Essay: “Once a Tramp, Always . . . .”MFK Fisher
Review: A delightful essay written in a memorable style, about food by someone who loves and writes about food for a living. She goes through a long list of foods she loved as a child, and, as she writes, the reader can almost taste them. But she saves the best for last as she remembers a list that Mark Twain gives in his A Tramp Abroad, of foods he misses from home in America while in Europe, and among that list is mashed potatoes with catsup. Here’s the author’s take on her memory of having a bowl of mashed potatoes with catsup.
Quote: “The potatoes were light, whipped to a cloud with rich hot milk, faintly yellow from ample butter. I put them in a big warmed bowl, made a dent about the size of a respectable coffee cup, and filled it to the brim with catsup from a large, full, vulgar bottle that stood beside my table mat where a wine glass would be at an ordinary, commonplace, everyday banquet.”
Early in the essay, she gives her blessing on food as a way to fight despair: “One has to live, you know. You can’t just die from grief or anything. You don’t die. You might as well eat well, have a good glass of wine, a good tomato.”
Comment: Some time or other, I knew someone who liked mashed potatoes and ketchup. I’m tempted to try a dish myself. RayS.
The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present. Ed. Phillip Lopate. New York: Anchor Books, 1995.