker of the sweetness and bitterness of life. So her tranquil childhood passes in a series of vignettes that include the summer ritual of canning, a roadside dinner with her little sister and father, a casserole disaster, a review of a few household cooks, and finally a cross country train ride (as seen from the dining car of course) and ends with a flourish in a New York city restaurant. There she orders, for the first time, under the tutelage of an uncle, a more adventurous dinner than ever before. Of course this is just the appetizer, her marriage to Al is washed down with strong Burgundy, followed by her growing familiarity with rich French cooking, and the simple suppers she cooked in a series of her first tiny kitchens. The main course is Swiss, grand dinners at home with Chexbres, visiting friends and parents and siblings, fresh produce from the garden, more good wine, some traveling and truite au bleu, all exquisitely seasoned with nostalgia because of course, no feast can last forever and the war is coming and Chexbres will fall ill, lose his leg, and soon be dead. Destruction then, is the bitter digestif which is followed by a plane to Mexico to visit her brother and sister in Jalisco. The final chapter is almost penitent, a response, perhaps, to gluttony. In her best moments Fisher transposes the yearnings of the heart over the hungers of the stomach. In her Foreward she writes: “I tell about myself, and how I ate bread on a lasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.” The implication is that all that is nourishing and sustaining is ultimately perishable, that pleasure is ephemeral, and should therefore be savored and shared like a good meal. Throughout The Gastronomical Me we revisit two tableaux: Fisher at a table with her intimates, and Fisher dining alone. “…I taught myself to enjoy being alone” she assures us, though we might well wonder how this happened, since the development of her character is often obscured by the descriptions rising like delicious aromas from the dishes lovingly placed before us. The conceit of the book is that the development of her palate signifies the development of character. The metaphor is appealing but the former is not interchangeable with the latter, and Fisher, knowing this, distracts the reader from more profound revelations by throwing a dinner party just when she seems the closest to a personal revelation or when the affairs of the world threaten to encroach on the garden, the wine cellar, or the restaurant. We catch a glimpse of fascists with a prisoner on the train, but wasn’t the lunch delicious, and how kind of the waiters to warn us about the freshly spilled blood on the platform. It is not as if Fisher is burying these things within the narrative, the blood is there, but it is sometimes dismaying that, being left to watch all this from the windows of the dining car as it gathers speed leaving the station we are still expected to profess an interest in the food and the charming company. There are great moments when Fisher herself shines through, and we see that she is more than just the hostess at the banquet of her life, that she has a profound sense of the location of that banquet and the circumstances outside of her own charmed circle, as when she writes in the last chapter: “…I knew all there was for me to know about Jaunito. And what I knew made me sorry that any of us had ever gone to that village, and ashamed that we were so big, so pale, so incautiously alive.” The remorse she finally feels, upon recognizing that traveling around and tasting new foods does not a moral person make necessarily is hard won, and the construction of the book lends credence to her realization. Before WWII Americans with the privilege to do so could, we imagine, travel Europe sampling the local cuisine while remaining blissfully ignorant of any sense of responsibility or moral injustice. After the international loss of innocence that marked the middle of the 20th century that blissful ignorance would have been harder to maintain, and travel in Latin American would have certainly proved challenging to anyone hoping to linger in that charmed state. In this way the personal tragedy of Chexbres’ death is situated in the book in such a way that it almost serves as a stand in for the destruction and desolation that was happening in Europe at that time on a much grander scale. The development of her palate, then is made to signify development of character since the conceit of the book is that the latter is a metaphor for the former. though we might wonder how this was accomplished since her character does not seem to develop as much as her palate does. and that therefore a well-prepared course of happiness should be savored and shared because otherwise it will spoil.circumstantial. The development of her discerning palate then, the cultivation of skilled hands, the acquisition of a cook’s wisdom

  • sevdah
    2019-05-10 21:48

    MFK Fisher is my favourite food writer - for her, a plate is always a thing of the world, not just a meal on it's own; she makes her reader vividly taste the food, but also the setting, the conversation at the table, the mood of the day. She's smart, big-mouthed, funny as hell, and at her best in this memoir about travelling in Europe to discover her taste for living, loving, eating, and meeting brilliant people. Favourite part - her lessons on how to travel, be, and eat alone.

