Cooks' Books

The Art of Eating

50th Anniversary Edition

By M.F.K. Fisher (Wiley, $21.95 paper) When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it, and it is all one.—M.F.K. Fisher In the age when Betty Crocker and Fannie Farmer were touchstones, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher wrote of the magic of food and conjuring it, transporting readers with her prose and seducing them into the kitchen and dining room. Fisher told of living in France and climbing gastronomical heights; her favorite aunt's fried-egg sandwich made of "ingredients (physical)" and "ingredients (spiritual)"; and surviving in a one-room apartment, which often meant making dinner on a hot plate, or just making do. Five books are collected here. How to Cook a Wolf tackles rationing during World War II, yet the philosophy could be applied today. The Gastronomical Me is autobiographical; Serve It Forth covers a mélange of history and learning; and Consider the Oyster does just that. The final book, An Alphabet for Gourmets, stretches from "B is for Bachelors," with kitchens rife with seduction, through "P is for Peas," the glorious and green, to "X is for Xanthippe," proof that the ill-tempered and the dinner table mix no better than oil and water. This hefty, 744-page tome is perfect for random roaming. But this omnibus is also to be savored, for to read M.F.K. Fisher is to fall in love and know the hunger for its sweet warmth. Joanne Garrett

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