on August 25, 2011
At a certain point many foragers grow hungry for bounty beyond mushrooms and cattails. They seek meat - raw and wild - yet making the leap from acorn gatherer to elk killer is a daunting one that seems beyond grasp. Hank Shaw's Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast narrows that gap with an entertaining, informative and approachable perspective on all forms of wild dining.
Hank Shaw is a true renaissance eater. Educated, well versed in ethics, smart in his approaches to gaining new skills and knowledge, yet rooted in his father's passion for the outdoors. I do not view him as the modern Grizzly Adams as others have, because I believe that diminishes the bridge that he provides to so many seeking the big step into a full table approach to wild foods.
At 336 pages with sparse photos and just a sprinkling of recipes, Shaw is more focused on a mid-range canvassing of everything one would need to know to forage plants as well as fish and hunt. Whereas Connie Green's Wild Table is all about the recipes, Shaw is about the how-to. How to find the stinging nettles. How to select the gun you need to kill a deer. How to process an animal in the field. Too much for some possibly, but enough for anyone on this journey to get far enough along that you have the confidence to take the next step.
The book is comprised of three sections: Foraging from coast to coast; Fishing and feasting from streams to the sea; and Hunting for food and fulfillment. Green's book focused in on California and Pacific Northwest flora, but Shaw features a more universal selection - wild greens, berries, acorns, and then present relatively easy recipes that are a step above the 70s Love Child recipes that have driven many from wild bounty. The fishing section starts with the ethics and rational for fishing and moves into shellfish, crabbing and a variety of the more common fresh and salt water fish and how to prepare them. He covers how to clean the fish and turn them into dishes such as Sicilian Grilled Fish with Oregano Oil.
The hunting section is the most intricate in the book in terms of his personal ethic and journey. If you weren't raised hunting, the odds of you ever hunting are minuscule at best. But Shaw breaks down those barriers with his personal story of an adult learning to hunt. He walks the reader step-by-step on selecting the weapon, practicing and getting licensed. As a result of his book I am currently in the process of learning to hunt in hopes of actually hitting the mountains next season with confidence that I can humanely kill an animal and efficiently turn that animal into food. Naturally, deer take center stage because of their prolific nature all over the world, but Shaw also covers moose, elk, quail, rabbit and more. Swedish moose meatballs, wild boar sausage and pheasant salad with fennel are just a few of Shaw's recipes.
Shaw is a bridge building for the non-indoctrinated. After reading Hunt, Gather, Cook, you will have the confidence to step out and find your wild meal, and will be able to do it ethically, efficiently and with fun - a wonderful guide on a wild foodies journey.
on June 6, 2011
Those of us who check in regularly to Hank Shaw's award winning blog, Hunter, Angler, Cook ([...]) have been waiting with scant patience for the coming out of his new book Hunt, Gather, Cook; Finding the Forgotten Feast It finally hit the stands late in May, on schedule, but none too soon enough for a lot of us.
The book came a couple of days ago, all 324 pages, including some great photography, and divided basically in three parts: gathering (foraging) things that grow; fishing, (including gathering shell fish) and hunting, both birds and four footed game. He includes at least a couple of recipes with each chapter, sometimes more, and they by themselves are worth the price of admission.
The book is a delightful mélange of personal experiences, descriptions, and instructions. Hank's writing style is captivating. He could write a book about a shovel full of mud and I'd not be able to put it down until the very end.
If he didn't' write so extremely well this book could have been a disaster, for it covers such a prodigiously wide field.
For those experienced in any one of the three fields, foraging, fishing or hunting, there may not be much to learn. However, I have been fishing and hunting for more decades than I care to state, but even I found new things in each. My plant foraging has been pretty much limited to going after wild strawberries and field mushrooms (the book omits any mention of edible fungi, for the author felt it is too large and complicated a subject) so this part was very helpful. I don't see stinging nettles where I live, but we have plenty of miner's lettuce to beef up our springtime salads.
