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Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Skipstone Press (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594850860
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594850868
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Smart, funny, and hugely knowledgeable, Langdon Cook is a walking field guide and a gifted storyteller. Fat of the Land is a welcome kick in the pants to get outside and start foraging for our suppers.” —Molly Wizenberg, author of A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes From My Kitchen Table

“Langdon Cook understands that the goal of hunting and foraging is not just to eat, but to eat well. Any city-eater can grab something at a supermarket, but to feel the thrill of grappling with lingcod or plucking dubious mushrooms gives the reader maximum pleasure—and zero pain. Provided you follow Cook’s recipes to satiate your whetted appetite. As a neophyte forager with a well-trained palate, Cook knows best.” —Betty Fussell, author of My Kitchen Wars and Raising Steaks: The Life & Times of American Beef

“Langdon Cook celebrates the bounty of the land and sea through the pleasure of foraging. It’s an inspiration and a reminder that eating your local foods connects you to the land you live on.” —Maria Hines, Chef/Owner, Tilth Restaurant

“In Fat of the Land, Lang Cook invites us to share in his enthusiastic, salubrious, wild food foraging quests. Get out of town, breathe in the fresh air, hear the quiet, exercise, feel good, connect with nature and the season—then return to the kitchen to delicious preparations of dandelion greens, squid, fiddleheads, or whatever the quarry. Lively, informative, soul-satisfying narrative.” —Jon Rowley, Contributing Editor, Gourmet --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Langdon Cook was a senior book editor at Amazon.com until he left the corporate world in 2004 to live in a cabin off the grid with his wife and son. Now a freelance writer and blogger, Lang has written for Gray's Sporting Journal, Outside, Fly Fisherman, The Stranger, Seattle Metropolitan, and numerous other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Washington's MFA program and a recipient of PEN Northwest's Margery Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency. He lives in Seattle, WA. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

I write about people who live at the intersection of food and nature. This gives me a chance to follow multiple threads that intrigue me: wild foods, foraging, natural history, environmental politics, outdoor sports, adventure travel, etc. My wife thinks it's all a racket--an excuse to bushwhack around the woods by day and put away obscene amounts of rich food and wine by night. I can't exactly argue with that view.

Really, though, my interest lies in the characters who feel equally at home in both field and kitchen. In my first book, "Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager," I go spearfishing for lingcod with a modern hunter-gatherer/English PhD; I hunt morel mushrooms with an Italian-American EPA administrator; and jig for squid on a city pier jammed with immigrants hooting and hollering in a dozen different tongues. Bottom line: Foraging is fun, reconnecting us to both the landscape and our fellow humans. Plus, a really good meal awaits. Each chapter concludes with a recipe.

My new book, "The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America," is about the men and women--many of them immigrants from war-torn countries, migrant workers, or refugees from the Old Economy--who bring wild mushrooms to market. To write the book, I embedded myself in the itinerant subculture of wild mushroom harvesters, a mostly hidden confederacy of treasure-seekers that follows the "mushroom trail" year-round, picking and selling the fungi that land on exclusive restaurant plates around the country. The book takes place over the course of several mushroom seasons and follows the triumphs and failures of a few characters, including an ex-logger trying to pay his bills and stay out of trouble; a restaurant cook turned mushroom broker trying to build a business; and a celebrated chef who picks wild mushrooms on the side to keep in touch with the land. "The Mushroom Hunters" was awarded a 2014 Pacific Northwest Book Award.

What else? I've worked as a reporter, editor, and writer my entire career, for both Old and New Media. I took the plunge into full-time writing after a year spent living in a cabin off the grid with my wife and son. (I emerged from the woods with a book idea and a new daughter.) I live in Seattle with my family, where I teach foraging and cooking classes, write a regular column for Seattle Magazine, and contribute articles and essays to a variety of other print/web media.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Recipes sound good, too.
Phil Long
Overall, the book is well written and enjoyable to read, and the author's enthusiasm for foraging is contagious.
Barbara
Langdon Cook's 'Fat of the Land' is more than a foodie read.
Michael A. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By CapXK on September 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Don't buy Fat of the Land as a field guide - although you'll pick up plenty of tips on edibles of the NOrthwest. Don't buy Fat of the Land for the recipes - as delectable as they may be. Buy Langdon Cook's Fat of the Land because it is a joy to read. The author's understated, delightful prose will make this a book that you will want to return to again and again. Witty, wry, a treasure. This is the best book I have read this year.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Smith on September 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Langdon Cook's 'Fat of the Land' is more than a foodie read. His exploration of our region's lesser-known and lesser-loved delicacies, and his travels far and wide in pursuit of them, will provide a sort of shad's-eye view of some of the weirder ways to spend your time in the Pacific Northwest.

