We are getting so excited and inspired (and hungry) watching your submissions roll in for our upcoming Food issue! In the spirit of the food theme, we put together this collection of Roomies’ favourite cookbooks for writers. These books all feature recipes, but also include fiction, memoir, and other literary elements.
Consider Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, a writer who wrote beautiful, fierce, and very personal essays about food, and whose The Art of Eating, a compendium of five of her books, may be all you ever need to read about love.
Fisher (1908 - 1992) was a scholar, translator (she translated Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste), a screenwriter, a novelist, and travel writer who wrote fifteen books, as well as hundreds of essays for The New Yorker.
W.H. Auden famously called her America’s greatest writer, and you won’t get much argument from me. From Consider the Oyster, “Love and Death Among the Molluscs,” remains my single, favourite piece of food writing. From the deliciously offhand first line, “An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life,” to the heartbreaking fact it was written to distract her second husband from the pain of a debilitating disease, the essays provide joy and comfort in equal measure.
Part cookbook and part memoir, The Art of Eating is Fisher’s 750-page magnum opus. Her subjects range from the secret pleasure of eating tangerines toasted on a radiator in a cramped Strasbourg apartment to the unexpected enjoyment of dining alone, but always circle back to the complexities of food and hunger. When asked why a writer of her talent wrote about food instead of “important” subjects, she was unapologetic: “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.”