M.F.K. Fisher


M.F.K. Fisher, the grande dame of food writers, died yesterday at 83.

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher died at her home in Glen Ellen, Calif.,after a battle with Parkinson's disease, said her daughter Kennedy Wright.

She wrote for such magazines as The New Yorker and completed 26 books and compilations of writings, among them "Serve It Forth," "How to Cook a Wolf," "The Gastronomical Me," "Consider the Oyster" and "An Alphabet For Gourmets."

Her best-known work was her translation of legendary gastronomer Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's 1825 book "The Physiology of Taste."

W.H. Auden once called her "the best prose writer in America."

"There is a communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine wine is drunk," Ms. Fisher wrote. "And that is my answer, when people ask me: 'Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?'"

She was born in Albion, Mich., the oldest child of a newspaperman, Rex Kennedy, and grew up in Whittier, Calif.

In 1934, she sold her first magazine story, using her initials so her father wouldn't know what she'd done, she said.

In 1937, she published her first book, "Serve It Forth," giving notice that she was about to change food writing in this country. She used her passion for food as a springboard for her blend of memories, observations and recipes.

"The quails are an artful lure to the most refined of palates, and the rabbit stew, steaming, aromatic, is made just as tempting with an onion or two, pepper freshly ground, a little bacon, and a -- of cheap, pure wine," she wrote in that book.

Food writer Craig Claiborne once said of her: "She bears the envious reputation of being the finest, most polished, scholarly and adventurous writer on gastronomy to have lived in the present century."

She married three times. Besides Ms. Wright, she is survived by another daughter, Anna Parrish; a sister; and four grandchildren.

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