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Consider the Oyster

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  707 ratings  ·  44 reviews
M.F.K. Fisher, whom John Updike has called our "poet of the appetites," here pays tribute to that most delicate and enigmatic of foods---the oyster. As she tells of oysters found in stews, in soups, roasted, baked, fried, prepared à la Rockefeller or au naturel--and of the pearls sometimes found therein--Fisher describes her mother's joy at encountering oyster loaf in a gi ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published October 1st 1988 by North Point Press (first published 1941)
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John E. Branch Jr.
This exceedingly modest book (a mere 77 pages) presented me with some modest, unexpected dilemmas. Seeing it in a book swap and recalling, from an encounter years ago, that I was determined to read one of her volumes someday, I picked it up, thinking I'd breeze through it and return it to the swap--I'm trying to pare my library. But I find I don't want to let go of it. Now the question is whether it belongs in my kitchen with the cookbooks (because it does contain recipes) or somewhere among the ...more
This book both introduced me to and sparked my love of oysters and also of MFK Fisher, whom W. H. Auden called "America's greatest writer...."

"An oyster leads a dreadful but exciting life. Indeed, his chance to live at all is slim, and if he should survive the arrows of his own outrageous fortune and in the two weeks of his carefree youth find a clean smooth place to fix on, the years afterwards are full of stress, passion and danger. . . ."

"Men have enjo
MFK Fisher is my new girl crush. Just look at her. This book really is just about oysters and I wish there was more. Fisher is sharp, snobby and super funny. She has included several recipes. My favorite is To Make a Pearl. In the list of ingredients, 1 diving-girl.
Everett Darling
I identify with Consider the Oyster on a personal level, having grown up on the Atlantic and later Pacific coasts, and having had gastronomical and what could be considered professional contact with oysters all my life. I enjoyed her stories, second-hand tales, and explanations but I didnt enjoy her gender-rific use of "man" and "men" to describe traits of people, or human truths or whatever - my sister loves oysters more than I do, theres no reason why she shouldnt include my sister, and women ...more
After reading this book, I had two thoughts: MFK Fisher is a crazy, snobby old loon; and would I ever love to sit next to her at a dinner party. Her writing is witty, knowledgeable and from a different era. There are great recipes; the one on oyster loaves was the most tantalizing to me. At about 75 pages, this book is an easy read. I would read other stuff by this looney old girl.
Jul 30, 2010 Nat added it
I learned that you can make an "oyster loaf" by slicing off the top of a loaf of crusty bread, jamming a bunch of fried oysters in there, covering everything with butter, and then sticking it back in the oven. Sounds tasty.

Also, I (think I) learned that oysters are alive when you eat them raw.
Mandatory reading for the ostriavore. Includes colorful recipes, polemics and oysterlore.
Mary Frances Kennedy (MFK) Fisher is a delight to read and she is growing on me with each volume of hers that I take up. She has a very wry sort of humor that is often in evidence, but she also shares her bittersweet memories with us too. Don't let this slim volume fool you. It's not a recipe book, although it contains a number of recipes which round out her wonderful musings on The Oyster!
A food and travel writer of the first order, I have yet to read any food or travel writing quite like hers.
A series of anecdotes and musings about oysters as food, this book has Fisher's delightful tone and erudition, but, it's a little thin. It did make me want to eat oysters really badly, though.
Jan 13, 2013 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Every foodie I've ever talked to. ever.
Shelves: non-fiction
Unfortunately this does not hold up well. The language is dated (and a little pompous) and there are tons of time sensitive references that you will only get if you've deeply immersed yourself in 1940s/1950s pop and socialite cultures (and I haven't). The actual information one can glean about oysters is interesting and some of the recipes look like they'd be fun to try just for the sake of doing it. Her writing about eating and cooking - when she's not making it "relevant" to her day and age - ...more
I really enjoy the writing style of M.F.K. Fisher, and this book is a very quick read on a topic I find very interesting. However, I found the concentration on recipes a bit frustrating.
Greg Harris
Unfortunately, my experience with oysters doesn't extend much beyond the canned and smoked variety on top of a cracker, but now I'm hungry for something more. As usual, Fisher salts her work with unusual facts, charming anecdotes and beautiful writing, a recipe that will keep me coming back for more.
made me very nostalgic for eating oysters. learned a fair bit, too.
Absolutely delightful.
MFK Fisher is at the very top of my fantasy dinner party invitation list.
a fun, quick read of stories and entertaining anecdotes surrounding the fragile yet winning life of the oyster. if you love food and oysters (like i do), then you'd dig it. if not, then prob not your cup o' tea. unless you like to cook. then you wanna pick this book up and try some of the yum delish recipes that involve - what else? - the dear oyster.
Nice blend of detail, fact, opinion and attitude. Lots of good old recipes -- soup, loaf, fancy, plain... MFK's quite the wit and she does her research, often with gusto. The only possible crit I can come up with is that this book hasn't been updated since 1954, but that just adds to its charm I'm afraid.
A fun read. M.F.K. Fisher's poetic description of oysters and their consumption made this little book a quick read. And almost made we wish I liked oysters!
This a tiny little book, only 77 pages long. It is, literally, just about the oyster. I like M.F.K. Fisher's writing style, but to really enjoy her I think I'll have to read another book, because I don't really like oysters. I'm one of those who will eat them cooked but not raw, definitely an amateur.
Who could have thought I could read a book of essays about oysters and enjoy it? Surprisingly this is what happened to me. I am amazed how Fisher was able to make her subject interesting in each essay. Luckily I love oysters!
Aug 22, 2014 Leslie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone.
A must read for anyone who loves oysters, excellent gastronomical writing and/or history. Full of real life international oyster stories and recipes. MFK Fisher is simply one of the best. Period.
Jan 09, 2011 Eliza rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
I've been intending to read MFK Fisher for a while. This was a great, great place to start. I could read this over and over again, but luckily there is so much more of hers I can read first.
This book is so fun! I laughed out loud numerous times. MFK's sensibility is unique & her voice has just the right combination of wry, knowing & humorous. I'm looking forward to trying the recipes.
This was the Christmas family book club selection this year; chosen by Dad. This is the first time I've read MFK Fisher. She's got a singular and witty voice. I learned a lot about oysters!
A slender volume of witty observations by one of my new favorites M.F.K Fisher. I keep this with my cookbooks - it offers all the basics and all the lore of oyster recipes.

My first foray in to MFK Fisher after hearing so much for so long. Thoroughly enjoyable book - a simple and straightforward subject, with compelling and descriptive narrative.
Everything you would ever want to know about oysters including how to cook and eat them by one of America's greatest food writers.
A modest, concise book that will make you very hungry. Even if you're not a seafood fan, you'll want to try some oysters after this.
As is usually the case with Ms. Fisher, "Consider the Oyster" is more song in praise than simple prose essay. Includes recipes.
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Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was a prolific and well-respected writer, writing more than 20 books during her lifetime and also publishing two volumes of journals and correspondence shortly before her death in 1992. Her first book, Serve it Forth, was published in 1937. Her books deal primarily with food, considering it from many aspects: preparation, natural history, culture, and philosophy. Fisher ...more
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