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As They Were

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  309 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
This marvelous collection of autobiographical essays by the celebrated, much-adored Fisher covers her life, family, food and adventures.
Paperback, 261 pages
Published May 12th 1983 by Vintage (first published 1982)
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(showing 1-30 of 725)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
M.F.K. Fisher only came on my radar this year, and I didn't pick her up to read until I heard part of her essay about canning, and her earliest memory of jam-skin. She is one of the great foremothers of food writing, in fact there is even an award named after her for excellence in culinary writing.

I'm not sure this was the book to start with, as she is best known for The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition and The Gastronomical Me. This book is a collection of essays spanning 1941-1980, of
Jul 01, 2016 Dvora rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
M.F.K. Fisher is one of my favorite authors and probably my favorite food author. I read this some years ago, in fact probably more than once. One of the pieces is my all-time favorite piece related to food. "I Was Really Very Hungry" is about the waitress in a small country inn where Fisher went once alone to have lunch. Whereas Fisher is passionate about food, this waitress was obsessed about the perfection of a meal. Five stars for that story alone!

I'll leave the five stars because of that an
Mar 15, 2015 Ellen rated it it was ok
This book is a group of essays, written over a long time span, 1940's - 1980's. I found the quality uneven, some writing drew me into the time and place being written about. Other stories were strangely sterile and cold. A few pieces were personal experiences that for some reason the author wrote in the third person, with herself a character with a fictitious name. She seems very odd, detached from the world she is writing about, as she herself says,she felt "invisible".
Often she mentions sound
Jan 06, 2008 Wendy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sincere foodies, the old-fashioned kind and the new arrivals
Started reading this in front of the fire, glass of inexpensive champagne in hand, on New Year's Eve (2 little kids...not going out.) I almost wept at knowing I could not time-travel my way back to 1939 Marcel's restaurant in L.A. or to the 3 chalets along Lake Geneva she described from the 1940s. Still worse was the meal she ate at a converted mill in...what was the town in Alsace (?), with the over-eager waitress and the semi-retired master chef. I had never in my life craved terrine de campag ...more
Feb 01, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it
Ok, MFK Fisher is always a slooooow read for me. I've been working on this book off and on for a few months now because it just doesn't move fast enough to hold my attention for very long. But the writing is so lush and beautiful there is no choice but to just luxuriate in her sentences as you drink it all in. Completely worth taking your time with and savoring. This is a delectable book that showcases some of her best writing and also gives you a lot more insights into her bright, full life.
Feb 21, 2015 Blair rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2015
I struggle with how to describe M.F.K. Fisher. There are so many words, but I feel like they are a bit oxymoronic. Sitting down with Fisher is more like sitting down with a friend, vs. a book. I feel like I'm in a conversation and it's warm, fascinating, and highly entertaining. I also feel like a time-traveler - these are worlds and places that I can only see through her eyes. Her Aix was entirely different than my Aix. Then again, I feel like I do when I eat something wholesome - I have this f ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Naomi rated it really liked it
Short essays of MFK Fischer's travels, mostly in France. Some of the essays were brilliant, her descriptions of the people in a time and place were captured so vividly, sometimes hilariously. Other essays didn't quite do it for me. All in all, though, a nice delightful read.
Erica Harmon
I've always thought to myself that I'd like M.F.K. Fisher, but never made it a priority. A coworker brought in her copy and lent it to me after a conversation about food and food writing the previous week, and surprised by her thoughtfulness (and a reading slump), immediately started reading it.

I especially loved the section on traveling on freight ships and was surprised more than once (I didn't learn) by her frank observations about sex and race (particularly in that section). I kept expectin
Rhonda Sue
May 10, 2016 Rhonda Sue rated it really liked it
MFK is one of the giants in food writing so I figured I'd pick this audiobook up and check her out directly. The stories were very interesting and well written, insightful and just a pleasure to hear. The narrator was good-I think she captured MFK well-even though I'm not familiar with MFK's speech pattern or voice.

