Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast
by Hank Shaw
Publisher: Rodale Press, Country: US
ISBN: 9781605293202, Edition: 1st, Year: 2011
Link to publisher’s page or site
This review is the personal opinion of the reviewer.

Overview

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.

Full review

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.

This is an original review for The Gastronomer’s Bookshelf.
Main rating: 4. Recommended – good
Visual appeal: Okay
Suitability as a gift: Quite nice
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