I was first introduced to M. F. K. Fisher on a back deck in Brunswick Heads sometime during summer last year. It was late at night or perhaps early in the morning and my friend scurried off to find a copy in her room before excitedly reading me some passages. There was wine involved, probably cheese and potentially oysters enjoyed earlier.
I couldn’t believe I’d never come across this woman’s writing before. It was homely, yet sharp and tight. Cosy but undeniably whip smart. She described her experiences with food with perfect candor and just the slightest hint of romance and humour.
A few weeks later, I ordered a copy of The Art of Eating. When it arrived it appeared intimidatingly large and I tucked it in with all the other books about food I think I will actually read one day but never do.
Only a few days prior to the full blown COVID-19 panic, two friends, a fiance and a dog visited a wine shop together in Byron Bay. We bought three bottles of wine, one of which I accepted on recommendation:
How about this one, it’s really good?
Ok, I said and added it to the other two bottles.
We put our wine in a cute little 6 pack holder and carried on our way, touching each other and other things with spirited abandon for the next hour or so before parting ways.
How about an alcohol free day? Cal suggested.
(Scoffs) Ah, it’s research! I must match the wine to the book! Then I’ll write about it.
It was only after my first glass of wine and the 4th time my instagram feed declared you’re all caught up that I decided to pick up the book.
It contains five of M. F. K. Fisher’s works published in a 50th anniversary edition. These works are entitled: Serve it Forth, Consider the Oyster, How to Cook a Wolf, The Gastronomical Me and An Alphabet For Gourmets.
In these pages I’ve discovered a woman imbuing food writing with a whim and wit rarely witnessed in the gourmet food world and all well before the days of sexy food magazines and celebrity chefs.
In his introduction, Fadiman observes
Fischer writes not as a specialist but a whole human being, spiky with prejudices, charming, short-tempered, well-travelled and cosmopolitan, yet with her full share of intolerances. She is a person, not a gourmet masked as a writer. Her passion comes from inside her, and it is a passion, not an enthusiasm or a hobby.
In only the first few chapters I have become only more curious about Mrs. Fisher, enamored by her frankness and desperately wished she would share this delightful prosecco with me.
I decided not to read anything about this bottle of Col Tamarie before I drunk it. All I knew was that it was Italian and a type of prosecco. In the glass it was delicious and bready, the perfect match for Fisher’s measured yet generous prose.
I could regale you with detailed information on where and how this wine is made but this is the sort of wine that perhaps doesn’t require such fanfare. Suffice to say, it is produced in Veneto (prime prosecco-producing country) by Alberto & Marta who describe Col Tamarie as ‘mountain prosecco.’ Their property looks like something out of an Italian holiday brochure.
Meanwhile, on the couch in our Lismore house, I’d love to tell you I was swept away in a sparkling literary dream but the reality is, the wine ran out and Cal didn’t make lunch so I was kinda hungry by nightfall. We ventured downtown to purchase burgers and chicken wings from one of many establishments forced to run a take-way only operation.
At home, we watched a couple of episodes of Summer Heights High before drifting off to sleep, just a regular pair of suburban Australian heroes.
If you too would like to be a hero in these troubled times you may wish to consider:
Purchasing cheese from the high priestess of cheese herself, Louisa, via her beautifully crafted website at Bottle & Hoop.
Purchasing wine instore or via delivery from Luna Wine Store, from someone like Russ who was wearing socks and no shoes in store, which only raised my trust in his natural wine selection ten fold.
Purchasing burgers and/or chicken wings from the cool cats at Dirty Wilson who can lay claim to some of the finest filthy take-out in Lis-vegas.