For those of you not familiar with Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher she is the godmother of food writing. Her first foray into the world of food writing came with Serve it Forth in 1937 Her final book did not come until Home Cooking: An Excerpt from a Letter to Eleanor Friede, December, 1970 published a full 60+ years after her first and 8 after her death.
M.F.K. (as she is known) was born in Albion, Michigan on July 3, 1908. In 1929, while studying at the University of California, she met Alfred Young Fisher. Soon after their wedding they moved to France. While in Dijon, she became interested in food, wine, and cheese.
After moving to California in the early 1930’s M.F.K began delving into food writing. She soon wrote her and published her first book, Serve it Forth in 1937.
Her books do not focus solely on recipes and how-to’s. She most often expressed her belief that enjoying food and cooking is a basic joy of life. Even in wartime. According to the MFK Fisher Foundation, 1942's How to Cook a Wolf was “written to inspire courage in those daunted by wartimes shortages.” Her goal was not to remind women that times were tough, she “knew that the last thing hungry people needed were hints on cutting back and making do. Instead, she gives her readers license to dream, to experiment, to construct adventurous and delicious meals as a bulwark against a dreary, meager present.”
In the 1950’s Fisher moved to St. Helena about an hour’s north of San Francisco, where she spent the rest of her life, surrounded by wineries.
The other night I pulled my copy of With Bold Knife and Fork off the shelf. From 1969, it’s a collection of her pieces on food, love and life with 140 recipes interspersed. This is such a great book. With narrative that is calming and insightful, she talks about cooking for those you love and the enjoyment of food among many other things. She offers recipes for pumpkin gnocchi, shrimp jambalaya and 138 more. I was in simple mode that night and decided that steak and vegetables was in order. Besides… her recipe for A Sauce for Steak on pg 143 just seemed so… simple and so perfect.
And it was.
M.F.K Fisher’s A Sauce for Steak is:
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
2 or 3 drops Tabasco
Scant teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
Cream all together. Make 3 or 4 gashes in thick, rare steak, fill quickly with dressing, and serve at once.
That. Is. It.
It was creamy with a tinge of vinegary spice. The gashes allowed the sauce to seep into the steak and make it simply delicious.
you haven’t read her works yet, I highly suggest you start with, With
Bold Knife and Fork. She will comfort you like a kindly, wise