Synopses & Reviews
A nature writer's obsession with a 100-year-old cookbook leads him on
a fascinating journey into the American wilderness.
A hybrid of memoir, cookbook, and travelogue, and a love song to hunting and fishing
and the American wild, The Scavengers Guide to Haute Cuisine is about
one man's quest to live off the land and recreate the recipes from Escoffier's
Le Guide Culinaire, the 1903 magnum opus that still stands as one of the
greatest haute cuisine cookbooks ever written.
Nature writer Steven Rinella takes along his vegetarian girlfriend and a cast
of eccentric friends and embarks on a year-long journey across America, trying
to locate the bizarre, often esoteric ingredients of Le Guide Culinaire,
such as animal organs and the surprisingly elusive street pigeon. His adventures
take him fishing for stingrays on a Florida beach; skinning eels with an upstate
New Yorker who keeps an emu as company; hunting mountain goats on the snow-covered
cliffs of Alaskas Chugach Range; and flying from Montana to Michigan to
collect a fifteen pound snapping turtle his mother found on the highway. Originating
in an article Rinella wrote for Outside magazine, The Scavengers
Guide is written in prose thats as clear and pleasing as a mountain
stream and is ultimately an ode to mother nature. The result is a narrative
that opens up a deeper understanding of the things we eat and how the natural
world affects the way we live.
"No, this is not a book about dumpster diving. Instead, it's the account of how Rinella, an Outside correspondent, set off on a quixotic year-long adventure in the wild with the end goal of preparing a three-day, 45-course banquet chosen from master chef Escoffier's classic 1903 Le Guide Culinaire, now considered (by most people) an exotic historical document rather than a working cookbook. Rinella intended to shoot, fish, slaughter, raise (as in pigeon husbandry), gather and otherwise procure the ingredients for these dishes himself, with help from his fishing and hunting buddies (also with the aid of freezers, which Escoffier would no doubt have envied). Rinella's girlfriend is a vegetarian, and he's aware that this project may seem distressing to some, but he offers a spirited defense of choosing to 'make his own food.' Rinella's year took him all over the U.S. and Canada with plenty of unusual outdoor adventures: frog gigging, eeling, 'glassing' for elk, making headcheese and sparrow-trapping. Preparing the feast, with its huge list of ingredients, took more than a week, with hard-breathing last-minute tension. Some dishes worked, some didn't (e.g., Crayfish Mousse, and Elk and Antelope Kidney Pudding). This unusual memoir could serve as a tasty gift for sporting types." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Rinella's warped, wonderful memoir...is enough to sate anyone's hunger....He recounts these madcap wilderness adventures with delicious verve and charm." Men's Journal
"A captivating culinary project a mouth-watering memoir." Kirkus
"Readers of outdoor humorist Patrick McManus will find Rinella's airy style very similar and often as funny. Vegetarians should steer clear, however, since the book is devoted to hunting, fishing, and raising animals for the ultimate incredible feast." Library Journal
This book is about one man's fascinating quest to live off the land and recreate the recipes from Escoffier's "Le Guide Culinaire," the 1903 magnum opus that still stands as one of the greatest haute cuisine cookbooks ever written.
About the Author
Steven Rinella is a Michigan native and correspondent for Outside magazine. His essays and reporting have appeared in the New Yorker, Nerve, DoubleTake, The Best American Travel Writing (2004), and Field and Stream. He lives in Miles City, Montana. This is his first book.