I took a shameful amount of time getting around to reading M.F.K. Fisher‘s works, but once I did I realized I had encountered an authoritative force in food and in writing. Seriously. I’m not just throwing words around here. This woman can write.
If you’ve not read anything by Ms. Fisher, With Bold Knife and Fork is an utterly perfect place to start. Run to the bookstore, click over to Amazon, get thee to a library — I don’t care which method you prefer* as long as readership of this book increases by a significant amount.
Part cookbook and part memoir, With Bold Knife and Fork is almost novelesque in its structure, starting with Ms. Fisher’s research of turn-of-the-century recipes and their communal lack of specificity, advancing on to her own youth under her puritanical grandmother’s roof and continuing with her daughters’ culinary endeavors. Interspersed throughout the anecdotes and observations are recipes relating to the topic at hand; some are Ms. Fisher’s, and others are credited to friends, family and her mother’s cook.
While I have an almost unnatural fondness for Ms. Fisher (it feels strange, calling her Ms. Fisher, but what am I supposed to do, refer to her as M.F.K.?) I can’t deny that she and her writing keep on popping up during coincidentally convenient times. Take the first time I read one of her books: I meant to pick up a copy of Gastronomical Me, as per my friend Beth‘s advice, and the next day my friend Marcella gave me the book as a present. Then there were those days a few weeks ago when Ms. Fisher seemed to be talking right to me, from the Great Beyond, as I made risotto and contemplated consuming brains.
Then there’s this, a quote from With Bold Knife and Fork which sums up precisely how I feel about inventing my own recipes, something I do with great infrequency:
Perhaps I should feel more actively ashamed, that I am so torpid. Why do I sit back and let other people sweat to do all my figuring and inventing? I am a clod.
Honestly, this is a woman after my own heart. With grace and wit and candor, she just gets me. And I love that.