25 January 2009

An Alphabet for Gourmets

“A is for dining Alone… and so am I, if a choice must be made between most people I know and myself.”

Is it any wonder the Mary Frances is dining alone with that scowling photo on her book. Would you want her sitting across your table? Let's think of her dining alone and organizing this book with this image in our minds.

An Alphabet for Gourmets is an abecedary, a book that tells its tale by moving through the letters of the alphabet. I adore abecedaries! Letters fascinate me and though my spelling sucks (feel free to send me corrections) I love the order of letters and though Scrabble is the one game I fail at miserably, I keep bowls of letter tiles sitting around to make me happy.

Like so many of Fisher’s books, An Alphabet for Gourmets it is more of a history with pertinent recipes thrown in rather than a pure cookbook.

As for dining alone... I totally understand Fisher's sentiment. There are people I would sleep with that I wouldn’t eat with! I love dinning alone. One of my best Christmas’ was spent alone on my friend Harry Lowe’s farm in Virginia. I cooked a hot chicken curry, opened a bottle of crisp white wine and sat contentedly at the table. An oil lamp lit the table inside and a lone floodlight lit up the falling snow outside. It was magical.

Along with dining alone in the "A" section, M. F. K. Fisher gives us a recipe for ambrosia.


6 fine oranges
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 cups grated coconut, preferably fresh
good sherry

Divide peeled oranges carefully into sections, or slice thin, and arrange in layers in a glass bowl, sprinkling each layer generously with sugar and coconut. When the bowl is full, pour a wine glass or so of sherry over the layers and chill well.

Having been raised in the South, I am a bit of an ambrosia purest. Ambrosia contains oranges, coconut, sugar. In the most decadent of kitchens (not the Baptist kitchens) a shot of spirits was thrown in for good measure. No pineapple, no cherries and certainly no marshmallows!

Fisher’s recipe stays true to my Southern roots. and just think... there are 25 letters left to go...

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