Essays By M.F.K. Fisher

Essays By M.F.K. Fisher-89
If you loved Gaby Deslys or Fanny Brice, from no matter how far afar, you still can and do. There is, in this happily insatiable fantasizing, no saturation point, no moment at which the body must cry Of course, the average person has not actually possessed a famous beauty, and it is there that gastronomy serves as a kind of surrogate, to ease our longings.One does not need to be a king or mogul to indulge most, if not all, of his senses with the heady enjoyment of a dish—speaking in culinary terms, that is.I cannot remember when I first ate a Macadamia, but I was hooked from that moment. The Prince of Wales was said to have invested in a ranch in Hawaii which raised them in small quantities, so that the name stuck in my mind because and almost embarrassed myself by letting a small moan escape me when she put a bowl of them beside my chair; they were beautiful—so lumpy, Macadamian, salty, golden! I was perhaps twenty-three when I first ate almost enough caviar—not to mention any caviar at all that I can now remember.

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As for potato chips, I do not remember them earlier than my twenty-first year, when I once ate stupidly and well of them in a small, stylish restaurant in Germany, where we had to wait downstairs in the tavern while our meal was being readied to eat upstairs.

Beside me on a table was a bowl of exquisitely fresh and delicate chips, and when we finally sat down I could not face the heavily excellent dinner we had ordered.

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.

Most people like to talk, once steered onto the right track, about their lifetime favorites in food.

It does not matter if they have only dreamed of them for the past countless decades: favorites remain, and mankind is basically a faithful bunch of a mistaken idea, ancient but still with us, that an overdose of anything from fornication to hot chocolate will teach restraint by the very results of its abuse.A righteous and worried father, feeling broadminded and full of manly understanding, will urge a rich cigar upon his fledgling and almost force him to be sick, to show him how to smoke properly.It was reward enough to sit in the almost empty room, chaste rococo in the slanting June sunlight, with the generous tub of pure delight between us, Mother purring there, the vodka seeping slyly through our veins, and real wood strawberries to come, to make us feel like children again and not near-gods.That was a fine introduction to what I hope is a reasonably long life of such occasional bliss.For them real satiety, the inner spiritual kind, is impossible.They are, although in a noble way, cheating: an satyr will risk death from exhaustion, still happily aware that there will always be more women in the world than he can possibly accommodate.It is said that a few connoisseurs, such as old George the bouquet of certain great vintages a half century after tasting them.I am a mouse among elephants now, but I can say just as surely that this minute, in a northern California valley, I can taste-smell-hear-see and then feel between my teeth the potato chips I ate slowly one November afternoon in 1936, in the bar of the Lausanne Palace.This realization is cruelly matter-of-fact to anyone of romantic sensitivity, and I feel vaguely apologetic about it. I know that even though I eat potato chips perhaps once every three years, I can, whenever I wish to, tap an almost unlimited fountain of them not five hundred feet from my own door.It is not quite the same thing with caviar, of course, and I have smiled upon a one-pound tin of it, fresh and pearly gray, not more than eight or nine times in my life.


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