With Bold Knife + Fork by M.F.K. Fisher.

with-bold-knife-forkI 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.

* Technically speaking, this is a lie.  Support your local independent bookseller!

BLTs, Boyfriends, Books, Brains.

Today I had lunch with my friend Lexi at DJ’s on the Garden, where I had a satisfying yet unremarkable BLT that cost me precisely five dollars.  I suppose this recession has been good one for one thing, that that is the recession menu.

After having a nice little chat about boyfriends, meeting the parents and dressing up during winter, my book and I got back on the subway and headed home.  I’m not that far into M.F.K. Fisher‘s With Bold Knife and Fork, but thus far I’m enjoying it immensely; that is not a surprise, as I have enjoyed her writing immensely for a while now, but what was surprising is that (coincidentally) I read the chapter on rice and grains as I stirred my first (successful) risotto the other evening, and that today, on the ride back to my apartment, I read Ms. Fisher’s thoughts on offal and brains, the day after Keith and I had the following conversation:

K: (apropos to nothing) If we go someplace that has brains on the menu, I want you to stay away from them.
N: I’m sorry — what?
K: I just think that out of the two of us, you’ll be tempted and I don’t want you eating them.  Mad cow is still an issue.  If you got it, it would be horrible.
N: Aw, you think it would be horrible if I died?
K: Well, yes — it would be horrible if you died.  But how you would die would be horrible too.
N: But I’ve had brains.
K: Well, no more brains for you.
N: But if I become a zombie, though, can I have some brains?
K: All you can eat.

On Deck.


One of my biggest fears is being stuck somewhere without anything to read, so I always keep a stack of books on hand.  When I get close to the end of whatever it is I’m thumbing through, I even slide an extra book in my bag alongside my lip balm and blotting papers.  Lately, though, I’ve been dumping my have-reads in with the will-reads and have been getting very confused indeed.  Still, it’s a rather impressive stack, no?  Here’s the list, with will-reads in bold.

In Case Anyone Was Wondering…

Here’s a small list of items I wouldn’t mind unwrapping on December 25, in alphabetical order.

  1. Best Food Writing 2008 edited by Holly Hughes
  2. Commercial-grade cookie sheets x 2
  3. Influence by Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen
  4. iPod nano, in either orange or purple
  5. Mad Men, seasons one and two
  6. On the Line by Eric Ripert and Christine Muhlke
  7. Salt and pepper piglets from Nigella Lawson
  8. Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky
  9. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh
  10. With Bold Knife and Fork by M. F. K. Fisher

I also wouldn’t say no to a pair of puppies, a bunny or purple slipper socks.