Author(s): Aileen Ah-Tye
Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was a preeminent American food writer. She wrote some 27 books, including a translation of "The Physiology of Taste" by Brillat-Savarin. Two volumes of her journals and correspondence came out shortly before her death in 1992. Her first book, "Serve it Forth," was published in 1937. Her books are an amalgam of food literature, travel and memoir. Fisher believed that eating well was just one of the "arts of life" and explored this in her writing.
Aileen Ah-Tye is a photojournalist who met Mrs. Fisher on assignment for UPI. She discovered she shared Fisher's background in news, as well as her affinity for France. Ah-Tye lives in San Francisco.
The book highlights her strong sense of place - Fisher s Celtic eye for detail - with a comparison of Aix-en-Provence, a university town, the site of an international music festival and the former capital of Provence, and Marseille, the port town.
Fisher s description of the sights and smells belonging to an Aix bakery shop window is her Platonic ideal of a bakery shop to be found anywhere in France, for example, with its delicately layered scents of fresh eggs, fresh sweet butter, grated butter, vanilla beans, old kirsch and newly ground almonds.
Then, there is her portrayal of the sounds of Aix s fountains mixed with the music of Mozart during the town s festival, leaving her bedazzled. She would return again and again to stroll the narrow streets of Aix with two young daughters who seemed to grow like water-flowers under the greening buds of the plane trees.
It is the quality of Fisher s writing that inspired photographer Aileen Ah-Tye to look for her Provence. In a letter to Fisher, Aileen would report back from Marseille: The eels and the prickly rascasse were exotique to my San Francisco eyes, the smells as pungent as you can get, and . . . miracle of all miracles . . . the men and women on the docks were exactly as you described them.
Thus, began a collaboration that illustrates Fisher s passion for life and all its sensual pleasures that nourish the soul.