Essays By M.F.K. Fisher

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Old or moderately young, of any sex, most of us can forgo the analyst’s couch at will and call up some such flavors. Kept verbal, there is small danger of indigestion, and, in truth, a gooseberry pie can be a horror (those pale beady acid fruits, the sugar never masking their mean acidity, the crust sogging . And a glass of at the wrong time and with the wrong people can turn into a first-class emetic, no matter how it used to make the mind and body rejoice in Provence.

They were uneven in both thickness and color, probably made by a new apprentice in the hotel kitchen, and almost surely they smelled faintly of either chicken or fish, for that was always the case there. That is probably why I can be so firm about not eating my way through barrels, tunnels, mountains more of them here in the land where they hang like square cellophane fruit on wire trees in all the grocery stores, to tempt me sharply every time I pass them. I know I cannot possibly, eat enough of it to satisfy my hunger, my unreasonable lust, so I think back with what is almost placidity upon the times I could dig into a tub of it and take five minutes or so for every small voluptuous mouthful. Being carnal, such dreams are perforce sinful in some vocabularies.

They were a little too salty, to encourage me to drink. Other ways of thinking might call them merely foolish, or Freudian “substitutes.” That is all right; I know that I can cultivate restraint, or accept it patiently when it is thrust upon me—just as I know that I can walk right down Main Street this minute and buy almost as many Macadamia nuts as I would like to eat, and certainly enough to make me feel very sick for a time, but that I shan’t do so.

My mother ate fresh foie gras, sternly forbidden to her liver, but she loved the cathedral at Strasbourg enough to risk almost any kind of attack, and this truffled slab was so plainly the best of her lifetime that we all agreed it could do her nothing but good, which it did.

My father and I ate caviar, probably Sevruga, with green-black smallish beads and a superb challenge of flavor for the iced grassy vodka we used to cleanse our happy palates.


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