Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast

We enter an edible world every time we step outside our doors. It is local, seasonal, sustainable and for Hank Shaw, wild.

Shaw, former restaurant cook, journalist and author of the IACP 2010 and 2011 award winning blog, Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, challenges us to open our senses and pay attention to the bounty of nature and the food that exists all around us to be foraged, hunted and fished.

Shaw's recently released book is a field guide for the forager, fisher and hunter, a treatise on our hunter- gatherer natures, and a cookbook offering tips and recipes to prepare and cook ingredients found in field, stream and even our own backyard. Shaw learned to fish from his mother and developed a love and curiosity for the natural world from both his parents leading to a life time of exploring whatever environment he lived in and extracting its sustenance. He shares his experiences, the lessons learned, and a contagious excitement for a lifestyle based on finding and preparing his food.

Get news about a feast at Rancho Pinot after the jump....

The first section of the book, "Foraging from Coast to Coast," is filled with relatable memories of the taste of just picked berries on a trail or making root beer from sassafras roots for anyone who attended scout camp. The section explains how to find wild greens, berries, nuts, fruits and flowers and how to transform them into edible dishes, syrups, flour and wine.

The fishing and hunting sections each begin with an explanation of why-why fish, why hunt? Shaw demonstrates his sensitivity for those who may regard foraging a culinary adventure yet shrink at the thought of killing for food for either moral or aesthetic reasons. Both fishing and hunting Shaw points out "gives us a sense of self-sufficiency, a sense of honesty, and a clear-eyed understanding of exactly where our meat comes from." He traces the human evolution from scavenger to hunter and in both sections continues to describe his sense of place in and respect for the natural world.

Shaw uses every edible part of a fish or animal, and his interest in neglected or less used species show up in the recipe sections, A Little Tongue (braised tongue of deer or lamb on a bed of wild greens) or Blowfish Teriyaki, provide further inspiration and guidance to those already avid anglers and hunters. Recipes in all 3 sections include more common substitutions (chestnuts for acorns, beef for moose) making them user friendly for those not on the hunt.

On Wednesday, June 8th, Shaw is teaming up with Chef Chrysa Robertson at Rancho Pinot in Paradise Valley for a Foraged Dinner. 

Robertson has not met Hank face to face, but through their correspondence and Chrysa's reading of the book she recognizes in Hank a soul that shares the same view of food. "I am familiar with many of the ingredients listed in the book, and I have also found new ingredients I want to work with" she says. Cholla buds and yucca blooms are two ingredients Robertson plans to begin to forage -- and incorporate into her cooking.

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Carol Blonder