  • Cleo
    2019-05-03 19:48

    "In 1929, a newly married M.F.K. Fisher said goodbye to a milquetoast American culinary upbringing and sailed with her husband to Dijon, where she tasted real French cooking for the first time. The Gastronomical Me is a chronicle of her passionate embrace of a whole new way of eating, drinking, and celebrating the senses. As she recounts memorable meals shared with an assortment of eccentric and fascinating characters, set against a backdrop of mounting pre-war tensions, we witness the formation not only of her taste but of her character and her prodigious talent."I'm still not sure what I think of this book; it's so strange and the mood quite puzzling. I enjoyed the writing, I suppose, but I'm still unclear as to what the goal of the book was. There aren't any specific recipes, so it's basically just a chronicle of Fisher's gastronomic adventures, starting from her early childhood and eventually moving on to France (Djon).I picked up The Gastronomical Me while browsing; I love food and reading mouthwatering food descriptions, and I had also heard the book described as being brilliant and about so much more than food. The Gastronomical Me is a puzzling book. I liked certain aspects of it, but others just confused me. It's just so odd, and all those "pre-war tensions" didn't make much sense to me. I guess Fisher just assumes that the reader knows what her situation is; for example, she and her second husband (?) are living in this idyllic location, and these people come to visit her, people who she presumably doesn't know. Yet Fisher doesn't say anywhere that she's running a boarding house or something like that. I guess my complaints about this book don't make much sense either; it just...bothered me in certain parts. In fact, I'm not even sure that "Chexbres" was her second husband; in the first part of the book, she's living in Djon with her husband Al; then she recounts a voyage with the man she's falling in love with, and then suddenly Al is completely out of the picture and she's living with Chexbres. Poor Al. I certainly don't mind making inferences, but the gaps in her narration were just too much. I suppose the focus was on the food, but also on the people she eats it with, and if you're going to write a memoir, you should be fairly clear. This wasn't.I actually put aside this book and started reading The Patron Saint of Liars; I wasn't quite ready to give up on it altogether, but I definitely needed a break.It's quirky, to be sure, but I didn't end up finishing this book, which is populated by eccentric characters, memoir-style narration, and descriptions of food. It all sounds very good, but the execution was just not to my taste (see what I did there?)

  • Jessica
    2019-05-14 18:26

    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.

  • meeners
    2019-05-12 20:52

    there is no greater feeling of bliss than falling in love with a book two pages in. love at first read! SWOON!edit: it is only too tempting to use food metaphors to describe this book ("to be savored like a _________," "rich and mellow as a ___________ wine") but i am trying to fight the good fight and resist the urge. this memoir was first published in 1943 and contains more than enough unsettling moments of blind privilege, but it is also a testament of clear insight and honesty and an astonishing, unforgettable homage to "hunger satisfied," in fisher's words. ...oh, ok. i am going to make ONE food analogy. reading, like eating, is a necessity for me; i can't NOT read. but books like these remind me what both can be, at their best: simple exquisite pleasure.I tell about myself, and how I ate bread on a lasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.There is food in the bowl, and more often than not, because of what honesty I have, there is nourishment in the heart, to feed the wilder, more insistent hungers. We must eat. If, in the face of that dread fact, we can find other nourishment, and tolerance and compassion for it, we'll be no less full of human dignity.

  • Carol Chapin
    2019-04-25 18:33

    I had vaguely heard of “MFK Fisher” before, but really didn’t know anything about her. When I showed this book to a member of our book club, she commented, “Yes, we should read her.” When I looked up MFK Fisher on the internet, I was very surprised to see her called a “Food Writer”. I had thought “The Gastronomical Me” was an exception, a book with the theme of food, which isn’t actually a theme of food! I sought to find her “normal” books. Reading further, I see that she did write other things, but was most successful with food writing.“The Gastronomical Me” is a series of autobiographical vignettes, spanning from 1912 to 1941, but of particular interest during the pre-WWII years of 1935-1939. Food plays a large role in these stories, but food is only partially the point. She talks of hungers that need to be sated, beyond food. In her Foreword: “…when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and…the fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.” Because these are vignettes, there are gaps in her life story which left me wondering - what happened with first husband Al, with whom she was so in love? One entry hints at their alienation, but not why. I found myself very interested in this unusual woman, and I did resort to the Internet to find out more.

