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by Steven Rinella

Pub Date: March 15th, 2006
ISBN: 1-4013-5237-5

A captivating culinary project was born when a friend gave Outside magazine correspondent Rinella a copy of Le Guide Culinaire.

Published by master chef Auguste Escoffier in 1903, the guide featured exotic recipes for bird’s-nest soup, pigeon giblets in puff pastry and selle de chevreuil Briand (saddle of antelope with bear fat and poached pears in red wine). Rinella became obsessed with Escoffier’s cookbook because of its assumption that any chef worth his salt kills his own antelope, catches his own trout and digs for his own oysters. Rinella, you see, is an avid hunter. He eats everything he kills and prefers to limit his diet as much as possible to food he procures himself. So he decided to devote one year to gathering the ingredients for a 45-course, three-day Escoffier feast. Readers follow him to Iowa, where he collected sparrows; to San Juan Island, where he fished ling cod; and to a place in Montana where he hunted elk. (He won’t divulge the exact spot, lest a horde of eager readers encroach on his hunting ground.) All the while, he tried to convert vegetarian girlfriend Diana to a meat-eater. The final, hilarious scenes of this mouth-watering memoir depict Rinella and his friends preparing, savoring and occasionally being revolted by the Escoffier fête. Even Diana adored the oysters and caviar, but the crayfish mousse didn’t go over well. The author never indulges in ideological ranting, but readers will inevitably find themselves thinking about how radically removed most of us are from the sources of the food we eat. A vivid description of foie gras production may put you off the stuff forever.

The manly response to Julie Powell’s Julie & Julia (2005).