"Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person." Quote by Fred Bear 1902-1988
I recently finished reading Steve Rinella’s first book called “The Scavengers Guide to Haute Cuisine” and thoroughly enjoyed every page. I am a little late to the party since this book came out in 2005 but this is because I found out about the author through other means. You may have heard of Steve due to his second book “American Buffalo” or more likely due to his show on the Travel Channel last year called “The Wild Within”. I first became aware of Steve when I saw the promotional advertising leading up to the first season of the Wild Within and I could immediately tell that this was not your normal hunting show and it really appealed to me. I even blogged about the show and his second book last year (LINK) because I wanted to do my part in spreading the word about the refreshing program and interesting book.
As I learned more about the host and his show, what really appealed to me was Steve’s approach to hunting. He actually addresses this subject early in this book as well. In chapter 1 he starts out by explaining that he spends a lot of time thinking about food and how to collect or gather that food. Although he does spend some time gathering wild asparagus or huckleberries, the majority of his food search takes place through hunting and fishing. Now he isn’t preaching that everyone should be a hunter gather, but what he does portray in his book and his show is his focus on hunting as a part of larger cycle that culminates with preparation and consumption of the game as great food. You won’t see on his show or read in the book about trophy antlers or record books being the driver for his hunting. Instead it is more about the wonderful meals he can provide for his family and friends and the priceless experiences he shares with those that venture out with him. This really mirrors my own belief about hunting and fishing and although I love to take deer with nice antlers or a really big fish, it isn’t the motivating force behind my pursuit. It seems to me that the cycle of hunting (or fishing for that matter) is incomplete without the consumption of food rendered from the game. Simply put, I feel like Steve and I are like minded on this subject.
I initially was disinterested in this book because the title didn’t sound very interesting, but once I had been exposed to “The Wild Within” and Steve’s second book “American Buffalo”, I knew I would enjoy it. The book chronicles Steve’s quest to prepare a 3 day Thanksgiving feast with 45 courses based on recipes from a 100 year old French cookbook utilizing wild game procured by himself, his brothers, and his friends. Steve takes you along on his journeys to catch pigeons, sparrows, frogs, ling cod, crawdads, elk, and all manner of other creatures. Along the way Steve shares his own experiences as a hunter and the challenges we all face as outdoors men and women in interacting with the rest of society that thinks we are nuts.
This was me being goofy trying to line my face up with the cover while reading.
Steve isn’t another John McPhee or Hemingway, but he writes about things that I like to read about in a manner that I can relate to so I feel like I am hearing stories relayed from one of my hunting buddies instead of trudging through a book. In this case Steve has sparked a new interest for me in expanding my culinary horizons. I intend to cook my wild game in new and exciting ways going forward and I hope to try my hand at preparing some wild game animals and fish that I haven't tried in the past.
I hope this isn’t the last book from Steve, but in the interim, there is a new show beginning in 2012 called “Meat Eater” that Steve will host on the Sportsman channel. Several other bloggers have also written on this subject so I won’t carry on here, but needless to say, I am excited about seeing a continuation of the work that was done in the “Wild Within”. Here are the links to those posts written by Sole Adventurer (CLICK HERE) and Socal Bowhunter (CLICK HERE) on the subject. I hope you give this book a chance to expand your horizons and at the very least, you will never look at a pigeon the same way (those who read the book will know what I mean).