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The Gastronomical Me Paperback – October 10, 1989


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: North Point Press; Edition Unstated edition (October 10, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0865473927
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865473928
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

M. F. K. Fisher sees life stomach first. The New York Times said "She spit Puritan restraint out like a dull wine and made a life of savoring the slow, sensual pleasures of the table." And between meals, she savored the pleasures of men and travel, too. She recalls California in 1912, life in France in the 1930s, and traveling solo to Mexico in 1941. Her first oyster is a beautiful story, about adolescence and the glory of the briny mollusk, and her humor is as forthright as her taste at table.

Review

"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

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Customer Reviews

I love, adore MFK Fisher!
Zoe
This book is badly written, uninteresting and has no structure.
Wendy E
This is a great read for food lovers and francophiles.
northkona

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By "annclpoet" on March 8, 2000
Format: Paperback
Do the former critics not read Tolstoy because he was a Count? I was born into a working class neighborhood in New York, and this is one of my favorite books. Being a gourmand is an enlightened point of view, a matter of personal taste. In my opinion this is Ms. Fisher's very best book. The writing, and the personality, are exquisite. Especially in the chapter about her Father and a childhood journey, and the discovery of her crush on a fellow boarding school student (female) and her love of oysters, at the same time! Am I the only one who feels that I've shared all of those wonderful meals with her when I put down this book? Great to pack along when you are traveling, even if you've read it before!
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Fisher recounts her life through her intimate association with food, growing up, travelling alone to meet her formidable uncle (knowing when to order consomé,) eating blue point oysters at a sorority banquet, falling in love with her first husband, living with him in 1930s Dijon at a boarding house where the landlady made ananas au kirsch, divorcing him, nursing another sick husband, being wooed while still married, travelling on cruise liners, watching the rise of the Nazis in Europe, and finally travelling to Mexico in her widowhood. Fisher reveals food as a civilizing force, revelling in its sensual pleasure while remaining starkly aware of a world going wrong. She writes real characters; it's journalism in a short story style, using that technique of fiction. With remarkably serene prose, delicate and sensuous, Fisher shows herself to be a singular woman who understands all too well the foibles of humanity and gracefully counteracts them with an almost pious devotion to the riches and possibilities of elegant cuisine.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By jumpy1 on September 29, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First I should admit I'm not a usual fan of MFK Fisher. I find her rambling and neurotic style a bit unsettling. Even in this book, one minute she's a snob and the next minute ... well I don't want to give it away. Nonethless, I loved it through and through. Much less neurotic or rambling than her other stuff. Marvelous stories. Wonderful points of view coming through. I really loved the story about that cook in her childhood who ... okay, I won't tell. If you like autobiography, this is a good one.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 24, 1998
Format: Paperback
M.F.K. Fisher writes with elegant economy about food, and her style, which tends toward the vignette, is savory and inspriring as her subject. Set in short chapters and taking place mostly in France, her tales in The Gastronomical Me use the occasion of mealtime to explore what food serves, which is to say life or, rather, friendship, love, community, and the moments that define and nourish each. The Gastronomical Me concludes with a particularly striking and poignant moment from one of Fisher's trips to Mexico, in which a meal figures prominently in a touching romance that fails. Read this memoir because it is delectable, a bittersweet reminder that we all have gastronomical adventures and that however delicious the food, it is the company we share it with and the emotion it evokes that most powerfully endures.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
"The baker had a fight with the chef soon after we left port, and the barber took over all the pastry making..."

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By northkona on January 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a great read for food lovers and francophiles. It isnt really a travel book at all, but Fisher's highly personal and frequently witty account of the experiences that shaped her thinking and made her one of the most noted food writers of the 20th century.

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.
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