Art of Eating


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FISHER, M. F. K. The Art of Eating. Cleveland and New York: World Publishing Company, (1954). Thick octavo, original half tan cloth, uncut, original dust jacket.

First collected edition of M.F.K. Fisher’s gastronomical works, including How to Cook a Wolf and An Alphabet for Gourmets, inscribed to Avis DeVoto, close friend of both Fisher and Julia Child, "To Avis DeVoto, with admiration and thanks—Mary Francis MFK Fisher Cambridge 3.VIII.66."

"In these strange volumes, sometimes funny, sometimes sorrowful, always full of the rich juices of keenly felt life, the kitchen, the dining room, the restaurant, the café, the transatlantic steamer, and the bedroom mingle in a flavorous hochepot of memories" (Clifton Fadiman, Introduction). Serve it Forth, Fisher's first book, included here, was published in 1937. How to Cook a Wolf, published in 1942, offers the art of cooking while the country wages a world war, and is renowned for its pithiness as well as its recipes. Also included are three other Fisher classics: Consider the Oyster (1941), The Gastronomical Me (1943), and An Alphabet for Gourmets (1939). The inscribee of this copy, Avis MacVicar DeVoto, a friend of Fisher's, was a prominent cookbook editor at Knopf, a longtime resident of Cambridge, and one of Julia Child's closest friends. DeVoto resided in Cambridge for much of her life with her husband, Bernard DeVoto, who taught in the English department at Harvard. During the 1950s, Avis and Bernard DeVoto were known for hosting a cocktail party every Sunday evening known as "the hour." Tongues loosened by Bernard DeVoto's famed martinis, attending couples would discuss their scholarly achievements, as well as current events, history, and philosophical issues. Avis DeVoto, as an educated career woman, was a central participant in the discussions of "the hour." However, Avis DeVoto is probably best known for her friendship with Julia Child. Their correspondence began over the matter of inferior American paring knives (Bernard had written a column on them, which eventually resulted in Julia sending a French knife to Avis). The two women went on to exchange hundreds of letters, later meeting in Cambridge and cementing a lifelong friendship. Their correspondence covered subjects ranging from cooking to international affairs to life in Cambridge to travel and continues to offer what is perhaps the most complete portrait of Julia Child's life. In fact, it was DeVoto who painstaking edited Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Book fine, a bit of chipping and wear to dust jacket spine ends. A near-fine copy.

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