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Carrot Top

M.F.K Fisher

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I'm curious as to what recipes you've used, and which ones other people have used, and liked or disliked of MFK's.

I wrapped a fried egg sandwich in wax paper and carried it in my pocket before eating, (ala Aunt Gwen), and it was great!

Ref: "H" is for Happy, An Alphabet for Gourmets

SB :biggrin:

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I wrapped a fried egg sandwich in wax paper and carried it in my pocket before eating, (ala Aunt Gwen), and it was great!

Ref: "H" is for Happy, An Alphabet for Gourmets

Yes! Me too! Happy, indeed, is a fried egg sandwich wrapped in wax paper carried in a pocket then eaten! Serious happiness! :smile:

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Recipes I've made specifically from and because of MFK and liked:

Sabri's Turkish Cake

Aunt Gwen's Fried Egg Sandwiches

Radiatior-Dried Tangerine Sections ( :laugh: )

Kasha for Breakfast

"To Stay Soft-Handed" ( :raz: )

Peasant Caviar (this is the eggplant thingie I mentioned earlier).

Each one very simple, very. Each one perfect in its own way. Classic, really, they are the sorts of things that simply move into your life and take their place. :smile:

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Dearest Carrot Top, as usual, I find myself in agreement with you. :)

I couldn't give a fig about MFKF's personal life, as for me her writing provides me with the intense pleasure of evocative, sensual prose. Whether she wore that persona as a character or expressed her true self with those words means little -- they still provide me with a thrill.

I, too, have made the philosophical decision to differentiate between the artist and the work, as I would likely find little to enjoy in the world. For me, reading her work is a profoundly selfish pleasure, so there is less of her and more of me involved in the process.

Given that the AoE is now staring at me from the bookshelf, I think I'll do a bit of Sunday reading. :)


Jennifer L. Iannolo

Founder, Editor-in-Chief

The Gilded Fork

Food Philosophy. Sensuality. Sass.

Home of the Culinary Podcast Network

Never trust a woman who doesn't like to eat. She is probably lousy in bed. (attributed to Federico Fellini)

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I find myself less and less interested in the personal lives of artists.
It is a bit harder to set aside in the case of someone whose writing is, for the most part, autobiographical.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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I find myself less and less interested in the personal lives of artists.
It is a bit harder to set aside in the case of someone whose writing is, for the most part, autobiographical.

As far as autobiography goes, I like to apply Ruth Reichl's dictum of "....true, but not entirely factual."

SB :wink:

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I couldn't give a fig about MFKF's personal life, as for me her writing provides me with the intense pleasure of evocative, sensual prose. Whether she wore that persona as a character or expressed her true self with those words means little -- they still provide me with a thrill.

I, too, have made the philosophical decision to differentiate between the artist and the work, as I would likely find little to enjoy in the world. For me, reading her work is a profoundly selfish pleasure, so there is less of her and more of me involved in the process.

Given that the AoE is now staring at me from the bookshelf, I think I'll do a bit of Sunday reading. :)

Ah. . . .do tell us your favorite parts as they come along, Jennifer? :biggrin::wink:

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I wrapped a fried egg sandwich in wax paper and carried it in my pocket before eating, (ala Aunt Gwen), and it was great!

Was Aof E perhaps where I got the little snippet about the straight-laced schoolteacher whose lunch consisted of a paper-wrapped baguette filled with small broken bits of chocolate? She sat incongruously upon her sandwich until lunchtime, then consumed it---warm, flattened and melty.

Or does anyone remember that from another source? The memory has been rattling around in there for quite a time.


Edited by racheld (log)

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Was Aof E perhaps where I got the little snippet about the straight-laced schoolteacher whose lunch consisted of a paper-wrapped baguette filled with small broken bits of chocolate? She sat incongruously upon her sandwich until lunchtime, then consumed it---warm, flattened and melty.

:laugh::laugh:

What a snippet, Rachel. :biggrin:

I remember a story from MFK about how she ate chocolate with bread on a Swiss mountaintop where it had been offered her by a tall old schoolteacher type of guy, though I think he was actually an old colonel - and there was a frog-like shorter old man who joined them in the repast who might have been a professor. . .she felt no kinship before (rather the opposite, in fact), with either of them, till the moment of communion where all chewed bread and chocolate together. . .

