An Opportunity To Be A Patron Of The Arts… Culinary Literature
October 5, 2015
Hank Shaw doesn’t just write cookbooks.
I mean, he does, of course. His most recent book, Duck, Duck, Goose is essentially just that, a cookbook for waterfowl. But his prose is not simply a collection of recipes and techniques… it’s often just damned good writing. And sometimes, as in his first effort, Hunt, Gather, Cook – Finding the Forgotten Feast, it goes way beyond the rote of cups and teaspoons to tell his story as you go.
For someone like me, who seldom uses cookbooks or recipes except as an occasional source of inspiration (I’m no great chef, I’m just too damned hard-headed to follow someone else’s directions), good writing is a must to get me past the prologue. I read all of Hank’s first book, and much of the second, just because it’s good reading.
But even if it were just cookbooks, they’re cookbooks for those of us who get our food from the woods, fields, and waterways. Sure, you can apply the recipes from Duck, Duck, Goose to a store-bought bird, but what Hank does in his work is address the unique considerations that apply to birds that haven’t been raised on a constant diet of corn and “duck chow”, and that live on the wing instead of in a pen. What’s more, he covers cooking the birds from one end to the other… from bill to butt, if you will. I think that’s a much needed reference these days, as more and more people discover the joys of eating wild and of making the most out of the animals we kill.
When Hank started sharing the word that he was working on a third book, Buck, Buck, Moose, a lot of folks took notice… including me. This time, he’d tackle venison, an often misunderstood and sometimes abused subject. Hunters and cooks around the world have been ruining this meat for ages… overcooking, drowning in strong marinade, or overwhelming it in bacon (a little bacon is good, occasionally, but when it completely obscures the wonderful flavor of prime meat… well, that’s just a damned shame). Also, as he did with the waterfowl book, he’ll look at preparing all of the animal, not just tenderloins, roasts, and sausage (although he’s a whiz at sausage and charcuterie).
I know there are other cookbooks out there with venison recipes. Some might even be good. I honestly couldn’t tell you because as I mentioned, I don’t generally read them. But I’m pretty sure that Hank’s book will be very good. I’m so sure, in fact, that I jumped in early on the KickStarter campaign he’s launched to fund the publication of the book.
Unfortunately, the big publishing houses don’t seem to think much of deer hunters or of books that will serve us. That’s a shame, but given the growth and strength of popular press, self-publishing is a solid option. And why put money in the coffers of the big corporations, even as they smile derisively down on us?
So, check it out. Then, kick in! You, too, can be a patron of the arts!