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An Alphabet for Gourmets Paperback – October 10, 1989
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“Since Mrs. Fisher wrote [An Alphabet for Gourmets], naturally it is witty, pungent and highly civilized, but also it has a special charm...It not only guides and titillates; it warms.” ―Rex Stout, The New York Times Book Review
“Full of sound counsel, shrewd observation, luscious memories of dinners eaten and wines drunk, and a lot of common sense spiced with personal recollection. It's a good mixture.” ―J.H. Jackson, San Francisco Chronicle
“Entertaining and knowledgeable.” ―The New Yorker
About the Author
M.F.K. Fisher is the author of numerous books of essays and reminiscences, many of which have become American classics.
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This volume is a collection of musings, remembrances and opinions organized under the alphabet. There's no real theme to the book, other than that each chapter contains one or more recipes, and each represents a strongly held opinion of Fishers, and she had a great many strongly held opinions. The first chapter is A, for dining Alone, a topic she often addressed. She finishes the chapter with recipes for Ambrosia, made with oranges, coconut and sherry, a discussion of how crepes should be served, and a condemnation of Jello salads- three unrelated topics, really, except they all touch on something she mentions in her defense of solo dining.
L is for Literature, and is obviously concerned with food references in books. Here she closes the chapter with recipes for a medieval "Herring Pye" that no one would bother to try and duplicate and a description of Garum, the classic condiment of ancient Rome, which finds its closes modern equivalent in Thai fish sauce. Why? Because Fisher thinks it interesting, and that's good enough for this reader. P is for peas, especially small, delicate, early ENglish peas, and T is for Turbot, and both chapters finish with recipes that any reader will want to try. V is for Veniality, but Fisher still manages to work in a recipe for Raspberries Romanoff. W is for Wanton, and contains Fisher's proposals for seducing a man with food... and if necessary, un-seducing.
This is, like all of Fisher's books, a delight to read whether or not you have any intention of cooking the recipes she presents, and indeed, in this book the recipes are not the point. All of FIsher's books are favorites of mine, and this one is a particular treasure. Recommended for fans of good food, independent women, free thinking, and good writing.