Friday, July 21, 2017

Who Lives Here?

You're wandering along the street in an historic neighborhood in Nashville at sunset time.

Wouldn't this house make you wonder if a storybook family lived here, not real people at all?

The answer to that question is Yes!
Yes to both possible answers!

But they are real enough.
I should know because the owners of this storybook house are the son and daughter-in-law of my sister. 

They are cat and dog lovers, 

go to work at responsible jobs--Sean at a non-profit that helps veterans find jobs, Christy at one of those mobile app places that gives me brain fever just trying to understand it. They come home and design their special gardens and interiors, entertain at the drop of a hat...

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. 
This couple is as real as can be.

But they also are two of the most fun people you'd ever hope to know.

I should know. I follow them on Facebook!

Wouldn't you love to see more of this cottage?

Maybe Sean and Christy will invite us back  at Christmas?

Monday, July 3, 2017

Happy Birthday, M. F. K. Fisher and review of The Gastronomical Me

Remember when you have discovered a new to you author and her writing takes your breath away and you cannot stop until you devour every book she's written? 

I felt that way about M. F. K. Fisher decades ago when I discovered her. Last year I ordered her The Gastronomical Me published in 1943, feeling fortunate to find a wartime copy instead of a reprint. 

Since today is her birthday, I though I would share this book with you in case it is new to you. With this autobiographical book you get travel, food and love.

As an armchair traveler I love books that let me see a country not as a tourist, and through Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher's pen you do, whether it is Switzerland, France, Mexico or California that she writes of.

"I heard Juanito singing almost as soon as I came to earth in Mexico.
I did not know it at first. I was like a sea-plant, with a thousand ears out on little stalks, but only to hear what I was listening for."

Food, naturally, is all through the book, and Fisher continues to be frustrated with America's meat and potatoes mentality at that time, and with the many heavy course meals of affluent America. Instead, she always chose a simple meal of something like salad, a casserole of cauliflower, bread, fruit, and wine.

"I was beginning to believe, timidly I admit, that no matter how much I respected my friends' gastronomic prejudices, I had at least
an equal right to indulge my own in my own kitchen.

My meals shake them from their routines,
not only of meat-potatoes-gravy, but of thought, of behavior...
perhaps next time they come I will blast their safe tidy
little lives with a big tureen of hot borscht and some garlic toast and salad,
instead of the 'fruit cocktail,' fish, meat, vegetable,
salad, dessert and coffee they tuck daintily away
seven times a week and expect me to provide for them."

America had vast areas of the country with mediocre taste when Fisher was writing. But how many of us today dare invite company to dinner and serve them borscht, toast and salad?

And where does love come into The Gastronomical Me? To borrow today's catchphrase: It's complicated. Fisher writes about her marriages but the following sums up her philosophy:

"It seems to me that our three basic needs,
for food and security and love,
are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot 
straightly think of one without the others.
So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing 
about love and the hunger for it,
and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it...
and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied...
and it is all one."

Those needs sometimes haunt all of us, don't they? 

I remember another thing that Fisher wrote in another book, something to the effect of her encouraging her reader to study their own hungers. Good advice, don't you think?

What are my hungers? Beyond fried potatoes and onions, that Is?

That's an ongoing thought process for me, but it is beginning to become clear to me that the answer lies somewhere in the realm of simplicity.

When Mary Frances moved into her Last House, she purposely chose simple food and a simpler life. In later years travel became rare. Instead of going abroad to see the world, the world came to her.

Where she usually had a bowl of soup for them, hot crusty bread, and a glass of wine, with a fruit dessert.

That sounds about right to me, how about you? Especially if the cook was...

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher