18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2006
The review in Publisher's Weekly made me curious about Rinella's book, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised. Given the title, I had half expected the book to be a collection of hunting stories, but what I found instead was an engaging narrative about one man's dedication to live responsibly off the land and to respect the passions and lifestyles of others, no matter how eccentric or random they might seem. Along with Rinella's often humorous and personal insights, he also weaves in social and scientific history to create a really fascinating read. I highly recommend that you put this book on your summer reading list!!
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2006
I found this book in the bookstore at the Culinary Institute of America while I was waiting for the college's tour to begin. The title caught my attention, and the first paragraph hooked me. After reading parts of it for 10 minutes, I bought it and finished reading it over the next three days. I took my time, savoring each chapter, each conversation, each morsel offered up by this delightful young author.
I have never hunted and rarely eat red meat, but I have backpacked and experienced nature in the raw. Reading Rinella's book, I felt so engaged, so alive, so thrilled with his adventures that it seemed I was living them myself. His sense of humor and his insightful observations about wide-ranging subjects [history, technology, human nature, wilderness, ecology, hunting and survival skills, animal behavior, the culinary arts] increased my pleasure. This was one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2009
From 2005-2008, I didn't read for pleasure. I read a great deal, but it was all about breaking into my chosen career field- investments and finance (great idea, eh?). Actually, it has worked out pretty well, and as I've gotten back some time to myself to start reading things for fun, I have not been able to become the voracious fiction reader I once was..
About two months ago, I was heavily into reading cookbooks. Not like your average Rachel Ray joint, but books about the fine art of cooking- sous vide, haute cuisine, old french techniques, etc. I came across a curious book called The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine. I hesitated to order it, in the way that someone who hesitates to pay more than $.01 + $3.99 for a book hesitates before pushing the buy button, but I did, and it's probably the best decision I've made in years.
The Scavenger's Guide is without a doubt the best book I've read in recent memory. It's a joyous pursuit of a meal to end all meals; a 3 day fest featuring the 100 year old recipies of Auguste Escoffier, a noted French chef. While it's interesting from the culinary perspective, what was more important about it is what Steven Rinella represents. It's the exposition of the hunting and fishing lifestyle he lives that really grabbed me and reminded me of who I am, not what I have become.
Now I am a redneck. I was born in Virginia, grew up in Alabama, and have hunted and fished with the best of them for many, many years. During the last few years though, something has nagged me about the "culture" surrounding hunting, and Rinella made me understand finally what that is. You see, I don't begrudge the modern redneck lifestyle, but it's just not me. There was a time when I wore cowboy boots and hats, drove a truck, listened to country music, and used camouflage as a fashion accessory. Over time though, I realized that that persona didn't fully fit me, and again, while I don't have a problem with the classic southern redneck simulacrum, it will never be me. My betrayal of that lifestyle made me feel disingenuous around those that live their lives that way, and I think my perception of what a "proper" hunter should be made me feel that I didn't belong in their world.
What Steven Rinella made me understand is that there are people out there like me. People who feel attached to the land, to the animals, and to the human role as apex predator. People who know they will never fit in with those that identify with the intro to "Huntin' the World Southern Style." People who know they will also never fit in with the Sierra Club or any other "conservationist" organizations because of their backwards interpretation of what nature is all about. People who can appreciate spending a year gathering wild ingredients to a 3 day feast using 100 year old French recipies. And people who might risk a great deal of time and money, as well as their lives, to pursue an American Buffalo in Alaska (see American Buffalo: In Search of a Lost Icon, Rinella's other triumph). Bottom line, people who would rather spend 5 days in the woods wandering around than spending a moment wondering exactly who they fit in with.
People like Steven Rinella are the true conservationists, not Ashley Judd. His two books have spurred me to action. Since reading them, our family has spent almost every weekend out in the woods, somewhere in Eastern Kentucky. I have joined a shooting range and begun scouting for deer, turkey and hog lands in the state. I have optimistically put in for an Elk tag in Kentucky, as Elk hunting has gone from something completely off the radar screen to something near the top of my list.
And don't get me wrong- I love rednecks and good old southern folks as much as anyone. My point is just that all aspects of the stereotypical culture don't resonate with me like they once did. Especially when I know there are Steven Rinellas out there.
