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Unusual writing for unusual times
on May 1, 2001
M.F.K. Fisher was a superb writer. And she lived in "interesting times" in Europe and California. How to Cook a Wolf pitted her inate love of food and cuisine against some severe times when money might be short or food was rationed. Her strange sense of humor and practical outlook are interesting; for example, she gives a recipe for a sludge to keep body (if not soul) alive. The instructions begin with borrowing 50 cents to buy the ingredients; hamburger, wilted vegetables. The resulting mush can be used as a nutritious dog food, or a staple to survive on. She even claims it can be quite acceptable fried as scrapple, but then you'd have to have some cooking fat (and even that could be hard to come by.)
In these times of plenty, it's hard to relate to this book except to read Fisher's ideas and fantastic prose; the section on "Sue" (really California artist and etcher Nel Coover) who survived and entertained her guests with wild ice plants, seaweed and stolen eggs and potatoes is captivating.
If you have never read any M.F.K. Fisher, start with "The Measure of My Powers", but if you have read her, and if you have developed a taste for her marvelous writing, this is one of her famous works that is unique and interesting.