And I remember something about how she (if indeed it was in MFK but the story resonates in memory somewhere) went on a picnic at a separate time, maybe with her sister? - and how they sat on the sandwiches to smash them flat - for they were supposed to be those French sandwiches (savory, with meats and cheese and veggies) made on a baguette where part of the recipe involves flattening with bricks or something heavy for a good long time (eight hours at least?) before serving (can not bring to mind the name of those sandwiches in this exact moment) and how fun that was. :biggrin:

But I don't remember chocolate and straight-laced schoolteachers and bottoms set on top of sandwiches all together in one place. . . :laugh: (though I could be wrong). :wink:

It *would* make a lovely children's poem, though, the very idea of it. . . .if *I* were a child, I would love to read a poem of such a thing. . . :smile: Even as a grownup, I would.

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I wrapped a fried egg sandwich in wax paper and carried it in my pocket before eating, (ala Aunt Gwen), and it was great!

Was Aof E perhaps where I got the little snippet about the straight-laced schoolteacher whose lunch consisted of a paper-wrapped baguette filled with small broken bits of chocolate? She sat incongruously upon her sandwich until lunchtime, then consumed it---warm, flattened and melty.

Or does anyone remember that from another source? The memory has been rattling around in there for quite a time.

Oh my! I have that same snippet in memory! (Its been there a long while too.) It inspired me to eat ghiradelli and sourdough sandwiches in college. yum. Not a huge fan of that chocolate, but its very good with the right tourist sourdough loaf! (I never had the patience to melt the chocolate tho, by that method or any other).

I just got thru AoE and didnt bump into it.

Now Im wondering if its Time-Life Foods of the World, because that's the only other food writing I remember reading back then. (Except for this incredible book of cake decorating, with color plates of international contest entrants, that I nearly kipped from the library til my conscience forced me to both return it AND pay the late fee). If its TL FotW, I think it would have to be in the Provincial France volume, which also included this recipe for porkchops in cabbage and cream that is to die for (gastronomically and cardiac-ally).

Editted: On topic - one of the descriptions that spoke to me in AoE was MFKF's description of eating old dried rubbery pressed caviar in the bar in Paris: to be mumbled over in the mouth.


Edited by Kouign Aman (log)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Was Aof E perhaps where I got the little snippet about the straight-laced schoolteacher whose lunch consisted of a paper-wrapped baguette filled with small broken bits of chocolate? She sat incongruously upon her sandwich until lunchtime, then consumed it---warm, flattened and melty.

Or does anyone remember that from another source?  The memory has been rattling around in there for quite a time.

I'm thinking, Julia?

SB :hmmm:

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A sneaky lurky thought says it was a male writer---my astonishment at a little boy even IMAGINING a grownup lady HAD a bottom---my STARS!!! I truly don't know what I thought that HE thought she sat on. Other than that consensusly-coveted sandwich, which was the envy of all those bread-and-oil-sandwich-carrying pupils.

I did think of it quite a bit some twenty years ago, when I worked as secretary/whatever for Chris' family business. Most of the time, I'd go to the kitchen in the morning and put on a pot of beans and a skillet of cornbread, or a huge vat of soup, or some kind of nice roasty meal in the oven. Any number of the ten employees would come in for lunch, depending on who was on the road at the time.

Occasionally, everyone was out of the building except for Chris' Dad and me. If I knew ahead of time, I'd plan a delicious little lunch, something too persnickety to work on for ten, but nice to share over family reminiscences. I learned a lot about the whole family that way---Chris' childhood, their several homes over the years, how everyone's life came to be in that particular spot.

One morning after a weekend of houseguests, I saw them all on the road with a big Southern breakfast of ham and eggs, homemade biscuits, jams and jellies and all sorts of B&B goodies. I'd said I'd be late to work, and took my time getting the dishes scraped, etc.

Then I remembered a tale dear FIL had told me about his own childhood. The little country school was just around a curve of the winding road we all lived on, our houses sprinkled along the blacktop like dandelions in Spring. He had always walked to school, along with his several siblings, and the oldest sisters had been assigned lunchbox duties. Their Mama always made an extra pan of biscuits at breakfast, and they formed the base of the children's lunch---buttered and sugared, filled with homemade pear or fig preserves, sometimes wedged wide with juicy slabs of country ham or extra-thick bacon, or with a little jar of home-grown-and-bubbled sorghum syrup for dipping.

So, after my houseguests left, I took the remaining three biscuits, which had already been split and buttered at their peak of steamy heat, and I filled two with slices of the nice baked ham I had skillet-fried for breakfast. The other one, a big ole cathead biscuit probably four inches across, received three whole preserved figs from my prettiest jar. The figs lay upon the biscuit like puppies in a nest, dripping with thick clear syrup, and perfectly intact even after all the careful simmering in the jam pot.

