I remember when I first read writing by M.F.K. Fisher: it was two years ago, and my friend Beth had suggested I read The Gastronomical Me. At the time, I was feeling very frazzled and frugal — Keith and I were getting ready to buy our first place, and I felt as though I couldn’t spend any money recklessly, not that I consider book-buying reckless spending. Later in the year, I received a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble for my birthday; when I tried to purchase it, the book was out of stock. I truly felt as though I was fated to never read Fisher at all.
But then… my friend Marcella came to visit. Neither Beth nor I had spoken with her about my M.F.K. Fisher woes, and yet what else did Marcella bring me as a gift but The Gastronomical Me. If that’s not proof of something, I don’t know what is.
Anyway, I thought The Gastronomical Me was wonderful, so much so that I soon found myself at the bookstore again, this time stacking around myself all of Fisher’s books like a little kid building a fort. I soon realized that it would be truly impossible for me to purchase them all, since there were almost thirty different titles heaped at my feet. That day, I left the shop with only a few items in my bag and a much longer shopping list than when I entered. Imagine, then, how pleased I was last month to find a three-dollar copy of Fisher’s As They Were while wandering the aisles of Powell’s Books for Home and Garden, the Hawthorne District‘s branch of Powell’s Books that features literature focusing on cooking, gardening and crafts.
If you’re a lover of food and travel and you’ve not read M.F.K. Fisher, I urge you to start now. As They Were, as the title implies, is a collection of Fisher’s memories, her recollections of her past — where she lived, whom with and what she ate. I’m a sucker sometimes for nostalgia, and Fisher’s tone throughout the book overflows with it, with a powerful longing for days gone by. Regardless of whether Fisher’s writing is about her funny little kitchen in Provence, traveling by sea or fine dining experiences with children, captured on each page is a fondness and exuberance for life that is simply — well, simply enviable.