Monday, June 23, 2014

How to Cook a Wolf: MFK Fisher

I am reading a book called The Art of Eating, which is a compilation of several publications by MFK Fisher. I recently finished the part called How to Cook a Wolf and thought I would review it here.  This is a cookbook written at the time of rationing during World War II and although there are recipes in it, the main purpose of this book is to encourage people to live with dignity in whatever circumstances come. I really enjoyed it and found insight into homes and families in times of stress.

Between the pages are the effects of this war common to man: fuel shortages, blackouts and rationing, how to deal with a lack of personal hygiene products and pet food. But the ringing message of the book is that you cannot live constantly in a state of emergency in your mind. You must declare your mental independence and maintain whatever normal pursuits you can. This resonated with me because of our own  struggles during the recession. I came to similar conclusions working to keep my own table interesting and feeding our spirits as well as our stomachs.  I love this passage about cheese, which was almost impossible to obtain, so to be used with wisdom:

"Try it on a tired factory worker some day, or a nervous neighbor, with a glass of milk if possible or a cup of tea, and watch the unfolding of a lot of spiritual tendrils that were drawn up into a tight heedless tangle... I have seen it work miracles of restoration." (p. 341 italics added)

There is such power in food to comfort the wounded heart and mind. It encourages our bodies in the daily work they must do. Fuel, yes, but with thought and care it becomes more. It sustains physical and spiritual life. She writes at the end of the book:

"I cannot count the good people I know who, to my mind, would be even better if they bent their spirits to the study of their own hungers."(p.350)

"I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy and ever-increasing enjoyment.  And with our gastronomical growth will come, inevitably, knowledge and perception of a hundred other things, but mainly of ourselves.  Then Fate, even tangled as it is with cold wars as well as hot, cannot harm us." (p.350)

I am grateful for this book.  It has been affirming of my own path through troubles.  To her hearty voice and keep-up-the-good-work attitude, I say Amen.

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

What this is:

A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!