  • spoko
    2019-05-05 21:46

    Really great book. The first few chapters and the last few, especially, were absolutely wonderful. Which is not to say that it drug in the middle—it really didn't. If it had all been as good as those chapters on either end, it would have been a nearly perfect book. Still, I loved it as it was.The book is a memoir, told almost exclusively through descriptions of food, eating, etc. In case you're not familiar with MFK Fisher, that's the kind of writing she does—it's about food, but it's about so much more. I guess you could say (and in fact she does say at several points) that she's speaking also about metaphorical hunger. True enough, but still it doesn't at all capture the work. She's talking about what it means to grow up, to become yourself, to fall in love and back out again (and back one more time), to be a woman, to travel, to survive a spouse, even what it means to live in a world on the brink of war (the memoir covers her life from 1912–1941). And other things besides, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. And along the way, she has plenty to say about the food.I loved the book. I've also found myself quite a bit hungrier as I've read it, of course. :) That part's not going to go away. I read it for an online book group, alongside Ruth Reichl's Garlic & Sapphires (which I also enjoyed, though not as much as this one).

  • Melissa
    2019-05-06 19:34

    A treat for anyone who sees food more than something just to satiate hunger and who realizes that pivotal life experiences often occur around a shared meal, formal or not. I'll let Ms. Fisher speak for herself when she responds to the question of why she writes about food and hunger rather than wars and love: "There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk." Or, "I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved sustain them truly against the hungers of the world." She writes these little missives in vignettes (read: short chapters) about her experiences through life, ranging from WWI America as a child to occupied France as a woman in love. Her writing is like literary sensualism: it doesn't hit you upside the head, but lures you into her story like the first bite of a fabulous multi-course meal. The material gets heavier at the end as she finds solace in the death of her soul mate, but I was really surprised at passages that should seem pretentious, but came off just beautifully. A wonderfuly read for people who like words and food equally. For Ms. Fisher, food is a metaphor for life.

  • Lesa
    2019-05-15 19:52

    My first MFK Fisher. I have been wanting to read her since 198something, when Julie Burchill, in one of her essays in The Face, mentioned her and how brilliant she was. Some 20-odd years later, I've finally done it. A thoughtful gift for a trip to France. To read this book, a memoir through food, much of it taking place in the Dijon region, while on holiday in France, made my summer eating all the more vivid. The highlights were on detours to Spain and Switzerland, actually. In the Extremadura region I ate a partridge stew. A dull yellow color of bright flavor like nothing I've ever tasted. It tasted of the country...most everything on the menu had been crawling around the dry, rolling hills — partridge, boar, hare. And it is all lovely and fresh. With friends in Lugano, we took a little boat across the lake and ate perch in the local style — "cooked" in a vinegary sauce and topped with finely chopped onions, peppers and capers. Cold and pickly — perfect for a warm summer day, with talk of architecturer and art amid people speaking Italian. Fisher is also not afraid to be call her landlady stupid, but that that was why she loved her. And she makes you think about your own childhood food memories. Cap'n Crunch and steamed mullet.

  • Christina
    2019-05-10 18:51

    Wow, this book took me a couple weeks to read. It's a bit dense, but in a good way. Like a serious steak, you have to decide to conquer it & go at it a bit at a time. In the early chapters MLK uses food as an induction to French life and married life. Several chapters (some of my favorites) are about the eerieness of life at limbo and at sea - and she grasps at food like a life preserver. In the later chapters food serves as a reminder of past joys, as she drifts in gloom after her second husband's suicide.The writing is WONDERFUL. She's one of the most fantastic prosists I've ever read, and I want to emulate her, but alas, I'm not that good.My only complaints: There's no explanation of the chapter headings and why so many are the same. Are these entries in a weekly column? We never know. Also, I had to Wikipedia MLK Fisher to figure out what was going on behind the scenes with her marriages and WHY she traveled back and forth between France and Switzerland and California by sea so much. If you think of it like piecing together an understanding of a life through a collection of letters, as opposed to reading a novel where everything's served up on a silver platter, it's easier to swallow.

  • Courtney Cochran
    2019-05-04 19:53

    The Gastronomical Me is easily one of the most profound books I've read. Deeply moving in its portrayal of war in the way of Atonement, but with lots and lots of joie de vivre mixed in for good measure, it's about as real as it gets. And, I should add, balanced: Fisher's book exposes both sides of humanity - the evil and the gracious - and, also in equal amounts, the blessings and curses fate doles out during one's lifetime. She doesn't mince words, doesn't protect you from life's realities, but she rewards you with such beautiful feasts both real and metaphorical that it's impossible not to feel that in this book lies proof that life - though fleeting and sometimes agonizing - is worth the struggle and celebrations along the way. Further, that each meal, no matter how small or briefly enjoyed, is a precious pause worth savoring. And though I was deeply bummed when the book was done, I'm pleased that I get to savor it a bit once again every time I tuck into a marvelous meal. Very, very well done, MFK.

