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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition Paperback – March 5, 2004

4.9 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Amazon.com Review

A collection of essays by one of America's best known food writers, that are often more autobiographical or historical than anecdotal musings on food preparation and consumption. The book includes culinary advice to World War II housewives plagued by food shortages, portraits of family members and friends (with all their idiosyncrasies) and notes on her studies at the University of Dijon, in France. Through each story she weaves her love of food and passion for cooking, and illustrates that our three basic needs as human beings--love, food and security--are so intermingled that it is difficult to think of one without the others. The book won the 1989 James Beard Cookbook Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

This 50th anniversary paperback reprint contains what Julia Child referred to as "the essence of M.F.K. Fisher." Fisher (1908-1992) was one of this country's earliest food writers; her eloquent yet unostentatious prose has charmed generations. The 784-page collection brings together five works originally published under separate titles: "Serve it Forth," "Consider the Oyster," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets." There are also recipes scattered throughout. (Washington Post, April 28, 2004)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 50th Anniversary Edition edition (February 20, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764542613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764542619
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #81,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 27, 2002
Format: Paperback
For some inexplicable reason, the brilliant writing of M.F.K.Fisher was out of print, or hard to obtain for a while. Her prose is possibly some of the best writing from the 20th Century, so the difficulty in getting her books was rather puzzling. If you read anyone who writes about cuisine, they always refer to M.F.K. Fisher as some kind of luminary. In "The Art of Eating", there is every opportunity to examine why her writing is held in such high esteem.
This book is a compilation of her most famous works "Consider the Oyster," "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets." Each is quite different. "How to Cook a Wolf" is about cooking in times of want, in this case, World War II, but the book really becomes semi-autobiographical and talks about her young days in Dijon, where she was the wife of a student at the University.
If you haven't read M.F.K. Fisher, this is probably the best book to start with--it combines memoir with culinary musings; advice on scrambled eggs with her own ideas about health and nutrition. If you then can't get enough of Fisher, I recommend, "The Measure of Her Powers" which is much more autobiographical and utterly fascinating.
I actually read Fisher more for her memoirs. Her fascination with food and cooking is to me about life and art,--the French view of food not as something merely to fill the belly, but as an art form and a craft.
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Format: Paperback
Once upon a time I worked for a chef who absolutely adored MFK Fisher (this was one of her only redeeming qualities) and although I love food and wine, I had never heard of her before, but I love to read and I figured that I would pick up a few of her books and this one (actually a compilation of 5 of her books)is the first that I read, and it just changed my life, it is such a beautiful book that describes food and love and life so artfully you cannot help but feeling happy when you read it. She speaks a lot of France, and about her life experiences mingled with all sorts of facts and trivia and research about food. It is lovingly written. For those of you who love books about food and the art of food, this is for you. For those of you who think that you don't like books about food, this is also for you. Check it out.
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Format: Paperback
There are two types of cookbooks: those that you consult in order to learn how to prepare a specific dish (squid in its ink, for example) and those that you read when you are not in the kitchen and then allow to settle in your brain for a little while, and from which you decide, in time, to prepare something special. "The Joy of Cooking" is of the first type, the "Art of Eating" of the second kind.
There are two types of cookbook authors: those who did not follow a drive to become apothecaries and instead wound up in a kitchen. Now they issue a prescriptive formulary of carefully controlled measures, procedures, times, weights, and ingredients (no substitutions, please) in precise, neat, humorless texts: recipes by edict, if you will; and those who under other circumstances would have become poets or novelists, but instead wound up in the kitchen, from whence they issue lyrical prose as well as exquisite dishes. Their recipes are often vague, permissive, infuriating, but tolerant of errors. There are many who fit the first category and few (MFK Fisher among them) the second.
There are two ways of comparing cookbooks: by following recipes for highly complex dishes (beef Wellington, say) and tasting the results, or by following extremely simple recipes from each book and making gustatory comparisons (scrambled eggs, for instance). Scrambled eggs, according to general culinary wisdom, requires that eggs be beaten together "until the white and yolks are completely combined" (Joy of Cooking) or to be whisked briskly (Fanny Farmer).
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Format: Paperback
Looking for some food for thought? How about some thoughts on food? M.F.K. Fisher's compendium of essays in the "Art of Eating" is sure to keep you entertained for months, and provide you with party tidbits for even longer.

I read this book over the course of three months, an essay or two at a time. It's not just about food, but about the people who love to eat good food, to make it, to grow it, to harvest it, to travel in search of it. It's about some wonderful places in the world, some now long gone, or spoiled, and some still well worth a visit.

You'll find that you remember some of M.F.K. Fisher's stories long after you've put the book down. You'll tell these stories to others and win smiles and laughter. You'll haul the book out and read aloud from it. Your friends will ask to borrow your copy.

You will tell them to get their own.
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"The Art of Eating" is actually an omnibus edition of five works by MFK Fischer, originally published separately. These are "Consider the Oyster," "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me" and "An Alphabet for Gourmets." The book succeeds marvelously on different levels: first, Fischer was an exceedingly knowledgable and experienced cook and eater. As such, her essays are good reads just for the wealth of information they contain on all facets of cookery and dining. Second, and more importantly, she was a woman of enormous humanity; a quality that informs each of the works in this volume. Her ability to crystalize in words the underlying cultural and emotional associations of food, cooking and the dining experience is probably unmatched by any other food writer since. Again and again, she manages quite deftly to use simple anecdotes from her life to illustrate the deep attachments we all have with the food we eat and how we eat it. Her delivery of these insights is seldom heavy-handed; often, she manages to delight the reader by use of unexpected but well-grounded conclusions. One would need to explore the culinary writings of poets and novelists to find her equal on the subject.

There are drawbacks to the work, however. By gathering five different books into a single volume, a certain amount of repetition of some of her material becomes apparent. This is, of course, more the fault of the editor than of Fischer herself. No, Fischer's faults lie perhaps in a certain over-emphasis on the "sensitivity" of herself and her loved ones as contrasted with the rest of us Ya-hoos, and that she wrote before the emergence of American regional cuisine as a force in cookery, so that she sometimes denigrates things we feel more kindly toward today.

In all, though, The Art of Eating is a book that no serious cook or diner can afford to do without
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