Book Review: M.F.K. Fisher, Musings on Wine and Other Libations
For those not in the know, M.F.K. Fisher is sort of like what Julia Child might have been had she decided to eat out for every meal. A prolific writer who produced dozens of books and countless magazine articles about food from the 1930s to the 1980s, Fisher loved to eat and drink, but more importantly she seems to have loved to talk about eating and drinking.
With this collection, editor Anne Zimmerman collects 30 of Fisher’s pieces on the subject of drink, primarily wine but also a fair amount about gin, too. Zimmerman’s second collection of Fisher’s writings — her first was, of course, about food — here the compiler seems to have had to delve a bit deeper into Fisher’s archives. The connection to drinking (anything) in many of them seems to be tenuous at best, with Fisher often jonesing angrily for a glass of sherry or hunting for a drop of gin.
Fisher does have a few pieces here almost exclusively about wine, but they generally turn more toward winemaking, the habits and circumstance of various wine regions, and even wine tasting events. Some of the stories are delightful — including one about the prejudice she experienced as a female judge of a regional wine competition — though many are clearly simpler works originally written for hire for non-gourmand magazine audiences. Nothing wrong with that, but I expect the audience for this book is looking for upscale commentary on the subject of drink than most of the trifles available here.
Recognizing that most of these snippets (many just a few double-spaced pages long) are not exactly relevant beyond the standpoint of curiosities today (vermouth… a dollar a gallon!), I imagine most will find a bit more pleasure from Zimmerman’s other book about Fisher.
B- / $12 / [BUY IT HERE]