  • Dorothy
    2019-05-04 22:43

    Few readers have heard of M.F.K. Fisher. She’s often been relegated to the nebulous “food writing” category, stuck in some dusty corner with unworthy companions such as Jamie Oliver and Rachel Ray. It’s a crying shame, really. She has a wonderful, witty voice, and The Gastronomical Me is a prime example of her beautiful prose and her uncanny ability to convey raw human emotion in a few simple sentences. Food writing seems incidental to this book, because Fisher spoons it out in very small portions while regaling her readers with tales about the French way of life. Along the way, she writes about her turn-of-the century girlhood in California, moving to Dijon, pre-war tensions in the twenties and thirties, the dissolution of her first marriage and the tragic death of her second husband. I absolutely devoured this book, and would recommend it to anyone who has an appreciation for a life well-lived, and a story well-told.

  • Constance
    2019-05-08 01:40

    Wonderful book; excellent writing. Best enjoyed slowly and piece by piece (yes, like food). The beginning essays, about being young and discovering food and life and what it all means, are absolutely lovely. 4.5 stars.Two caveats: Food seems a bit of an afterthought in some of the essays, which was disappointing for a reader (such as myself) who was promised a theme and therefore was always wanting food to take on a Romantic symbolic role and tie everything together. Also, M.F.K.’s writing has a (somewhat Didion-esque) matter-of-fact privilege and condescension about it that one has to get used to, and sometimes she takes it a little far both in content and in tone (particularly in the numerous passages where she outright talks about people being jealous of her, even though it was probably true).

  • Barbara
    2019-04-22 23:44

    There is a strange, almost dreamlike quality to this book. While it is autobiographical, it is nothing as prosaic as a straightforward account of her life. Instead, it is a sequence (in mostly chronological order) of vividly recounted experiences - each one full of meaning (although sometimes what it meant escaped me). The background to each was never explained and it jumps from one to the next with only tenuous connections, just like a dream sequence. The only common theme is (obviously) the detailed, sensuous recounting of the (copious quantities) of food and drink she consumed. It is very well written, with a great deal of passion, but I couldn't help but dislike her. Reading this was altogether an odd experience.

  • Kate
    2019-05-13 22:46

    This was a tough one-between a 3.5-4. I really enjoyed her writing. She lists the foods she ate but she focuses more on the people and conversations and situations and I LOVED that. Another bonus is that her stories made me think about all my stories and I felt my thoughts wandering in that direction. While that was an unexpected surprise, it also made it hard to concentrate on the book. The book sort of jumps around and skips chunks of her life so all of a sudden you think-where did this guy come from? I had previously read about her life, so I knew, but new readers may be stymied. Also, this book will make you hungry. I don't know how she stayed so thin and ate so much. I gained 10 pounds just reading it!

  • Heidi
    2019-05-20 23:42

    MFK Fisher is a food-writing legend that I knew nothing about. I tried starting with one of her other books, "How to Cook a Wolf," but I just couldn't get into it. It's like I had no context to understand it. Now that I know more about her, though, I might give that one another try.This is a quiet book, tender and little dreamy. The early chapters talk about crossing the ocean to France and Switzerland in ships, an experience so totally foreign to me. Especially since it covers her life in the 1930s and '40s, an era when women traveled in flannel suits and heels and hats, and rarely alone. Her chapters about living in tiny apartments in Dijon and the meals they made there really made me miss France. Food just tastes better there...

  • Amelia Kibbie
    2019-05-07 19:28

    On the back cover it says, "I do not know of anyone in the United States today who writes better prose." So said by Auden. Yup. That pretty much covers it!Fisher has this way of taking something that we consider mundane (eating) and crafting stories around food experiences in her life. But it's more than that -- she just makes the obvious and the typical seem magical by the way she writes about it. I did a little research on her life to get some of the references in the book, but mostly, you should just read it and enjoy it. Let the MFK Fisher in your mind be the one that is real.

  • Carol Smith
    2019-04-23 21:34

    Great writing, a superb mélange‎ of memoir and food writing. She covers her life in foodie memories from earliest childhood through 1943. I was particularly moved by her accounts of the rising evil in her mostly European environment from the 1930's on. Some of her stories will move you to tears. That being said, I'm not quite sure I'd like her if I met her in person. She's a product of her times, of course, but she comes off as overly critical of others and a bit too ingrained into the class system for my taste.I loved her scathing description of airplane food. If only she could see us now...