I absolutely, unquestionably, and passionately adore the following passage written by MFK...my literary food idol. Mary Frances Katherine Fischer, who (yes, even before Julia) went to France, lived the life, ate the food and wrote eloquently about the experience.
I can't tell you how many times I have picked up my dog-eared copy of The Art of Eating, to reread the foreword to, "The Gastronomical Me," notably one of the most favorite of her books. She wrote:
People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do?
They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft.
The easiest answer is to say that, like most other humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. 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.
I tell about myself, and how I ate bread on a lasting hillside, or drank red wine in a room now blown to bits, and it happens without my willing it that I am telling too about the people with me then, and their other deeper needs for love and happiness.
There is food in the bowl, and more often than not, because of what honesty I have, there is nourishment in the heart, to feed the wilder, more insistent hungers. We must eat. If, in the face of that dread fact, we can find other nourishment, and tolerance and compassion for it, we'll be no less full of human dignity.
There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk. And that is my answer, when people ask me: Why do you write about hunger, and not wars or love?
I find myself always stilled by her words, and contemplative about the equation of food and life. We're admitted foodies, and follow all the contemporary lights in that constellation, but for me, none compare to MFK. And as much as I loved Julie and Julia, Fisher's words resonate with me in a way that no other food writer's have done to date. If at this writing I remain unconvinced of those who might challenge her worth, I shall wait, nonetheless, for one who can surpass her eloquence and passion...