Read The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher Online


This contains the author's five most popular books - "Consider the Oyster", "The Gastronomical Me", "Serve it Forth", "How to Cook a Wolf", and "An Alphabet for Gourmets". The volume contains an array of thoughts, memories and recipes....

Title : The Art of Eating
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780764542619
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 749 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Art of Eating Reviews

  • Spoon
    2019-04-22 23:16

    even if you're not a foodie, this is a really wonderfull book. no one writes about food like MFK Fisher and no one writes about food better than MFK Fisher. it brings tears to my eyes. i mean, fuck Anthony Bourdin and Kitchen Confidential (even though i enjoyed it) because MFK was writing about offal and wolves long before Anthony Bourdin decided to start wearing Dead Boys tee shirts and taping television shows where he tries absinthe.

  • Rosminah
    2019-04-23 20:46

    This is my all time favorite book, I cannot live without it. I keep a copy at my bedside and take another copy travelling with me. I reread it constantly and reference it in conversation.It is about life and food. How does that not relate to every single person in the world.I first read this collection after returning from living several months in Borneo, where I finally built up the motivation to change my career path and continue my schooling overseas in England. Back home, I found the book on my mother's bookshelves and set about reading it, and it only furthered my determination to do what I needed to do abroad.Five years later, having travelled to Morocco, Spain, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, back to Borneo, all in the name of my studies, and with my degree in hand, I kept this book with me. It educated me in recognizing the soul of food. I've read a few other MFK Fisher books, but none have been as usual as the art of eating.Whenever I see used copies, I snap them up, and give away to friends.

  • Carrie
    2019-05-24 02:23

    MFK Fisher is just so great - I'm humbled by the rightness of her writing and it sounds utterly corny to say that this is a book about love, life, and dignity. There is so much here - I read the Roman and Edwardian shopping lists of "Serve it Forth" to Jeff on our last road trip and we laughed like crazy, followed by her tips on how to keep your cat and dog fed when the chips are down. The quiet, powerful protest of the center book, "How to Cook a Wolf", was so touching to me - how to remain human in the face of an increasingly inhuman world. I'm just finishing "The Gastronomical Me" and it's both heartbreaking and fierce - a hard look at what we do for love that travels from her days as an innocent newlywed in Dijon to the impending war and exile from her beautiful Swiss home. Just marvelous. I so wish this fabulous dame was a friend of mine; she is the most bright, audacious, self-aware, funny dinner guest one could hope to have.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-09 23:30

    If this book weren't a thousand pages thick (and consequently a little unwieldy on the pillow) it would be, hands down, my favorite-ever bedtime reading book. It's like curling up with your best friend - if your best friend were a snarky, sanguine, misanthropic but entirely passionate middle-aged foodie. Food writing has been seriously in vogue since Michael Pollan, but with the recent influx of it that's surfaced around Nora Ephron's impossibly self-satisfied new movie, you can't even open a magazine without stumbling across some article written by any of several dozen rich, thin Manhattanites. Artisan ice cream; absinthe cocktails; organic, farm-raised, free-range miniburgers; locavores, herbivores, organivores -- SNORE-i-vore! They may be writing about food, but they're also writing about style, culture, aesthetics, and (whether they know it or not) economics. They're not really writing about eating. M.F.K. Fisher was writing - lusciously, wryly and humbly - about eating, itself, decades before the word 'organic' implied anything but carbon compound. She is disdainful of trends (although it's fascinating to read of some of them: "fillets of whiting with sherry; calf's head a la Terrapin; aspic of tunny, roast Guinea fowl, apricots in jelly, velvet cream, anchovies Zadioff..."), but she isn't self-righteous. She's just a reasonable, solitary person (with lots of great friends: E.B. White, Clifton Fadiman), who's got a good perspective on life. And, fortunately, life requires food.

  • Zack
    2019-05-14 00:37

    This book is comprised of essays largely un-connected to each other. This allows the book to spend a year on a table near where you often sit, so that every week or so you can pick it up and follow Ms. Fisher to France, or California, or out to sea. Ostensibly, she writes about food. But she does so in such a way that you learn what she's been learning--by sharing in her series of insights into herself, and relationships then humanity at large. Also, this book will light a fire under your relationship with your kitchen. I didn't even know that my concern for a frying pan or my interest in peeling an orange had frozen. This book melted the ice away.

  • Emily Bonden
    2019-05-19 22:25

    Listen to this and tell me you don't want to read these essays: "People ask me: Why do you write about food, adn eating and drinking? ...The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the other."

