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From a writer now 80 years old, whose real subject whatever the topic at hand has been her own experiences of food, place, and appreciative living, comes a gathering of what she acknowledges to be her most "personal and nostalgic" pieces: the prefaces she wrote to her own books and others, complete with even more personal and nostalgic prefaces-to-the-prefaces that were composed for this edition. Read together, these layers of cordial reminiscence make up an impressionistic autobiography that glances off such encountered phenomena (and purported subjects) as Maurice Chevalier, the Gare de Lyon in Paris, or the "delicate pagentry" of Japanese cooking. (ln a twist, the burden of one preface, to The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook, is how Fisher never did encounter Toklas.) Bread, wine, cities, towns, age: to Fisher, all are inextricably and candidly entwined with particular occasions, companions, childhood treats, or personal tastes. Tea? It "makes me drunk." Jane and Michael Stern's Square Meals? "I really liked their two [earlier] books better." Angelo Pelligrini's The Unprejudiced Palate? Reminds her of the time they met as wine tasters, when Pelligrini showed up enraged that he was paired with a woman, and Fisher, the first of her sex to be appointed to the panel, fretted about having to follow the custom of spitting between tastes. Friends by the end of the session, "we spat in unison into the suddenly attractive puddle of fruit juice and water we shared, and a newspaper paparazzo from Los Angeles shot our jets meeting in midair just above the bucket." Just so does Fisher memorialize the moment's bond or pleasure, in her elegant spring-water prose that is itself a considerable pleasure.
Pub Date: May 18th, 1988
ISBN: 0865474141
Page count: 218pp
Publisher: North Point/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1988


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