I first connected with MFK Fisher over bread.
In her 1942 book, “How to Cook a Wolf,” she wrote so eloquently about the endorphin-inducing ceremony of making bread that it inspired me to write about my weirdly spiritual connection with the act of kneading dough — or slapping “it into shape as if it were a Bad Boy,” in the case of Fisher’s friend Addie, who has a quick bucket bread recipe in the book.
You’ll find no better portrait of Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher than Molly O’Neill’s 1992 obituary in the New York Times. “Her writing had the same ornery passion, the same impetuous urge to soothe her readers while shaking their souls,” O’Neill wrote of the 83-year-old author.
More from O’Neill, including a quote from “The Gastronomical Me,” the book we’re reading for the February book club meeting (details below):
Her subject matter, she said in an interview in 1990, “caused serious writers and critics to dismiss me for many, many years. It was woman’s stuff, a trifle.” But she was not deterred. In 1943 she wrote in her book “The Gastronomical Me”: “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 others do. They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.”
Molly O’Neill just so happens to be coming to Austin for the LongHouse Food Revival, her traveling feast/multimedia experience, on Feb. 1, just a few weeks before our book club meeting on February 12. (Let’s plan to meet at 7 p.m. that day to talk about Fisher’s book, and we’ll pick a place over on the Facebook group.)
(O’Neill, who is certainly one of the most well-respected food writers in the country, will also be teaching a writing workshop on Feb. 2 at the Evernote Austin offices off Loop 360.)
I’m looking forward to seeing some of you next month to talk about Fisher’s book, what insightful things her writing shakes up inside you and what makes her writing stand out in the now vast world of food writing.