I love reading all food books, particularly food history and gastronomic pieces. It's a great way to travel abroad-without leaving your car. If you're a foodie, I would recommend this
Feb 13, 2014 kasia rated it it was amazing
Only a handful of these pieces are really 5-star quality, but I find Fisher's world so interesting and marvelous, and her prose so exquisite, that I can't resist. It's not as good as The Gastronomic Me overall, but there are so many wonderful, wonderful moments.
Jim Aker
Oct 07, 2010 Jim Aker rated it really liked it
An excellent series of essays, called reports by the author, on her travels from Whittier California to the South of France and in between aboard ship. Mary Francis Kennedy Fisher was a fine writer and an American treasure. Her work is evocative, and still quite informative as well as amusing. One story in particular was of great interest in that I had a similar experience in my time spent living in France. The story, "I Was Really Very Hungry" is most amusing and was a featured reading on the N ...more
Jun 28, 2015 Jane rated it liked it
More like a 2.5. I was disappointed after waiting so long to read this.
Aug 27, 2014 Liz rated it liked it
Nice collection of essays (reports) from the author's travels to the south of France as well as time in California.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. Ms. Fisher is a wonderful writer and her prose is flowing and evocative but somehow her ramblings through the south of France and aboard ship and wherever else she took us on this voyage of food and life was just a bit too mundane for my tastes. One gets the feeling, while reading, that one is there and experiencing what is being written about but when the book is closed at the end one wonders what just happened. It just wasn't really memorable. I gave ...more
Sep 19, 2014 Anthoferjea rated it really liked it
Sometimes infuriating in its scattershotness, but mostly like an incredible kaleidoscope of pictures and events.
Jun 26, 2016 patty rated it really liked it
Another jewel from Fisher's oeuvre.
Feb 12, 2016 Sharon rated it really liked it
This is a simple, elegant collection of some of M.F.K. Fisher's memories. Unlike many small collections of memories, this one was interesting!
Dec 06, 2008 Tora rated it it was amazing
Have been a fan of MFK Fisher's writing for a few years now, ever since I started le food writing -- but strangely enough, this is the first book of hers I've read in its entirety (essays, mostly). Working my way to the Gastronomical Me, here is one of the finest writers America has produced. Especially savory writing for those who cannot get enough of food, wine, the art of dining, life and love. But more than anything, I have learned what it means to be that is, human....
Scott Besser
did not finish. good writing - very good, but this collection of essays is not a page turner, which I knew when picking it up originally. I picked it up on the recommendation of a friend who knew I'd appreciate the writing - esp of food and of travel and of times past. maybe will pick it up to read an essay once in a while. not a compelling read but a succulent one.
Jan 23, 2009 Erin rated it really liked it
Very nice and enjoyable selection of essays from a renowned food writer. Her writing is very rich - so rich that I had to take them one story at a time. I also enjoyed the bemused quality present in many of her essays. I look forward to reading more from her.
Nov 11, 2009 Jo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
I always find time with M.F.K Fisher's books and stories relaxing and comforting....her books are classics for lovers of food. There are many good reasons she's still widely read. Highly recommend any and all of her books.
Dec 30, 2011 Stephwaters rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book but I found her writing to be a little too whimsical and random. I did find it interesting reading about her life experiences in the early 20th century - life was just so different back then.
Sep 06, 2012 Amara rated it liked it
Some beautiful writing, I especially loved the pieces "I was really very hungry" and the ones on her personal kitchens in France. There were a few though that were kind of strange and hard to follow.
Aug 16, 2010 Anjali rated it liked it
This book is making me hungry, for fish specifically. I shall return to this book when I'm more likely to be able to satiate the appetite for the fresh fresh fish described by Ms. Fisher!
Oct 20, 2011 June rated it it was amazing
As a vegetarian, I was a little hesitant to read a book by the author of "How to Cook a Wolf," but no worries--this book was mostly essays about place with some table thrown in. Excellent.
Marjorie Elwood
Jul 10, 2014 Marjorie Elwood rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, travel
Each story was a period piece, an explanation of a particular time and/or place and/or mode of travel. I found them a little tepid. I think I would prefer her food writing.
Tom Grammer
May 26, 2008 Tom Grammer rated it really liked it
This was the first I'd ever read of M.F.K. Fisher. A friend gave me this book to read while I was in the hospital with food poisoning.
Mar 25, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Took me a while to get through this -- it was rather lovely, but definitely leisurely. Fisher's writing is clean and evocative.
Jun 08, 2008 Christine rated it really liked it
Always reliable MFK Fisher goodness, but not as sparkling as other pieces...more food would have helped.
Mar 21, 2010 amy rated it really liked it
Reading the shipboard chapter side by side with Ship of Fools could be interesting.
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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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