  • Olivia
    2019-05-09 23:20

    MFK Fisher is always such a pleasure! Her writing is frank, surprising and full of life. I had read The Gastronomical Me before, but got a kick out of Serve It Forth and the Alphabet for Gourmets. Can't even imagine what it would have been like to attend one of her dinner parties!

  • Bob
    2019-05-11 01:28

    Having known for years I should not be putting off reading M.F.K. Fisher on the grounds that being a "food writer" was somehow intellectually provincial, I probably nonetheless did just that. There is also probably no great insight to be gained from putting her in the context of what I have been reading lately, but I have been particularly enjoying the contrast between her unabashedly (and joyously) literary style and the coolly persuasive journalistic élan of Michael Pollan or Marion Nestle's succinct and pragmatic summaries of nutritional biochemistry. This collection (over 700 pages) compiles five separate books Fisher published from the late 1930s onward - I shall not try to plow through the whole thing in a matter of days but I have read "Consider The Oyster" which has juxtaposed itself nicely with Mark Kurlansky's "The Big Oyster".

  • Tracy
    2019-05-02 20:25

    I found this book to be 90% insufferable, 10% wonderful and unlike anything else I've ever read. This book is kind of old, so a lot of the insufferable-ness is just how old fashioned the writing style is. But a lot of the author's attitudes were also pretty obnoxious - her description of nuoc mam was downright racist. While I'm sure her palette is a million times more sophisticated than mine, there are some things that she doesn't appreciate which are perfectly delicious. This book is a compilation of several books that were originally published separately. I recommend just reading "How to Cook a Wolf."

  • Sarah
    2019-04-25 01:23

    Finished Serve It Forth and putting aside for now. Fisher's writing is best when she's personal, and even the tactile squalor of a kitchen is sexy in her hands. Favorite passage:There are only three things I need, to make my kitchen a pleasant one as long as it is clean. First, I need space enough to get a good simple meal for six people. More of either would be wasteful as well as dangerously dull.Then, I need a window or two, for clear air and a sight of things growing. Most of all, I need to be let alone. I need peace.From there--from there, on the sill of my wide window, the plan is yours.

  • Miriam
    2019-05-07 22:24

    There are some things to like a lot in this collection. First, I learned to make eggs perfectly how I like them from this book--melt butter over a medium heat, add the eggs, cover, turn off the heat, and wait three minutes. Genius. Second, the idea to appreciate simple pleasures--specific tastes, a nice warm afternoon with people you love, eating and drinking whatever you come upon in another place and doing as the Romans do. Third, the idea that a meal should have a note of whimsy or surprise. And "How to Cook a Wolf" has some decent tips for stretching money and food in times of scarcity. That one is such a nice period piece, too, with its sense of WAR in the background, but her strange unwillingness to talk about it directly. Perhaps all the war talk goes unsaid because it's so obvious that it needs no comment? But it also feels fairly purposeful as an attempt to preserve some sense of haven in an uncertain time.But, oh, is she a snob. It's fine to eat peasant food if you go halfway around the world for it and sit in some "authentic" hovel somewhere and enjoy it (Anthony Bourdain, I'm looking at you, kid). But all those middle-class (or worse, working-class) poor U.S. American saps eating food that they like but not realizing their food is so terrible and they themselves are lesser humans for it. And you just can't find good "help" these days, to make all the food, sit with the children during meals so you can have adult conversation, and teach you their homespun wisdom about cooking (but only if YOU ask THEM). Some of this is cultivated gourmandism, like all the damn times she mentions quails financiere. Some of it is her background. And some of it, the most irritating part to me, is that she thinks she's so open-minded and that she does people a favor by eating their shitty food and being good company around them. One can only imagine the bitch-faces she made (all the while no doubt patting herself on the back for how well she was hiding her contempt for them and their food) that got her disinvited from numerous future dinners.But what sticks with me are her food memories that led me to my own. To little jokes shared with Ben I haven't thought of in years. To shucking corn with my grandpa in an impossibly sunny backyard in summer. When she's focused on improvising and on actually demonstrating love to the people around her, and reveling in food and love in return, she is enjoyable to read. Other than that, she's insufferable, pretentious, and I'm not convinced she's right about things. People who says there's only one right way to prepare something or to eat it or serve it are irritating (not in the least because maybe they're right and I'm just one of the unknowing, unthinking barbarian horde beating down the gate of civilization).