Hank Shaw had scarcely touched a gun all his life until just a few years ago, but in less than a decade he has become a very accomplished wildfowler after a painful and not very fruitful introduction to duck and goose hunting. He describes whimsically shooting his first migratory bird - a moor hen -, blundering into someone else's spread, and shooting lots of mudhens before his first real duck.
And, of course, Hank is an accomplished chef, and tells you how to prepare and what you have gathered, fished for, or shot. Since my wife is not a good cook - she is a superb cook - and because I manage to create a mess if I get near the kitchen, I don't get to try my hand at cooking. So I don't know how good his recipes may be. I do know that I totally agree with his philosophy on how to cook duck, though, the skin crispy, and the meat rare.
While this is a how-to book that assumes the reader is brand new to the game, don't sell it short all you foragers, fishers and hunters. You'll be bound to find something new and you'll enjoy every word.
on June 5, 2011
This book is one of a kind; for anyone with a palate who cares about food. As the New York Times glowing review of June 5. 2011, describes it, it is not, as the name might suggest, a book for hunters. Rather: "It is instead a book that provides a glimpse of the inevitable byproduct of life spent at the farmer's market railing at the evils of industrial agriculture while spending huge amounts on organic food." Shaw shows us wild greens -- dandelions even -- and berries, and nuts and roots all around us, and what to do with them for a nutritious, tasty and adventurous meal. And, yes, he talks about hunting and fishing but with a respect bordering on reverence. While most of us will not hunt or even fish, his description of how to cut and cook the food is expertly instructive. Shaw shows there is a world of good food all around us if we only take the time to look and taste. This book shows you how. (It is also wonderfully written by a hunter/gatherer who was a political writer in his daytime job.)
on June 23, 2011
This is a nice book. It glorifies the life of a hunter/gatherer/back to nature sort of guy, which is not at all a bad thing. The problem is that for somebody who might be serious about trying it, this book is not nearly specific and detailed enough. I've been fishing all my life, but Hunt, Gather, Cook tells very little about the actual technique of landing a flounder (for instance). The sections on gathering are even worse. Shaw mentions specific edible plants and tells a bit about them, but the pictures are sparse, many are black and white, and there is no way on Earth that I could go out into the field or woods and not poison myself if I tried to find the plants described.
on June 13, 2011
Hunt, Gather, Cook should be on every thinking person's bookshelf - right between The Omnivore's Dilemma and the two-fisted hunting and fishing stories of Hemingway. It's a new and original take on some very old foodways that contemporary Americans have all but forgotten. Smart, lucid and occasionally quite funny, it's both a manifesto for rediscovering how to eat well in the world we inhabit now, and a well-tested, easy-to-replicate collection of delicious recipes for home cooks. Hank Shaw's assured, easy voice guides readers through kitchens, duck blinds, deer hunts, fishing trips, foraging expeditions, and just about anywhere else you can gather a feast. All you have to do is get outside and rustle up the ingredients!
on August 23, 2011
First off, let me be completely honest. I've read Hank Shaw's blog for several years now, and regularly correspond with him, so I was eagerly awaiting his first book. And though my expectations were high, Hank easily exceeded them.
For those not familiar with Hank, he's a forager, angler, and hunter who prefers wild (not to mention free) proteins and produce to those in grocery stores. As he quips on his website, he's "an omnivore who has solved his dilemma."
Fortunately for us, he's also committed to sharing his experience and knowledge. In this book, he offers a glimpse into a variety of plants, vegetables, herbs, mollusks, fish, and wild game that anyone with some basic knowledge and minimal tools can track down -- and eat -- in most of the USA. He does an excellent job of featuring the most widespread species of plants, fish and game, so that, regardless of where you live, there should be several things that you'll be able to locate on your own.
Hank's stories will excite you, his successes will inspire you, and the way he makes it all seem so easy will light a fire under your rump to get out and start hunting, gathering, and fishing.
All in all, this is an excellent book for both novice outdoorsmen and more experienced ones alike. Most importantly, Hank doesn't come off as some pretentious, self-righteous zealot (like so many other locavore/organic foodies). He's a guy you'd want to go hunting or fishing with. And after you're through with the book, you'll wish he was also a professional field guide.
