Friday, June 21, 2013

MFK Fisher's How to Cook a Wolf



M.F.K. Fisher's writings loom large in the American literary landscape, and deservedly so. 

Of the books written by M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992) that I have so far read, my favorite is How to Cook a Wolf, which, I believe, illustrates well the qualities that make her writing enchanting. After spending three years in France with her husband Al, Mary Frances came back to the United States in 1932. Five years later, she published her first book, Serve it Forth. In 1941 came Consider the Oyster, followed, in 1942, by How to Cook a Wolf, described by James Beard as “her brilliant approach to wartime economies for the table.”

Wartime brings special challenges to anybody trying to eat “with both grace and gusto.” Fisher refuses to allow all pleasures to disappear from the wartime table and provides advice and recipes that creatively make the best of what can be obtained and prepared at a time of tight budget and scarcity. Food provides the springboard for reflections on topics ranging from the balanced diet to the choice of a drinking partner. 

Each chapter of How to Cook a Wolf presents Fisher’s thoughts on a topic: “How to Boil Water,” “How Not to Boil an Egg,” etc. The recipes (inserted in the text) are interesting, though the main pleasure of reading the book is to listen to Fisher philosophize, muse, get passionate, gently satirize (herself first), and tell stories, where she describes people and events of her life.

Nine years after the publication of How to Cook a Wolf, Ms. Fisher went back to the book and annotated it. Her notes, printed enclosed in square brackets in the North Point Press edition, sound like theatrical asides where the author reflects on her earlier ideas and assertions. Sometimes she stands by her words, sometimes she amends her original words, since she thinks she has learned a thing or two in the intervening time, and sometimes she declares that she has changed her mind.

I hope you'll enjoy Fisher's writing, wit, world view, and approach to cooking in challenging times.

The deadline for publishing your post inspired by How to Cook a Wolf is Monday, July 29th


When you publish your post (or posts), you can link it up by using the inlinkz tool below, or leave a comment to this post or email me at simosite AT mac DOT com. Feel free to use a comment or email message, should you have any questions.

Buon divertimento (have fun)!
Simona


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15 comments:

sandra sonoio said...

Somona, come mi dispiace fare tutta questa fatica con l'inglese!!!! per me è difficile, nonostante l'aiuto di google. ma qualcosa sono riuscita a "raccapezzare"
vediamo....
Sandra

Foodycat said...

I'm really enjoying my re-read! NO idea what I will cook yet though!

Tina said...

Excellent choice for this round of books.

Simona said...

Grazie, Sandra!

Glad you are enjoying the re-read, Alicia. When I first read the book, I made a version of the onion soup. Not sure what I will be inspired to make this time either.

Thank you, Tina. I am glad you like the current selection.

Tina said...

I just added my link, and hope I did so correctly. Great book, and we enjoyed some lovely baked apples as a result of my reading it!

Simona said...

Thank you, Tina!

Deb in Hawaii said...

An enjoyable read! It will come as no great shock that I was inspired by soup--in this case, the lovely and unique (to me at least) Gazpacho described in the book. ;-)

Simona said...

Thank you, Deb. I totally understand your choice. BTW, I owe to the book my first try at French onion soup.

Camilla Mann said...

Sorry to miss the fun this round, ladies! July was too crazy. But I'm all set for the coming months and looking forward to cooking alongside you all again in September.

Rachel said...

I cooked up my wolf! Great book pick, Simona!

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

Simona, I notice that the linky tool is closed...the due date isn't until tomorrow, though. Mine will be going up tomorrow morning. Should I just leave a link in the comments or email it to you, then?

Simona said...

Not a problem, Camilla. See you next round.

Thank you, Rachel!

Oops! Thanks Heather for letting me know about the closed linky tool. It was a mistake on my part and I fixed it. It should stay open until end of the day tomorrow. Let me know if it doesn't work. My post will be up tomorrow too.

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

thanks Simona!! =)

Debra Eliotseats said...

Great pick, Simone. Thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Simona said...

You are welcome, Heather. Not sure how I got mixed up with the date.

Thank you, Debra. I am glad you liked the selection.