I’ve reached the top five on the Gourmet Live 50 Women Game-Changers list. This week’s focus is M.F.K. Fisher, who is considered the inventor of food writing and may be the best ever at this craft.
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher grew up the daughter of a newspaper man and was an avid reader. Throughout a life filled with numerous travels, financial hardship, a world war, and failed marriages, Fisher chronicled her food observations. To learn more about her check out her foundation’s website or, better still, read her books.
Now, I have a confession. Even though I had heard about Fisher for years, I’d never read any of her books until last week. Well, that error in my food education has changed thanks to my local library. Her writing is wonderful—flowing and clever with a bit of humor. Most of her books don’t contain recipes in the traditional form. Many are incorporated into the narrative of the story.
If you’re not familiar with her work, make sure to get a copy of The Art of Eating, which is a compilation of a number of her books, including my favorites How to Cook a Wolf (tips on cooking during World War II’s rationing and shortages), The Gastronomical Me (considered her most autobiographical and best book), and An Alphabet for Gourmets (a series of essays written for Gourmet magazine.) A copy of the book is on its way to my home as we speak since I’m sure the library would like their copy back.
I had trouble picking just one recipe to make in Fisher’s honor. After lengthy consideration and multiple mind changes, I settled on one that appears in at least two of her books: Scrambled Eggs.
Yes, I know it's a simple dish, but it’s her technique that makes the results amazing. Instead of beating the eggs and starting them in a pre-heated skillet with oil or butter, Fisher’s recipe calls for gentleness and a cold pan. She wrote in An Alphabet for Gourmets, “I love this recipe, for its very gentleness, and for the demands it makes upon one’s patience, and the homage it deserves from its slow tasting.”
This dish doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it does take up to 30 minute to make, but believe me when I say it is worth the time. Even The Picky Eater enjoyed the eggs’ tender, fluffy consistency. He even tried mine with chopped garlic chives on top!
Scrambled EggsAdapted from The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
8 fresh eggs1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tablespoons of grated cheese or finely minced fresh herbs, if desired
Break the eggs into a cold, heavy-bottomed skillet. (I used a good non-stick one. Fisher used a heavy iron skillet.) Add the cream and stir gently until the mixture is blended. Never beat! Turn on the heat to low and stir occasionally, lifting large curds of eggs from the bottom. Never let the mixture come to a simmer. Stir in the seasonings just before serving, or just sprinkle over the top. Fisher wrote in the recipe, “This takes about half and hour—poky, but worth it.”
I started this journey through the list of 50 Women Game-Changers in food with a group of fellow bloggers from around the world. If you would like to read about their efforts, Taryn at Have Kitchen Will Feed has compiled a list of each week’s contributions.