  • Debra
    2019-04-25 18:43

    I had purchased Fisher’s The Art of Eating a few years ago when I realized I could not be a quintessential foodie without having read her works. I was excited for another opportunity to delve into her delicious wit and revisit "How to Cook a Wolf." This book of frugality (and common sense) during the lean years of WWII is pertinent today and many of her tips and ideas are echoed by locavores and modern chefs.Her wry sense of humor, and dare I say snarkiness, is endearing and I started thinking about other food professionals I love with the same dry wit.Segue alert:I can imagine Anthony Bourdain interviewing Fisher on one of his television shows. My imagination runs wild and I can just think of Fisher’s take on some of the new food trends. What would her comments be regarding gourmet food trucks, molecular gastronomy, and, dare I say it, food blogs?What would she think about Bourdain himself? Would they team up? The more I think about this, the more I envision it: Anthony and Mary Frances—On the Road. (Too bad this will never be. I don’t think they even ever met.)And what about David Chang (Mind of a Chef )? I can envision him having deep conversations with Fisher over some sort of adult beverage.Imagine all three together in the same conversation…But, I digress.I was reading the revised edition with Fisher’s notes in brackets throughout. Her insight nine years later is full of self-deprecating humor and even more culinary truths. I loved her frankness: “One of the stupidest things in an earnest but stupid school of culinary thought is that each of the three daily meals should be balanced” (4). Say what you mean, Ms. Fisher. Do you think this practice is unwise? (She is not one to mince words. I love it.)But, let’s consider the egg for this post. Her chapter, “How Not to Boil an Egg,” is poetic. She writes that the egg is the most private of things; that is, until it is cracked. "Until then, you would think its secrets are its own, hidden behind the impassive beautiful curvings of its shell, white or brown or speckled" (54).She continues to write about the best way to eat a fresh egg: raw, boiled, fried or in some spectacular main dish like a frittata. Whether it is a baked French omelet, an Italian Frittata or Chinese Egg Foo Yeung, it is basically the same dish, according to Fisher and the perfect avenue for fresh eggs.“It is a poor figure of a man who will say that eggs are fit only to be eaten at breakfast…”

  • Carol
    2019-05-09 01:30

    After finishing the book, I have to say that the reason for the middling rating's me, MFK, not you.While nearing the end of "Z is for" , it hit me like a ton of bricks - I finally understood that I am not the intended reader. I am not a foodie. I eat to live, not live to eat. Sure, I enjoy food, but not to the extent that I need to to 'get' this book - I don't have the interest/passion. Why didn't it occur to me earlier? If I was obsessed, this may have been a bible for me, but I'm not.Below is my running notes/reviews of the books as I finished them:(view spoiler)[Serve it Forth **: What a pompous ass. I'll trudge on through the next book, but I have better things to do with my time. We shall see.Update - I did enjoy her bit about the dried tangerine, and the chapter "On Dining Alone" but still have trouble with her snarky comments. Even when she seems to be trying to be nice, there is often something negative in there. Is this what people mean when they say she's witty? Plus I would like to see her research cited.Consider the Oyster ***:Although I did skim through some the recipes (not the cracker one though I have been meaning to make crackers, and perhaps this winter I will), I enjoyed her writing and her personality much better in this one.How to Cook a Wolf ***When you're broke, how do you eat well. I understand needing a little extra something when one is struggling, but she seemed to want folks to drink wine with nearly every meal. Was wine really cheap back then? Some of the recipes were delightful.The Gastronomical Me***I'm not sure I can get through this. Some of these little chapters are quaint, some are just awful.Okay, done. Some parts were quite lovely. But the hopping around was jarring. I had to read elsewhere about her life at that time, which gave me a little insight, and sympathy. That said, she sure used the word "thin" and the line "and such" a lot. And again, she sure did drink a bunch.An Alphabet for Gourmets***Quite enjoyed this part, esp. Z. But did she really give her 5 year old daughter whiskey? (hide spoiler)]

