The art of food and the taste of living by a woman

The art of food and the taste of living by a woman

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Chefs, Profiles

Frances Kennedy Fisher, the culinary maven

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was an American food writer and founder of the Napa Valley Wine Library. She grew up in the sunny west coast state of California and developed a knack for food writing and the culinary universe when she packed her bags and headed for France.

Fisher believed that eating well was one of the ‘arts of ife’ and explored this sentiment in 27 books she wrote over the course of her life. As she explains on the first page of The Gastronomical Me, “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.”

Fisher even went so far as to translate The Physiology of Taste by the culinary hedonist Brillat-Savarin. She sums up her penchant for writing about anything and everything food as such: ”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 the others do?”… The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry.”

Indeed, the hunger card is a strong one. Fisher was a regular contributor to the New Yorker, Gourmet and Vogue and has inspired many modern chefs and food writers like Yotam Ottolenghi, Ruth Reichl and Bee Wilson.


Some of the titles she coined over her lifetime include

Consider the Oyster
A series of essays on the history and lore of the androgynous oyster, including recipes. If you love oysters, this one’s for you.

With Bold Knife and Fork
Nearly all the material in this book originally appeared in The New Yorker in somewhat different form and focuses on recipes collected from various sources and food remembrances. This book is the closest that Fisher ever got to publishing a traditional cookbook.

The Cooking of Provincial France
A commissioned work on the various provinces of France and their specialties as well as a look at how a contemporary French family balances city with country life. Written in concert with Michael Field and Julia Child.

How to Cook a Wolf
A series of essays on how to live and dine sanely and pleasurably during wartime and within tight budgets.

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