The title "It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It" does not really give one an idea of what this book is really about. The subtitle: "Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter Gatherer" is much more descriptive of the contents.
First of all, it's got a lot of very funny writing. And there are some real "characters" that the author describes so well that I felt I could shake hands with them.
I highly recommend this book for anyone who really loves food and wonders why we eat what we eat and what happened to the things that once were common on the tables of America - or for that matter, other countries where it is difficult to find anything but "factory food" unless one lives in a truly rural area.
Here is the review I wrote for Amazon. I received the book via the Amazon Vine program so am required to publish a review but this is one I would have reviewed anyway.
Funny, enthusiastic, witty and insightful.
This is really a remarkable book because it looks at things that we see every day in a different light - that is, consider how many times you may walk past something that in the past was a source of food for many of our ancestors. And not just Native Americans but ordinary folks like me and you.
I grew up on a farm in the 1940s when most of the people in the area still gathered wild "greens" in the spring, pawpaws, maypops, berries, wild asparagus, onion grass, ramps, plantain, watercress, mallow, nasturtiums, nettles and purslane as well as the wild mushrooms that only the experts in the family were allowed to pick.
There was also hunting and fishing, finding bee trees (for the local "bee charmer" to harvest).
The author writes with wonderful humor and modesty in that what he was doing is often labor intensive but certainly for one who truly believes in eating what is available for free (and often tastier than anything in the stores) it is worthwhile, totally satisfying.
He writes about his backyard garden and reading his description of a homegrown tomato and the incredible flavor, causes me to wish that I had managed to find the effort to plant some this year. I am growing herbs, onions, shallots and radishes but thats it for this year.
His description of his adventures in Cajun country had me laughing out loud and the writing makes the scenes so vivid that it is easy for me to picture exactly what was happening. We hunted frogs when I was a child but we used long-handled fish nets because my grandpa was afraid we would stab each other (or ourselves) if we had gigs. The rule was, if you caught it, you cleaned it once one was old enough to handle a knife safely.
His trip to Alaska to spend some time with the Native Gwich'in people of the Alaskan tundra is equally inspiring. It also points up the problems these people are having with the attempts of the oil companies to exploit an area that is CRITICAL to the continuing success of the caribou as the ANWR area is their calving ground and not even the natives go there because it is important to not disturb the routine that has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years, or longer.
Foraging around San Francisco can be successful but the writer indicates that some people appear to be in it only for the notoriety (or the money) and not from any personal conviction about sustainability. The local expert who takes him on a seafood excursion is at the other end of the spectrum, doing it for the sheer pleasure of finding something that other people do not even realize is there.
And, it is also a love story...
I recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about urban ADVENTURES that anyone can have if they take the time to look around and actually SEE what is there if one just bothers to take some extra time. I wish that I was still physically capable of doing some of these things but age and arthritis forbid it. Meanwhile I can enjoy the experiences of writers like Bill Heavey vicariously through his evocative writing.
Edited by andiesenji, 27 May 2013 - 07:31 PM.