July 3 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of M. F. K. Fisher, a food writer and essayist whose work spanned several decades, beginning in the World War II era. Fisher wrote with a deep love of food: Her wit crackled like sizzling bacon, and her stories were never just about cooking—they were an allegory for life, love, and the world around her. Fans will appreciate Joan Reardon’s new book, M. F. K. Fisher among the Pots and Pans, a history of Fisher’s life traced through the kitchens in which she cooked, from her childhood in Southern California, through her stints in France, to her final years in Napa Valley. Watercolor illustrations of Fisher’s dwellings, recipes she published over the years, and photographs of her life punctuate the story.
According to former New York Times food editor Amanda Hesser, who wrote a foreword to the book, Fisher’s many works, including Serve It Forth and The Gastronomical Me, never fully reveal Fisher’s life in the kitchen. Among the Pots and Pans, published by the University of California Press, is full of detailed scholarly research that will be a treat for fans of the at-times reclusive Fisher. Many of Fisher’s kitchens were spartan, some not big enough to hold even cooking basics, but as Reardon’s book explores, Fisher’s unique mark may owe a debt to deprivation. —Sam Craig