How to cook a wolf….

“How to Cook a Wolf” by M.F.K Fisher has gone missing. It was on the bookshelves the last time that I looked for it, or to be more accurate, the time before the last time that I looked for it as the last time that I looked it was missing. Could this wonderful book have been animated by the spirit of its extraordinary author and set off, with a red spotted handkerchief full of oysters and a bottle of Picpoul, to live with the nearby colony of missing socks? She came into my mind yesterday afternoon as I was cooking a very good leek flamiche from a recipe by Patricia Wells, who has the admirable habit of placing small boxes, filled with amusing anecdotes or quotes, on the pages of her cookery books. The box that caught my eye contained a quote by M.F.K.Fisher which, apart from reminding me of my loss, gives a good insight into her delight in food and sharing that pleasure with others – ” I feel that gastronomic pleasure can be achieved in these combinations: one person dining alone, usually upon a couch or a hillside; two people of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good restaurant; six people, of no matter what sex or age, dining in a good home.” This struck a chord with me because my pleasure in cooking diminishes with each additional person over and above the number of six. There are people who enjoy the challenge of producing a multiplicity of complicated dishes for the groaning board. I am not among them. I have never understood the idea of a challenge which normally involves something that I don’t want or need to do. I remember when I used to religiously go daily, at the crack of dawn throughout the year, to an outdoor pool, in England, to swim a mile before I went to work. After a good many years of this punishment  I realised that I didn’t want to do this at all and I stopped at once. The idea of running marathons is anathema, although I went through a 10 year phase of running until the blood was coming out of my eyes, not with effort, but with the unbelievable boredom. I would have preferred to have done my exercise as a member of M.F.K Fisher’s Alpine Club of the Cote d’Or which entailed climbing gently sloping roads to good restaurants or eating chocolate on a  Burgundy hillside. When asked by a journalist why she wrote about food, and eating and drinking instead of the struggle for power and security, or love, she replied “It seems to me that our three basic needs for food, security and love  are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot think of one, straightly, without the others – there is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk.”Which leads me neatly to a wonderful recipe for brownies sent to me by Mary Cadogan a few weeks ago. Originally Mary delivered a box of them specifically for my wife, but unfortunately I must have walked in my sleep because it appears that I ate them all before giving her any. The upshot was that Mary sent me the recipe with clear instructions on sharing. And then I looked on my bedside table where I noticed that the colony of lost socks had forced my copy of “How to Cook a Wolf” to return home. They’d probably drunk the Picpoul, eaten the oysters and, determined to keep their location secret, had returned the book so that the search would end.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in baking, Brownies, cake, Chocolate, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, friendship, M.F.K.Fisher, Mary Cadogan, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to How to cook a wolf….

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Socks are smarter than one imagines or they were frightened by the wolf 😉

  2. Tandy says:

    Sharing is caring 🙂

  3. So odd. I’m missing my copy of How to Skin a Cat. Perhaps the same culprit is to blame.

  4. ChgoJohn says:

    “The colony of missing socks,” eh? I always envisioned that Waldo stole my sock or key or marbles. Why else would I care to find him in the crowd at the train station or at the zoo? And if those brownies had disappeared under my watch, could there be any doubt that Waldo was to blame?

  5. I love that.. “food, security and love”.. I’ve had to explain to many why I blog about food, why not I say!? Blogging about food, photography, life and socks.. what could be better!

  6. So good, both post and recipe. Thanks!

  7. Have you ever read Tom Robbins Skinny Legs and All – inanimate objects have lives too!! The socks have literally wandered off but are looking for a new home and purpose 😉
    But the quote ““It seems to me that our three basic needs for food, security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot think of one, straightly, without the others – there is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine is drunk.” is superb

  8. ceciliag says:

    great writing .. what an extraordinary and deeply sensible woman. Now don’t look for the socks anymore, there is some kind of decree that we must wear odd ones! books are precious, glad you found yours just where you left it! c

  9. Just a bit smitten with the book and its polka dot handkerchief, Roger. I think some of mine might set off to see the world given half the chance. Must check the locks.

  10. Not being much of a cake maker, I’ve never made brownies, but I’m seriously tempted by these, so dark and chocolatey-looking, rather like the ones Lo Jardinier had for dessert at a restaurant by the port at Marseillan at lunch time today. I haven’t read How to Cook a Wolf, but I do have a very battered copy of Long Ago in France which I wouldn’t want to lose so I’m glad to hear your Fisher has returned home!

  11. Michelle says:

    Oh, my, so much food for thought in this delightful post. So glad that M.F.K. found her way home. (Which does remind me … where are my Fisher books? I’m suddenly feeling a bit anxious as I realize I haven’t seen them lately.) And apropos of the socks, I have the most marvelous little plaque in my closet with wording that starts: “Laundry Fairy, please come visit my house…” Hasn’t happened yet, sadly.

  12. a. m. f. says:

    A brilliant writer whom I’ve only read snippets. I think I saw her Letters book at the used bookshop last weekend…must take a look after your wonderful post.
    (P.S. thank you for tip about the basil sauce without milk. cheers ~)

  13. Yes, I’ll take the brownies instead, please.

  14. Lovely post – enjoyed the reminder about MFK Fisher, must re-read some of her writings!! Tried the brownie recipe this afternoon and they taste delicious. However mine did not set fully after 35 minutes, they are more like a moeulleux au chocolat, but they’ll be eaten all the same. Oh, and just a question, how long did it take you to eat them on your own 🙂 ? Did Mary bring you a whole recipe??

  15. Rachel says:

    I am an unabashed FIsher fan… I think I have a copy of (nearly) everything she ever wrote! If not for her I might not appreciate the idea of chocolate and baguette as a nosh… mmmmmm!! And, have you ever tried her semi-dried clementines? Oh la la… simple and wonderful. Merci for reminding me… and oh I shall try these brownies!

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