Between 1929 and 1932, young M.F.K. Fisher (later a famed chef and memoirist) and her husband Al Fisher lived and studied in Dijon, France. Here she discovered the people and the food of Burgundy, and she describes both with warmth, sensuality, and humor (without becoming overly sentimental: "It was there, I now understand, that I started to grow up, to study, to make love, to eat and drink, to be me and not what I was expected to be."
Her writing is crisp and evocative. "He took the apple slices from the bowl one by one, almost faster than we could see, and shook off the wine and laid them in a great, beautiful whorl, from the outside to the center, as perfect as a snail shell. We said not a word. The music trembled in the room." Fisher helps the reader discover the beauty of our appetites. She writes of an old soldier who offers her chocolate: "The chocolate broke at first like gravel into many separate, disagreeable bits...Then they grew soft, and melted voluptuously." Then a doctor offers her bread, admonishing, "Never eat chocolate without bread, young lady!" There is a delicious denouement: "...in two minutes my mouth was full of fresh bread, and melting chocolate, and as we sat gingerly, the three of us, on the frozen hill...we peered shyly and silently at each other and chewed at one of the most satisfying things I have ever eaten..."
This was a time of great importance for Fisher, and she generously shares her experiences in a richly satisfying book. It's a small treasure.