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Golden Hour Books

M.F.K. Fisher's Provence, with photographs by Aileen Ah-Tye

M.F.K. Fisher's Provence, with photographs by Aileen Ah-Tye

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Enjoy M.F.K. Fisher's strong sense of place and deep love of Provence with this collection of rich, gorgeous photographs paired with some of Fisher's best-known essays. 

M.F.K. Fisher’s Provence highlights 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 nutmeg, 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.

“It’s difficult to pick out just one favorite travel book. But if I had to pick just one favorite, it wouldn’t exactly be a travel book, but rather a ‘being there’ book – and that is Two Towns in Provence by M.F.K. Fisher . . . [Reading it] was one of the turning moments in my life. She was writing about a café I’ve subsequently come to know very well in Aix-en-Provence called the Deux Garçons. I could smell it, and I could taste the little things she and her children were having at the time. And I thought, That’s where I want to be.” —Peter Mayle

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher, as M F. K. Fisher was the preeminent American food writer. She wrote thirty-three books, including a translation of The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Her first book, Serve It Forth, was published in 1937. Fisher's books are an amalgam of food literature, travel, and memoir.

Aileen Ah-Tye is a photojournalist who met M. F. K. 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.

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