“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.