A celebration of eating well and drinking even better as a recipe for the good life.
This posthumous collection of food pieces (very broadly defined) by the award-winning novelist serves as a sequel of sorts to The Raw and the Cooked (2001), which documented his insatiable hunger for food, from the mundane to the exotic to the exquisite, and so much more. The linchpin of a collection that holds together surprisingly well is the title piece that he wrote for the New Yorker in 2004, an essay that scandalized some readers in its embrace of excess. “Is there an interior logic to overeating, or does gluttony, like sex, wander around in a messy void, utterly resistant to our attempts to make sense of it?” he wonders. “Not very deep within us, the hungry heart howls, ‘Supersize me!’ ” Some of the other essays also reference this piece, in its vivid description of its 37 courses, along with his ironic complaint that only 19 wines accompanied it. He later writes, “I have often thought that if I received an early warning that I would pass on sooner than later, I’d get myself to Lyon and eat for a solid month, after which they could tip me from a gurney into the blessed Rhone. Maybe I’d swim all the way downstream to Arles for my last supper.” In the latter half of the collection, Harrison proceeds through just the kind of extended warning that the author had suggested, with the thoughts on the way he has lived his life underscored by the ravages he is experiencing. Along the way, the author waxes wickedly funny over matters of art, politics, spirituality, sex, and the commingling of all of them. His advice: “Your meals in life are numbered and the number is diminishing. Get at it.”
If this is the last we get from Harrison, it serves as a fitting memorial.