  • Robert
    2019-04-30 02:34

    There are five books contained in M.F.K. Fisher's voluminous omnibus The Art of Eating, covering a wide swath of her writing (and eating) in the first half of the 20th Century. There is autobiography, gastronomy, history, even strategies for eating well during wartime rationing -- a vast feast of thoughts on cuisine and the enjoyment thereof.That avalanche of rich commentary threatens to overwhelm the reader's senses at times -- breaks are recommended between books, perhaps within each book as well. I was also amused to find that what makes a meal for Fisher, both in preparation and components, is at times nearly as archaic and wondrous as her recitations of Victorian-era meals were to her.But sprinkled throughout all five books are these particular moments: stories of love or melancholy or friendship or nostalgia that leave you suddenly speechless and heartbroken in the middle of your workday lunch. You slide the bookmark into that spot, close the book, and try to piece your life back together so you can finish a ham and cheese sandwich before heading back into the office.It is not hyperbole for me to say she changed how I think about food writing or indeed what such writing can be. There is a blurb on the back cover from Julia Child, in which she quotes Fisher: "When I write about hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth, and the love of it...and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied."Fisher is just that good a writer, able to weave the tendrils of real, emotional, human life into a subject that can be pretentious or ostentatious in the wrong hands.Five of five stars is not enough for The Art of Eating, so given there are five books in it, I will multiply 5 x 5 and give it a gluttonous 25 out of 5 stars. Heartily endorsed for anyone who lives to cook or eat.

  • Laurie
    2019-05-11 21:40

    M.F.K. Fisher is a skilled writer, but the tone of her writing seems a little alien to today's point of view on nutrition and cooking. She is greatly influenced by French cuisine and epicurianism, but seems at times to slide into something verging on gluttony. It would be a mistake to view her with the eyes of today, but one cannot avoid feeling a vague malaise at the descriptions of tumblers of marc and ice-cold martinis. Nonetheless, since Fisher maintained a glamorous appearance, an active love-life and a slim silhouette, we cannot judge her ill on results. She also had a long and interesting life, tasting all the joys that food, travel and love provide. It's odd to feel that Julia Childs has aged better, though both share a similar point of view.

  • Lori-ann
    2019-05-12 19:23

    The real creator of the genre, MFK Fisher describes each dish, meal, shopping experience, etc. with just enough flourish to make your mouth water. Her writing is economical, but rich in style and vocabulary. There are a lot of essays, and I've taken my time reading them between and during other reads. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in food in general, or even just great writing. This is definitely great for foodies, but will be interesting and enjoyable for so many others.

  • Donna
    2019-04-27 18:26

    The grand dame of food writing. In Gastronomical Me, you get to meet the young Mary Frances Kennedy and learn about her childhood and her first culinary awakenings. In Serve it Forth, you learn of the history of eating from ancient times to the present, interspersed with the author's own revelations. A celebration of life, if ever there was one. Also contains Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, and An Alphabet of Gourmets. Warm, witty, and delightful.

  • Barbara O'Neal
    2019-05-24 00:34

    I only stumbled over this volume by happenstance, and cannot believe I have not read her before. This contains several volumes of her work, and I peeled through all of them, one after the other, in a haze of delight. She is funny and wise and clear-sighted, full of insights about a world that has now fled. Every foodie should read this.

  • Julie Davis
    2019-04-24 22:34

    M.F.K. Fisher was one of the best writers of her time. It is just my good luck that she wrote about food which is one of my favorite topics to read about. Her quick wit, powers of observation, common sense, and wonderful prose make any of her books worthwhile. This collection is simply delightful and belongs on any food lover's shelf.

  • Mari Manning
    2019-05-19 19:41

    Maybe at one time this book resonated, but most of it is very dated. The recipes are from WWII and the experiences are well-described, but seem like something out of a 1950s musical. The essays hop around, so with no narrative to keep the reader engaged, it reminds me of reading random articles on microfiche from old magazines.

  • First Second Books
    2019-05-15 22:35

    This book is lovely.M.F.K. Fisher writes about food and eating in such a wonderful, approachable, delighted way -- it's great to read food writing written by someone whose first tenant so clearly is: I LOVE FOOD.

  • Annie Mueller
    2019-05-04 23:19

    To sum up: I LOVE this book. Food writing of any kind is always a favorite of mine, and Fisher is the master. This collection includes 5 of her books (complete) and is fun to flip through, browse, or read cover to cover. It does always make me hungry, though...

  • Sheryl
    2019-05-21 00:20

    A compendium of several of her books and essays. MFK Fisher's writing rises far beyond her subject. Yes she writes about food, but food is life so she is writing about life. By the middle of this book, I feel as if she is whispering in my ear. She had a unique literay voice.

  • Isaacsondesign
    2019-05-09 18:29

    Read this juicy classic 15 years ago - a must read for the up and coming foodie.

