This little book is part of the penguin series: “Great Food”.
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher like Julia Child had a similar life changing experience when she spend a great deal of time in France in the late 1920s.
Perhaps unlike Child she is less known outside the U.S. although she made the first translation to English of The Physiology of Taste by Brillat-Savarin.
But her prolific career as a food writer inspired many people to approach the topics of food and travel with a fresh and candid view, which ironically was completely opposite to the state of the American economy after the Great Depression.
In a very Fitzgeraldesque fashion she doesn’t hold back any provocative adjective, every indulgent dish, exotic drink with such naturality and lightness that even the mention of a humble egg seems voluptuous and decadent.
I can understand the fascination that her writings provoked in the otherwise undermined American morale, she writes as she talks and she only talks about her sunny kissed care-free world, with champagne, Provençal landscapes, Mediterranean villas and endless soirées with gracious, beautiful people. It encapsulates the idealized world of “the 10%”.
But she’s not vulgar, pedantic or patronizing, she is indeed well read, traveled, sharp but classy, funny but smart, loud but delightful.
A young Mrs Dalloway who’s only fault is having been born privileged and can’t help herself but to enjoy it.
Here’s a good quote for you: “I myself would like to be able to eat that much of something I really delight in, and I can recognize overtones of envy in the way lesser mortals so easily damned Bradey as a glutton, even in these days of excess when he flourished”.
In just 11 short stories Fisher takes us with her to the market to buy peas and strawberries, she animatedly talks about the formidable strength of French ants and ends up reminding us that after a good glass of wine… one should have another.