Aside from the fascinating local lore--apparently, people 'squid jig' about a mile from my house--what I enjoyed most was Cook's sense of humor about himself. He doesn't pretend to be anything other than an urban male learning through trial and error about the natural world beyond (and often within) the city limits. There's no bluffing or jargon-spewing here: he's always ready to see the ridiculous side of his own adventures, and to appreciate the fecklessness of modern man in the wild.

Overall, a great book for anyone who loves the outdoors but fears the razor-toothed ling and the deadly Amanita phalloides mushroom.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By NW Native on September 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This one of the smartest and most entertaining books on food, nature and cooking to come along. It blew me away. Cook is a great writer. Like a younger, hipper Jim Harrison.

A must read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Naomi M. Judd on September 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Where our food comes from and how we get it is not always on the minds of contemporary eaters but Langdon Cook brings all these things into view in `Fat of the Land.' I enjoyed his depictions of foraging for mushrooms, dandelions and entering the waters for fresh crab, oysters and squid. Cook brings to life many distinctive characters who accompany him during his foraging excursions. These characters came to life on the page as colorful people - just as interesting as the catch of the day. As someone who is squeamish about fish I found myself wishing for more chapters about plants instead of the finned delicacies that Cook obviously loves (he has chapters dedicated to ling, shad, steelhead and silver salmon) but these chapters were nevertheless well written and held my attention until the next chapter about mushrooms or berries which I intrinsically enjoyed. I am sure there are many readers who will glean much more enjoyment from these chapters than I did. The recipes at the end of each chapter are introduced by little entertaining vignettes and describe in detail how to prepare these mouth watering meals. This book is just as much a culinary adventure as it is an off-the-land cookbook to treasure. Keep it on your kitchen cookbook shelf after reading it. It is sure to inspire and encourage many tasty meals. Having lived in Alaska and now Washington and foraged for many edibles myself, I would recommend this read to any of my friends.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Cora on September 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fat of the Land is a great read! Lang Cook, in the tradition of John McPhee, has written a collection of stories about places, the ecology, and the people who live and play in them. With foraging as his purpose, Mr. Cook's essays educate the reader about the natural history of his prey with witty prose and wonderful storytelling. I couldn't put it down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. A. Anderson on October 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Cook is a modern, urban male indigenous to an opposite coast where clams are fried, not dug. Relocated to the Pacific Northwest for graduate school, he met a fascinating young poet with an ear to the wind and an eye to the ground, and by her beauty, found himself rapt. In a comically-told recollection of her contempt at his efforts at a woo with a reconstructed fast food breakfast sandwich (""I don't do McDonald's", she said dryly"), his now wife and twice-babymama opened the door to a world that would clearly become a new passion for Cook.

Langdon Cook is no latter-day Euell Gibbons, and Fat of the Land - Adventures of a 21st Century Forager is no mere Stalking the Wild Asparagus. More than simply a field guide to modern locavory, FotL is a series of witty vignettes that are really about the people and places that have informed his passion - they all just happen to involve the hunt for "foods that don't run away." These are forthright tales of character-building trial and error (smashed shells of many razor clams before hitting limit), of humility at the smallness of men in an unforgiving landscape (and fast tides that fill slow boots with icy water), and thankfully, of hard-won triumphs (even if those triumphs are later rudely stolen in the middle of the night by greedy raccoons and must be re-won the following day). And more than a gatherer of popular and less-loved wild foods alike, Cook is clearly a writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jean Bartlett on September 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
What a great find and a good read. Hailing from the back woods of Al, I picked wild blackberries and poke in the 40's and 50's. Also went frog gigging on Friday nights-Langdon Cook has captured my precious memories in his modern day quest to find good natural food. His stories kept me up past midnight which is late for me. If you like stopping to look at a tree, bird or just being still to feel nature, you will enjoy this book. I am going to be waiting for the next book.
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