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The Gastronomical Me Paperback – October 10, 1989
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“I do not know of any one in the United States who writes better prose.” ―W.H. Auden
“Poet of the appetites.” ―John Updike
“Because The Gastronomical Me is autobiographical, following Mrs. Fisher from childhood to widowhood in different countries, we are able to see its food not only as a matter of personal taste, but as a perpetual emotional and social force within a life. Here are meals as seductions, educations, diplomacies, communions. Unique among the classics of gastronomic writing, with its glamorous but not glamorized settings, its wartime drama and its powerful love story, The Gastronomical Me is a book about adult loss, survival, and love.” ―Patricia Storace, The New York Review of Books
“She writes about fleeting tastes and feasts vividly, excitingly, sensuously, exquisitely. There is almost a wicked thrill in following her uninhibited track through the glories of the good life.” ―James Beard
“She writes about food as others do about love, but rather better.” ―Clifton Fadiman
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Mary Frances had the perfect recipe for blending food writing and autobiography. Inimitable, and such a product of her era. Of all her books, this is the one most suitable for non-foodies. The Sensual Me might have been a better title. Food and drink (LOTS of drink) do get a lot of coverage, but that's only a slice of the book, not the whole pie. Along with the gastronomical, she offers up impressions visual, tactical, aural, and visceral.
The chapters are loosely connected snapshots of her life, roughly chronological but with large blocks of time unaccounted for.
She begins in 1912 at age four, with her first memory of an irresistible taste -- the foam on top of a kettle of strawberry jam. On through boarding school and her first live oyster, followed by a college gluttony phase, and then Dijon, France as a newlywed. Those early years in France brought the discovery that food was something to be relished and treated with reverence, and it set the course for her life as a gourmand and food writer. [A big chunk of this part of the book was lifted wholesale and plopped into a much later memoir, Long Ago in France, which I read a few months ago. Skip that one. This one's better.]
After they leave Dijon things get a little hazy, and I suspect some deliberate vagueness. Mary Frances started a new relationship while in the process of divorcing her husband. She never explains exactly how things developed between herself and Chexbres, the new man. They seem to have led a near-idyllic life in Switzerland until the coming war forced them to flee in the 1930s.Read more ›
Fisher was an American, and her adult life in France began in 1929 when she and her new husband moved to Dijon. One quickly appreciates how difficult her experiences as a newcomer must have been -- no stove, no refrigerator, no heating in winter. Some reviewers didn't like the way the book left gaps in her personal life story. That's true, but it isnt a standard biography, it's a literary sketch book.
If you're looking for a travel book, this isn't one. Stylistically, because this book was written 65 or 70 years ago, there is no comparison between it and much later accounts of spending a year in Provence, touring the wine country, or houseboating on the Seine.
Finally, one reviewer here thought the last part of the book about her time in Mexico seemed out of place. I agree, so if you get the book and read everything but the bit about the Mexican soujourn, you will have gotten to the heart of what I think she wanted us to know, anyway.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
What a great memoir! Yes, parts were uneven, but all in all, I enjoyed this book very much. The food descriptions were fantastic.Published 6 days ago by N.T.
Although I had many things to do , I began to read Fisher's book immediately. It arrived quicker than I expected.Published 8 months ago by Merle Sturm
A snobby, mediocre book by an over rated author of little importance. Skip it.Published 13 months ago by A. E. Flynn
What initially directed me to this author was an article in Saveur magazine. An interesting book if you are a foodie learning about the food & wine likes & dislikes of pre-war II... Read morePublished 13 months ago by William F. Ketcham
Another time and a different life but I thoroughly enjoyed the quiet charm of this little book.Published 17 months ago by Cielo Girl