The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine

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Paperback, 309 pages.

A combination memoir, cookbook, and travelogue describes one man's efforts to live on the land while attempting to re-create the recipes from Escoffier's 1903 magnum opus Le Guide Culinaire and searching for the frequently esoteric ingredients called for in the various dishes. 

When outdoorsman, avid hunter, and nature writer Steven Rinella stumbles upon Auguste Escoffier’s 1903 milestone Le Guide Culinaire, he’s inspired to assemble an unusual feast: a forty-five-course meal born entirely of Escoffier’s esoteric wild game recipes. Over the course of one unforgettable year, he steadily procures his ingredients—fishing for stingrays in Florida, hunting mountain goats in Alaska, flying to Michigan to obtain a fifteen-pound snapping turtle—and encountering one colorful character after another. And as he introduces his vegetarian girlfriend to a huntsman’s lifestyle, Rinella must also come to terms with the loss of his lifelong mentor—his father. An absorbing account of one man’s relationship with family, friends, food, and the natural world, The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine is a rollicking tale of the American wild and its spoils.

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banquet chosen from master chef Escoffier's classic 1903 Le Guide Culinaire, now considered (by most people) an exotic historical document rather than a working cookbook.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.
Praise for The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine
 “If Jack Kerouac had hung out with Julia Child instead of Neal Cassady, this book might have been written fifty years ago. . . . Steven Rinella brings bohemian flair and flashes of poetic sensibility to his picaresque tale of a man, a cookbook, and the culinary open road.”The Wall Street Journal
“A walk on the wild side of hunting and gathering, sure to repel a few professional food sissies but attract many more with its sheer in-your-face energy and fine storytelling.”—Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall

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