The gastronomical she

March 05, 1991|By New York Times

CALLING M.F.K. Fisher, who has just been elected to the American Academy and National Institute of Arts and Letters, a food writer is a lot like calling Mozart a tunesmith. At the same time that she is celebrating, say, oysters (which lead, she says, "a dreadful but exciting life") or the scent of orange segments drying on a radiator, she is also celebrating life and loneliness, sense and sensibility.

Sometimes, she says in "The Gastronomical Me," people have questioned her choice of subjects. Why, they want to know, aren't you writing about the big stuff -- like 'the struggle for power and security'?

"The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others.

"So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it. And then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied and it is all one."

Celebrant of "pickled peaches like translucent stained glass" and "souffles that sighed voluptuously at the first prick," Fisher is like no other writer in the august group of which she's now a member. But, then, M.F.K. Fisher is like no other writer anywhere.

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