And my carefully considered blog plan might as well be thrown out the window, because this book - M. F. K. Fisher's 'Consider the Oyster' was never part of it. I found 'Consider the Oyster' in the poetry section of Waterstones this afternoon - it didn't belong there either but as soon as I saw, it it answered a tricky Christmas present question.
I don't know if M. F. K. Fisher remained well known in America, and is only just being rediscovered here, or if she'd all but vanished everywhere but having seen her quoted or heard here mentioned in passing for years it's a great to be able to actually get her books again and see what all the fuss was about.
Turns out she's brilliant, funny, informative, opinionated, knowledgeable - everything I want a food writer to be. I had rejected this book on my own account because I can't bring myself to swallow a raw oyster. I've tried, I failed, and it was such a failure I'm not even especially keen on reading about them. This is an exceptionally pretty book though (the cover is pearlised, for all the world like a palate of eyeshadow) and just the thing for a foodie in my life. It's a mix of recipes and anecdotes worked into essays, it will be the perfect book to retreat into over Christmas.
Oysters work surprisingly well with a range of Wines and also Guinness, but whilst I might drink a Muscadet Sèvre-et-Maine on its own on a hot summers day none of those very dry wines appeal in the same way without food in winter, and I don't get especially excited by the fruitier new world Sauvignon Blancs either - although they're very drinkable on their own.
An extra Brut Champagne is a different matter. Laurent Perrier and Pol Roger are both easy to find, and I really like my Champagne bone dry. It's exactly what I'd choose to sit and read a book with, and a couple of glasses might even persuade me to try again with an oyster - if anything could make the idea bearable it's a good slug of good Champagne.
If you generally find Champagne too dry this probably isn't the style for you - not that I feel like it's particularly dry whilst I'm drinking it, it's more that other champagnes start to seem cloyingly sweet by comparison. If dry is your thing though it's just wonderful (I am particularly fond of the Pol Roger Pure if anybody wants to know...).