Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fat of the Land

I am fortunate to live in the Pacific Northwest, a place of extraordinary beauty and bounty. It is a forager's dream. However, I am not a particularly avid hunter and gatherer, unless we're talking about visiting the local PCC or Metropolitan Market.

But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in the delicacies to be found in the local forests and icy waters of Puget Sound. I am. I just don't want to be the person who hikes, camps and dives to get those wonderful foods. So I am grateful there are people like Langdon Cook, who are willing to do the hunting and gathering and then write about it so I can enjoy the adventure vicariously.

Cook's book, Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager, takes us on a culinary journey, as he collects his favorite foods in season throughout the year. Each chapter takes us on a new adventure, from diving for ling cod to hunting for edible mushrooms. He is an engaging writer, combining history, science and a few good recipes in such a way that you feel like you've been on the hike or dive with him. And then had the pleasure of eating the treasures he collected.

Here you will find stories about gathering fern "fiddle heads,"the origins of at least a dozen types of oysters, jigging for squid, sharing huckleberries with bears, identifying edible mushrooms, and much more. At the end of each chapter is a recipe, featuring that chapter's foraged food. If you find, as I did, that after reading the book you want to know more about Cook's adventures, you can keep current by following his blog.

It is amusing to me that this book about the ancient practices of hunting and gathering is available for download to your Kindle. What a world we live in!