I decided to wrap them authentically, so my Saran-accustomed hands wrestled with squares of Cut-Rite which I kept for lining cakepans, tucking and tucking the crinkly stuff, and wondering however it stayed together or kept anything fresh with all the gaps I was leaving. The three biscuits made quite a heavy parcel as I placed them carefully into a small brown grocery sack and folded down the top.

Lunchtime came, and I dumped my baggie of salad-from-home into my bowl, poured the iced tea, and we sat down. FIL looked at his empty plate, then at me, then repeated the process. We held hands and he said the blessing, then I smiled and lifted the hefty little sack from its hiding place in a chair. He opened the bag, lifted out each little packet curiously, set them beside his plate.

As he rustled open the waxed paper and glimpsed the biscuits with their good homey fillings, I saw little gleams of tears puddling in his eyes. I ate salad, giving him a moment I had not meant to create, but which was a good honest response to something which evoked another time in his life.

He picked up a ham one and took a bite. He chewed reflectively, and I supposed that he must be thinking of all those school lunches with past friends and family, of the work of actually raising that pig and doing what was necessary to bring about those tasty hams which swung from the ceiling in the smokehouse, then the cold-shed (where he, as a little moment from his past, did tell me of entering in the sun-to-dark and encountering a chickensnake hanging from the ceiling like a Tarzan-vine. The snake had grazed his face as they made an equally-startled escape from each other).

He bit into the biscuit filled with figs, and an expression of bliss flashed across his face as he savored the burst of juicy-ripe, cooked-in-the-skin figness. And he said that of all the lunches I had cooked since I had been there, that was the best. I never repeated that paper-wrapped lunch again; it seemed like a ONCE moment, and he still fondly mentions our school lunch.

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The figs lay upon the biscuit like puppies in a nest, dripping with thick clear syrup, and perfectly intact even after all the careful simmering in the jam pot.

What a great image.


The Kitchn

Nina Callaway

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The figs lay upon the biscuit like puppies in a nest, dripping with thick clear syrup, and perfectly intact even after all the careful simmering in the jam pot.

What a great image.

It's certainly one of those phrases you're pretty sure you've never seen before!

SB :biggrin:

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I never repeated that paper-wrapped lunch again; it seemed like a ONCE moment, and he still fondly mentions our school lunch.

There used to be a place on the side of the small highway that went near the rural town we lived in - it was a gas station with a grill. Breakfast, burgers and stuff. Country ham used, of course. Grits always, in the morning. :wink:

They always had a sign up trying to lure those driving by. Often, it said "Angel Biscuits". Sometimes, it said "Angel Steaks". I never quite figured out what Angel Steaks were -- it scared me a bit to think of them. . .Then one day the first letter of the gas station sign fell off somehow, so when you'd drive by, instead of seeing "Shell", you'd see "hell" being advertised as the place to come to eat Angel Steaks. . .I never did dare to do that. . .

But Rachel, I think you just served me my first Angel Biscuits. Ethereal, existing in a time and place not here and now, exuding the sense of a light embrace of feathery warmth. Delicious, even spiritually so. :smile:

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Here's the first post in this topic for anyone who cares to refocus on it:
Before me sits The Art of Eating. It's my third copy, the first fallen apart at the seams after much travel and life in some possibly strange places. . .the second given away as gift to a cook I once knew who could cook but who somehow could not taste, in some basic and important way within her mind.

"Five gastronomical works" in one volume. Serve It Forth; Consider the Oyster; How to Cook a Wolf; The Gastronomical Me; An Alphabet for Gourmets.

These individual works seem to hold different flavors for me, though each one is spun through with  MFK's essence.

Which book of these would be your favorite, if you *had* to choose?

Why?

How did I miss this thread until now?

To answer Carrot Top's original question, The Gastonomical Me is hands-down my favorite of the five. What keeps me re-reading this is less her tales about food--while great--than her vignettes about people. Her descriptions about the waitress who served her truite au bleu, her brother David's girlfriend who reminisced about the pleasures of watching wartime refugees being shot while trying to cross the border, the personal relationships of her fellow boarders in a Dijon rooming house...If you've read TGM, you have your favorites too. As MFK reflects at the end of the latter tale, she is writing about "the strange ways of satisfying hunger."

Others, such as How to Cook a Wolf, are fascinating but very much of their times (such as wartime rationing...). But it's amazing how well her writing can be both of a period and still resonate.



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Others, such as How to Cook a Wolf, are fascinating but very much of their times (such as wartime rationing...). But it's amazing how well her writing can be both of a period and still resonate.

That was a major reason I liked "Cook a Wolf".