My main criticism of this book is the lack of color photographs. I'm sure it was probably a publisher call and not Hank's (Hank's girlfriend Holly is his photographer, and his blog displays her talented captures of his exploits), but I think color photographs next to each species would've made it a slightly more useful book that I'd likely take along as a field guide.
Lastly (and it's not really a criticism), this book left me wanting more. It's not because the book is lacking any necessary, but rather, the book was so interesting and inspiring, I wish I had another couple hundred pages of his hunting and fishing stories to read through. So I hope it doesn't take long for him to follow his first book with a second one.
Do yourself a favor. Buy this book and start documenting your own exploits, all while making your own memories with your friends and family. This book is a bargain -- for just 15 dollars and change you're getting an enjoyable book that you'll quickly read cover-to-cover, then refer back to it for years to come.
on January 22, 2013
First off let me say that I read this book from cover-to-cover over a long weekend and loved it. Got some new ideas on things to try and went out and collected Madrone bark for immediate experimentation. But then again, I've been hunting, fishing and gardening since I could walk, so I am pretty experienced.
That said, this book is not for a beginner. There are few pictures and those are in black and white. However, because of this choice this book is very affordable for what you do get and that is lots and lots of ideas of non-currently popular food and what to do with it. He covers gathering of wild greens and vegetables well if incompletely. You won't be able to identify anything he talks about without other references. His section on ocean gleaning of seaweed and seashore vegetable suffers similarly. His section on fishing is heavy on ocean fishing but light on freshwater fishing (what no trout or any other freshwater salmonid?) which shows his background as having grown up on the coast. I thought the former was well done but again you can't use this book to tell you what species he talks about, you'll need other references. His discussion of big game hunting and how to deal with the carcass is from my point of view flawed and could have been done better. It isn't until he deals with wild pigs that he gives the tip to always cut the hide from inside to outside as it will help keep your knife sharp (and cut down on getting hair everywhere). He does cover small game, upland game bird (why isn't starlings covered, they do eat pretty well and for their size generate enormous breasts) and water fowling acceptably. And, completely misses mushroom gathering all together.
Overall, this is a great book and will remain in my personal library. However, it does have shortcomings that you should know about before you purchase this book.
on December 29, 2011
Hank Shaw does not purport this book to be the be-all and end-all of foraging. He intends it as a beginning. Hence the lists of resources and "further reading" in the back of the book. I agree that it would have been nice to have color pictures with captions, but expecting this book to also function as a field guide to all the flora and fauna listed is a stretch. There are already many excellent picture books for fish, game and plant identification; Hank was wise not to reinvent that wheel.
I love this book. I grew up big game hunting, fishing, gardening and "foraging" (though we didn't call it that) in Montana but have gotten away from those parts of my life due to living in an urban area. This book is inspiring and filled me with nostalgia and hope that I can get back to the level of food independence I experienced growing up.
This book is an accessible, engaging and enjoyable read that plays into the current trend of exploring slow, tasty and artisan foods, but may prove to be timeless as the level of consciousness about our nourishment shifts.
I intend to recommend this book to any one who loves food and/or the outdoors.
on June 13, 2011
Hank Shaw, in his new book "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast,"has a devious agenda. His aim is to get you to open your eyes and not just look at, but actually see the world around you. And the bastard actually succeeded, at least with this reader.
I took the brand new book to the beach with me, thinking I'd scan a few chapters and write about it for my blog, GoodStuffNW. The house we'd rented for the weekend was a block or so off the beach, a short walk that took me past an overgrown yard on one side and a wetland on the other.
After reading the first couple of chapters, my single-minded march to the beach turned into a completely different experience. I slowed down and started scanning those patches of green with different eyes, wondering what that blooming shrub might be, whether its bell-shaped blossoms would turn into berries in the next few weeks and if they might be edible. What would I make with them?
And that's what this book, written in a very approachable, unintimidating style...he uses phrases like "Trippy" and "Holy tartness, Batman!"...does so successfully. Earnest, informative and chock full of recipes, it reminds readers that the world out there is a rich, abundant, tasty place, not something to be tamed or avoided or, even more pertinently, forgotten.