  • Shandra
    2019-05-03 21:36

    50 years of food essays in 5 wonderful books. This anniversary edition was long, and so great that I had to return my copy to the library and purchase one for my home enjoyment.

  • Chris
    2019-05-19 19:45

    FABULOUS. I could read her prose forever. It's also interesting to see how much food hasn't changed, if you ignore the industrial pap category.

  • Polly
    2019-04-30 22:32

    I've mulled over what to say about this book almost since the moment I picked it up. There were sections that captivated and intrigued me, and there were sections I had to shoulder my way through. MFK Fisher's writing about food is beautiful and clever, even if some of the jokes were dated and the hints lost on someone born 30 years after the last book was published. Originally I intended this book to check an item off a reading challenge, but as the 6 months I spent meandering through it progressed I quickly realized this was not a book to be rushed. Rather it was intended to be savored the way MFK would've savored a good Gibson. So I proceeded slowly, reading bits here and there and letting it all soak in. What worked for me was her writing, her wit and her incredible skills as a memoirist. Some of the brightest moments in this book happened when she wrote about leaving a tangerine on a radiator or sharing a sandwich with her father or witnessing an old British woman feasting in the lowest class of an ocean liner. The memories were retold in such a way that I felt like I was there, sharing the essence of them with her. Those moments kept me coming back for more when I tired of hearing about ways to save money during WWII or some odd snippet of culinary history (look up cock ale and you'll see what I'm talking about). I loved that the core of cooking which she describes with such devotion hasn't changed, even if the ingredients or techniques have. Something deep within me resonated when she described the healing powers of kneading a ball of dough. It was a beautiful reminder that those of us who love food have a connection and understanding that transcends generations, even centuries. It was just like Alan Bennet said in the History Boys, "The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. Now here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out and taken yours." Those moments kept me going when my attention began to wander.What didn't work for me were the dated references to pop culture. I'm not criticizing their inclusion, only pointing out that it was difficult to pick up the jokes related to people I knew nothing about. It was like constantly finding myself on the outskirts of an inside joke. I also tired of her continual, reverential mentions of Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. At times I wanted to say, "I don't care what Brillat-Savarin thinks. Tell me what YOU think! You are just as worthy." In the end I learned a lot about MFK and about myself and about the way I approach food and cooking. It did all the things a good book should do--it made me chuckle; it made me think and evaluate my own perspective. Much of this book will not be read again, but I can easily see myself revisiting Gastronomical Me again and again and reliving again and again the magic that MFK Fisher creates when she talks of her life with food.

  • Peter
    2019-05-16 21:22

    This book was my introduction to M.F.K. Fisher and what an introduction it was. This tome contains 5 separate books of short stories, making my over 1 month reading time seem not so bad. They included Serve It Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me, and finally An Alphabet for Gourmets. These five books cover a lot of the same territory but with varying styles.Serve it Forth was an incredible way to start, containing my favorite short story of the entire collection "Borderlands". This story is a gorgeous piece of writing discussing her most famous and interesting food fetish of slightly dried out sections of orange. It's amazing and if you read any passage by her, let it be this one. The rest of the book concerns food history, trends, and what it means to be one who lives to eat rather than eats to live.Consider the Oyster is a collection of stories studying the history of oysters, what makes them wonderful, what makes them disgusting, and how they have evolved over the course of history. Honestly, it made me want nothing more than a simple bowl of oyster stew, and I won't rest until I've had one.How to Cook a Wolf is her most controversial collection, discussing the effects of World War II rationing and how to essentially keep hunger at bay. She does so with sparse recipes, tales of dishes you couldn't possibly create on a ration card to give you something to dream of, and countless parables of the wolf stalking your door. I didn't love this book, and although I found the time and place interesting, it was certainly the least exciting of the 5.The Gastronomical Me is the shining star of this collection. It chronicles the author's coming of age and discovering how food became such a central focus in her life. She discusses some intense personal situations, some racy ones, and altogether creates an incredible book that I would say is by far the best I read here.An Alphabet for Gourmets was a bit of a tedious alphabet which went over many of the same concepts and stories of the first 4 books. By this point I was a bit weary, but did find some excellent tidbits. The stories ranged from the excellent "A is for Alone" to the dreary "Y is for Yak". Certainly a fun read but by the end of this collection, you are reading to get to Zakuski and be done.This was an amazing food primer and a view into food writing of the early to mid 20th Century. A true classic, one you must read, it just did not knock my socks off.