I've never experienced rationing, or even shortages of essentials, but MFK Fisher's stories show how one can deal with such dire circumstances with a sense of adventure, and even humor.

Hopefully, none of us will ever have to recall her lessons under like conditions, but it's also a good attitude to apply in coping with many of life's lesser hardships.

Timelessness is a halmark of good writing. MFKF was a very good writer.

SB (figures wolf meat wouldn't be very good eating anyway :wink: )

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To answer Carrot Top's original question, The Gastonomical Me is hands-down my favorite of the five. What keeps me re-reading this is less her tales about food--while great--than her vignettes about people.  Her descriptions about the waitress who served her truite au bleu, her brother David's girlfriend who reminisced about the pleasures of watching wartime refugees being shot while trying to cross the border, the personal relationships of her fellow boarders in a Dijon rooming house...If you've read TGM, you have your favorites too. As MFK reflects at the end of the latter tale, she is writing about "the strange ways of satisfying hunger."

I'm reminded, in reading your thoughts and then remembering the stories, how very visual her writing was - and reminded as someone mentioned above, how she had been a screenwriter for some time. I can picture things she wrote with clear detail in my mind, years later, as if it *were* a film (and a good one, too :smile: ).

That was a major reason I liked "Cook a Wolf". 

I've never experienced rationing, or even shortages of essentials, but MFK Fisher's stories show how one can deal with such dire circumstances with a sense of adventure, and even humor. 

Hopefully, none of us will ever have to recall her lessons under like conditions, but it's also a good attitude to apply in coping with many of life's lesser hardships.

I liked "How to Cook a Wolf" very much at various times in my life. Once was when I was living on a boat, and once was when I was living in a small odd apartment in Paris.

I'm reading a book now that shows what some of the other writers of the time were doing in terms of offering wartime rationing/food advice, and naturally, much of what MFK tells us is the same as what they say. It is only the style of narrative that differs, really. And years later, we remember the poetry of "How to Cook a Wolf" where we do not remember the others' fine, but non-poetic factual advice.

Knowing this makes me happy. :smile:

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Who has read her bio by Joan Reardon-?


BeefCheeks is an author, editor, and food journalist.

"The food was terrible. And such small portions...."

--Alvy Singer

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Who has read her bio by Joan Reardon-?

I believe Ms Reardon's biography of MFK Fisher, Poet of the Appetites, has been alluded to in previous posts to this thread, although perhaps not mentioned directly?

I have read the book, and find it significant that the title uses the word "Appetites", plural. It's a good clue that this book covers significantly more ground than just MFKF's food writing.

SB (was a bit upset after reading the book, but got over it) :rolleyes:

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Who has read her bio by Joan Reardon-?

Why do you ask, Beef Cheeks? Have you read it, and do you have thoughts about it and whether it affected how you think of MKF and/or her writing?

It certainly is the elephant in the room, along with the bio her sister wrote, whenever MFK's writings are mentioned . . .

:sad: (Seems to me)

(But then, it's real, and what can one do.)


Edited by Carrot Top (log)

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I'm reminded, in reading your thoughts and then remembering the stories, how very visual her writing was - and reminded as someone mentioned above, how she had been a screenwriter for some time. I can picture things she wrote with clear detail in my mind, years later, as if it *were* a film (and a good one, too  :smile: ).[

How interesting, I didn't know this. Now that you point it out, I can see it and that explains a lot. Maybe I'd better read that bio folks are talking about.

I also enjoyed one of her later books, Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me, which was really a pastiche of diary entries that fleshed out some details of her personal life. Very little about food there, though.



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I also enjoyed one of her later books, Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me, which was really a pastiche of diary entries that fleshed out some details of her personal life.  Very little about food there, though.

I tried that one several times and couldn't get into it for some reason, but it may have been my mood.

Right in front of me now is a new collection "gathered and introduced" by Joan Reardon. "A Stew or a Story" - An Assortment of Short Works by MFK Fisher.

From a brief glance I think it looks very enticing, very satisfying.

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Right in front of me now is a new collection "gathered and introduced" by Joan Reardon. "A Stew or a Story" - An Assortment of Short Works by MFK Fisher.

From a brief glance I think it looks very enticing, very satisfying.

I'm inclined to buy this book, since Joan Reardon is probably the "reigning expert" on MFKF, but I'd be interested in knowing how much "new" material it contains. :huh:

SB (still :wub: MFKF, "warts" and all)

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I haven't seen any of these before.

Here's what it says in the preface:

"A Stew or a Story" collects more than fifty articles not republished in book form, gathers the gems not found in the dustbin, but in the magazines difficult to track down in periodical indexes, or in early "women's magazines".

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