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M.F.K. Fisher's "How to Cook a Wolf"
October 15, 2011 9:41 PM   Subscribe

[M.F.K. Fisher's] "How to Cook a Wolf" reads like an issue of Lady's Home Journal, if the editorial staff were taken over by a philosopher with an empty stomach, a slightly tipsy poet and your mischievous, foxy grandmother who once kept many lovers. (related)

Fisher matters for her prose, rather than her recipes. But bloggers have cooked her zucchini frittata, sweet potato pudding, and even the notorious Sludge.
posted by Trurl (19 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

 
I always was curious about the sludge. Thanks, Trurl.
posted by Diablevert at 10:01 PM on October 15, 2011


Her collected writings were mentioned in a previous food thread on the Blue; that caused me to pick up a copy and read it about a year ago which, despite the dearth of actual recipes, got me excited about cooking all over again.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:17 PM on October 15, 2011


"Perhaps this war will make it simpler for us to go back to some of the old ways we knew before we came over to this land and made the Big Money. Perhaps, even, we will remember how to make good bread again ... For probably there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music throbbing chapel, that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread."
written by Fisher in 1942 !

Talk about a woman ahead of her time -- wow.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:18 PM on October 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I am reminded that Poorcraft should be coming out soon.

Also, this is some of most engrossing, evocative, funny food writing ever.
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 PM on October 15, 2011


You really can't buy better historical detail and sentiment and view.
posted by The Whelk at 10:27 PM on October 15, 2011


Also Sludge is a form of Porridge, right? That was the staple of European peasants for centuries.
posted by The Whelk at 10:29 PM on October 15, 2011


Apparently the title of DFW's Consider The Lobster collection of essays is a play of words on the title of what is called a classic book by Fisher Consider The Oyster.
posted by dancestoblue at 10:30 PM on October 15, 2011


It's rare that I sit up at night, agreeing with a book and nodding my head about bread making.
posted by The Whelk at 11:08 PM on October 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


MFK Fisher is one of those writers, i am convinced, if she wasnt lumped into a genre, and by her gender besides, would be considered one of the greatest prose stylists of the 20th century...i mean she is, but she should be more than just a great food writer.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:20 PM on October 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


This sounds lovely, thanks Trurl.
posted by tumid dahlia at 2:21 AM on October 16, 2011


Sort of silly to have the book not be available in it's entirety. Very good prose, I like the way people wrote back then.
posted by Peztopiary at 4:15 AM on October 16, 2011


MFK Fisher is one of those writers, i am convinced, if she wasnt lumped into a genre, and by her gender besides, would be considered one of the greatest prose stylists of the 20th century...i mean she is, but she should be more than just a great food writer.

I agree. And the same could be said about John Thorne.

Jim Harrison did it the other way around, kinda.

And let's not forget Patience Gray.
posted by valkane at 4:42 AM on October 16, 2011


I'm always happy to be reminded of Fisher when someone posts something about her, and inevitably it prompts me to go pick up my copy of The Art of Eating, and start flipping through it.

While people often use this quote from The Gastronomical Me when discussing Fisher, I thought it was worth repeating here since I don't think anyone has yet:

People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don’t you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?

They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.

The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it…and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied…and it is all one.


That always gives me chills. The Weekend America quote that Trurl lead with was also great. Foxy grandmother indeed.
posted by 6and12 at 5:08 AM on October 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


I first heard about this book in the Feb/March 2009 issue of Readymade magazine, which had an article on her and featured her recipe for Eggs in Hell. It is an incredibly simple, delicious, and inexpensive vegetarian recipe, one I will never forget.

Makes me very sad to know that magazine closed down this summer. It was my favourite magazine since its inception in 2001.
posted by lizbunny at 8:46 AM on October 16, 2011


Though I agree that Fisher's prose is art in itself and that her writing is as much memoir and personal/social history as it is cookery, anyone who can earnestly say

Fisher matters for her prose, rather than her recipes.

has never tried her recipe for gingerbread.
posted by Elsa at 2:30 PM on October 16, 2011


has anyone mentioned that article in gastronomica from a while back, "what mfk fisher taught me after 9/11"? because it was pretty good.

i have this burned in sense memory of nigella lawson reading that infamous "when i write about hunger i write about love, etc." excerpt on a pbs special on food culture from a few years back too.

love that someone mentioned jim harrison. really good food writing can come from unexpected places (though for my money nobody was more comfy, funny, and real/genuine in a way i could relate to about food while still honoring the principles i hold dearly that some still consider food snobbery--freshness, getting down n' dirty with your hands and senses, recognizing your materials, being intimate, etc.--than laurie colwin, whose "nantucket cranberry pie cobbler" is a holiday staple in my home). aj liebling and alice toklas were masters at this craft too.
posted by ifjuly at 4:52 PM on October 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you like Fisher, try John Thorne's books (written in collaboration with his lady companion Matt). Also, his clunky web site: www.outlawcook.com
posted by wenestvedt at 7:23 AM on October 17, 2011


Thank you so much for quenching my curiosity about Sludge ... I've often thought it was a dish with great potential in difficult times. I've made her War Cake many times; I love it and so do the people I've shared it with. Her potato soup is a winner as well.

I adore Fisher, and count on her books as a comfort always. When I was forced to pare my library down to the very bare essentials, How to Eat was the first book put in the keep pile.
posted by Allee Katze at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2011


I had to show this thread to my mother last night; she recently found a copy of How to Cook a Wolf and gave it to a friend of hers; now I wish I had read it before she gave it away. We were both inspired to learn more about M K F Fisher, so this was definitely a good post!
posted by TedW at 2:00 PM on October 17, 2011


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