  • Elise
    2019-05-18 18:18

    My rating and review are based only on "How to Cook a Wolf" and about a third of "The Gastronomical Me," because the book was due back at the library before I could get through the entire volume (and I couldn't renew it because there were 4 holds! I guess it's great that a bunch of other people are interested in MFKF)."The Art of Eating" is a super thick volume containing five of MFKF's early books (written in the 1940s), and she writes about food in a voice that is rather unexpected for a woman of the time, and by that I mean, she's feisty! She's witty! She is absolutely charming and hilarious, and so not the demure housewife. Stated differently, she writes with passion of her enjoyment of food and its preparation, rather than about cooking as a housewifely task. Nowadays, virtually anyone, it seems, can be a "food writer;" if you don't believe me, get thee to the Internet, where you'll find hundreds of blogs devoted to any and all kinds of food (some of these blogs are good, but gosh, there are just so many!). MFKF is believed by many to be the original food writer, lauded in the volume's massive introductory pages by the likes of Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Ruth Reichl. And indeed, it's a great experience to read MFKF, the precursor to all the hot-shots in the contemporary foodie world. If, like me, you short on time and can't make it through the entire volume in one go, I highly recommend starting with "How to Eat a Wolf," first published in 1942, where MFKF gives advice to housewives on how to cook, eat, and live economically. Although we, fortunately, do not have to deal with food shortages and rationing nowadays, her practical advice is still super relevant and, as an added bonus, wildly entertaining. I think of her now every time I turn on the oven - what else can we stuff in there to bake or braise or roast, so that we make full use of the hot oven? But my absolute favorite of MFKF's insights is from her chapter entitled "How to Rise Up Like New Bread." Making bread is one of my new hobbies, and so it should come as no surprise that the following words absolutely delighted me: "It takes a lot of time. If you can find that, the rest is easy. And if you cannot rightly find it, make it, for probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread." And yes, indeed, I try to make a ceremony of each sequence of mixing, beating, kneading, punching, and baking that takes place in our little kitchen almost every weekend.I left off the fifth star only because I was quite peeved to read MFKF's demeaning characterization of the Filipino waiters at her fancy California boarding school. I suppose she knew no better at the time; certain words and phrases were the norm, but still, it bothered me.

  • Rick
    2019-05-12 19:38

    M.F.K. Fisher is many people's idea of a writer's writer, with admirers across the literary world. And she is that good. How else could I read 700 plus pages of an anthology of five of her classic works on the gastronomic arts of cooking and eating, including one volume entitled Consider the Oyster, its singular topic? Fisher is so good I'm forever forward tempted to try an oyster, though other foods she discusses, say calf head, she made fascinating without making enticing. Years ago I read Fisher's perfect memoir Among Friends and this belated follow-up read was very pleasurable, though a bit too much in one periodically interrupted reading feast. Browsing in a local bookstore recently I saw two of the volumes included here in individual volumes and that is the best way to read these, not as a single massive work but as they were written and published. The best to start with is the middle book, a five star read, The Gastronomical Me. Fisher's prose is precise and idiosyncratic. She can out-Hemingway Hemingway in the lucidity of her descriptions and in the power of her omissions, adroitly demonstrating how less can build a fuller understanding when more seems to subtract understanding with each additional detail or explanation. She has the dramatic internal tension of a fussy, conservative sensibility coupled with an independent, rebellious spirit with tastes not limited by conventional boundaries. And, as gastronomy is a sensual art, there is something always at least mildly erotic in her writing, without being the least bit salacious. The most disappointing of the five books was the wonderfully titled How to Cook a Wolf, which is never literally about cooking a wolf but how to keep the wolf from the door in times of scarcity (originally published during the Second World War as a guide to coping with rationing and shortages without sacrifice to taste and interest). What hurts the book is an intrusive author commentary interjected into the original text when this anthology was put together. Some of the commentary is funny or charming or clarifying but on the whole it is like having the writer standing over your shoulder as you read, which is exactly how you imagine it would be be: initially and briefly magical but quickly and permanently irritating. Serve If Forth, Consider the Oyster, and An Alphabet for Gourmets are each solidly entertaining reads and would, particularly the last one, have been better enjoyed if I hadn't made the poor reading decision to ruin gastronomy with gluttony. There is much more Fisher out there in the world, and she does memoir very well, so I look forward to letting this meal settle but will be back for Map of Another Town, A Considerable Town, and others.