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The Gastronomical Me Paperback – October 10, 1989
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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.
“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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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.