I scoured the internet looking for more info on Mr. Rinella, but have been unable to come up with much- maybe by choice. If you read this, Steven, please don't hesitate to look me up. If nothing else, I can provide you with a hunt in the excellent public lands of eastern Kentucky, and give you a chance to chat with someone who identifies deeply with what you represent.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2006
I don't read outdoor books, and am only mildly interested in food writing, but I really admire renegade DIY personalities. This book is all about people doing things their own way. From the author to the crazy characters he encounters, this book will inspire you to think about doing things yourself rather than having them done for you. Which is an interesting way of life, to say the least. Maybe I won't build an eel weir anytime soon, but I'm glad to have read about somebody who did.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2006
This is the best book I've read in years. I had been hearing all the hype about it, and I wondered if I would like it since I don't normally read hunting and fishing books. But the author drew me in with his sense of humor, his elegant prose, and his deft way of weaving European history with his personal history. The narrative is gripping, the characters entertaining, and the concept brave and unique. If you read one book this year, read this one. It is a trip!
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2006
This is not just a book for hunters, fishermen, chefs, food-lovers, or French history efficianados, although all of the above will love it. It is a book for anyone who enjoys a great book. It is an unusual, hilarious, surprising page-turner, complete with rich characters, an unlikely romance, and a narrative that grips the reader and won't let go. I have never read anything like this. It is completely unique. Everyone needs to read this book!!!
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2006
The premise behind this book (at least for me) is a classic example of "Why didn't I think of that?". Anyone who is a fan of hunting, fishing, the outdoors, food or just laughing out loud will find this story entertaining in the extreme. In fact, "extreme", though sorely overused in today's vernacular, is at the very heart of this story. From the adventures had in gathering the ingredients, to the eclectic nature of the ingredients themselves, Rinella seems intent upon escorting the reader away from our ordinary (often self-imposed) limits. The writing is crisp, clear, wonderfully researched, and above all, entertaining. Taken as a whole, the story is thought-provoking, historically educational, sometimes-challenging, and utterly hilarious -- a rare bird indeed! This dish is fit for a king (or a peasant, or a trapper, or an accountant, or a hairdresser, or...).
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2008
I saw a review of this book in National Geographic Adventure Magazine. It really grabbed my interest, so I ordered the book.
Wow! What a great read. It is a mixture of tales about hunting, fishing, adventure, history, cooking, and friendship. How could you ask for more.
Let me hasten to say that if you are a non hunter, non fisherman, or even a vegetarian don't turn your back on this book---if you do, you will miss one heck of a story.
In fact, if I were to point out what I felt was the most amazing aspect of this story---it would be friendship!
The fact that Rinella had such a group of friends and family to cook a four day Thanksgiving feast for, says volumes about him and his family.
My test of a book is simple---would I read it again --- Not only, would I, but I will---if I ever get it back from those I have loaned it to, insisting that they read it:-)
Not only that but I will scan the list in ever "National Geographic Adventure" to see if Steve Rinella's by line is on a story! I can't wait for his next book!
In the mean time, would you please pass me that turtle soup and a few more mud bugs!!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2006
This is one man's fantasy realized, based on an old classic "cookbook" that itself was more wistful dream than something ever intended ever to be created. It's the autobiographical story of a year-long quest to bring to reality a self-created meal that takes its celebrant across North America, from lakes and woods to bird cages, farms and rooftops, all in the name of adventure and eclectic cuisine. Inside you will read about the trapping, shooting, hooking, netting, growing, and outsmarting of various living beings. It is the ultimate modern hunter-gatherer experiment, I suppose, but I don't know how seriously I was supposed to take some of the recipes and content of this book. (It reminds me another tome I once saw that was all about cooking road kill.) More than anything else, this book made for an eyebrow-raising read. The portions that ARE more seriously-intended, such as the parts about preparing game (i.e. the losing side of the hunting trip) should appeal to participants in outdoor food quests, and there is also a gauntlet tossed down early on that challenges those bored with their culinary fare to seek out new life forms, and eat them. If you've never sampled such delicacies as raccoon or crayfish (er, "crawfish" excuse me) then this book might prod you out of your complacent timidity and make contact with your latent inner-scavenger. For the rest of us, it's still pretty fun to read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2009
I first encountered Steven Rinella's writing through Outside Magazine... but didn't know it. I later picked up "American Buffalo" as a recommendation by my father and immediately recognized his style. "Scavenger's Guide" is no different and is written in the same common yet elegant tone that I've come to expect from Rinella. The way in which Rinella introduces his characters is as if he is painting the mona lisa with a wagner power painter. With one or two shots and somehow he manages to convey all the detail you would need to give each characters eulogy, or wedding speech. Between the elegant simplicity of the building of his characters and settings, Rinella masterfully stitches together numerous "spur trails" into a single voyage spanning topics such as conservation and culinary history, personal growth, friendship and relationships. And there is no shortage of good old fashioned fishing stories. An excellent read.