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The Raw and the Cooked: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand [Paperback]

Jim Harrison
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 17 2002
Jim Harrison is one of this country's most beloved writers, a muscular, brilliantly economic stylist with a salty wisdom. For more than twenty years, he has also been writing some of the best essays on food around, now collected in a volume that caused the Santa Fe New Mexican to exclaim: "To read this book is to come away convinced that Harrison is a flat-out genius -- one who devours life with intensity, living it roughly and full-scale, then distills his experiences into passionate, opinionated prose. Food, in this context, is more than food: It is a metaphor for life." From his legendary Smart and Esquire columns, to present-day pieces including a correspondence with French gourmet Gerard Oberle, fabulous pieces on food in France and America for Men's Journal and a paean to the humble meatball, The Raw and the Cooked is a nine-course meal that will satisfy every appetite.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Jim Harrison's The Raw and the Cooked extols our profound (and precarious) relationship to what we eat, and to the natural world. Compiled from the author's much-loved Esquire, Smart, and Men's Journal columns, the book offers charging personal panoramas in the guise of food essays. In pieces with titles like "Conscious Dining," "Hunger, Real and Unreal," and "Repulsion and Grace," Harrison--a kind of dharma bum cum foodie--takes his readers into realms of taste and feeling, spirit and body. "We are often like autistic children," he writes, "unable to connect experiences, especially if we want something interesting to eat." A Michigan "outlander," he nonetheless travels wide and can tell of the "tummy thrills" engendered by trips to restaurants like Manhattan's Babbo, meals planned and meals remembered. But the journeys he likes best involve hunting or foraging, his personal salves: "I arrived home in a palsied state," he writes. "To set the brakes, I wandered for hours in the woods looking for morels. At one point I wandered three hours to find four morels. I did however gather enough to cook our annual spring rite, a simple sauté of the mushrooms, wild leeks and sweetbreads."

A warning: Harrison can lick his spiritual wounds publicly for long stretches, and not all readers will find his swaggering muscularity to their taste. Those who follow him are, however, rewarded by contact with his passion and sly, world-colliding depictions: "The dinner was a mystical experience," he writes, "and as such you must live through it to fully understand the mysticality ... less apparent when I got up next morning in a driving rainstorm with the usual flooded freeways." --Arthur Boehm --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A rumination on the unholy trinity of sex, death and food, this long-awaited collection of gastronomic essays reads like the love child of M.F.K. Fisher and James Thorne on acid. Harrison poet, novelist and screenplay writer perhaps best known for Legends of the Fall and Just Before Dark writes with a passion for language equal to his passion for good food. His thick, muscular phrases tumble off the tongue: you can almost hear him sampling the language as deliberately as he does his French burgundies, and with as much genuine pleasure. The essays filled with sightings of big names (Jack Nicholson, Peter Matthiessen) take readers from meals in Harrison's homes in northern Michigan and New Mexico, to delicacies in New York, Los Angeles and Paris; Harrison's palate, while refined, is refreshingly earthy. He is a lover of duck thighs, pigs' feet, calves' brains, foie gras, confit, sweetbreads, game birds and mussels, served with exquisite wines and "shovels of garlic." Perhaps not surprisingly, Harrison also ruminates on gout, weight and indigestion. But to him, the trade-off is worth it: "Only through the diligent use of sex and, you guessed it, food," he writes, "can we further ourselves, hurling our puny `I ams' into the face of twenty billion years of mute, cosmic history. With every fanny glance or savory bite you are telling a stone to take a hike, a mountain that you are alive, a star that you exist." Equally recommended for the literary crowd and armchair cooks (although perhaps not for vegetarians).

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The idea is to eat well and not die from it-for the simple reason that that would be the end of your eating. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Down with Chicken Breast!! Sept. 2 2002
Jim Harrison walks in a world where people routinely stuff animals inside other animals, saute the sweetbreads to feed the cat, and routinely have soft-shell crab FedExed to their remote writerly outposts. This is evident from reading "the Raw and the Cooked", a collection of his food essays which appeared in Esquire and Men's Journal, among other barometers of male taste.
(...)Harrison is at his best detailing those hidden corners of America that are quickly vanishing from our contracting universe where new advances in cuisine are largely limited to colored ketchups. And we both decry the flavorless but universal boneless, skinless chicken breast kept on menus everywhere for its entirely unprovocative nature, usually presented with all the flare and originality of an Alvarado Strret whore. The lengths to which Harrison will go NOT to eat a boring meal are fun to read, as is his continually incongruous Republican bashing. His writing is as relevant to your life as you would like it to be.
Where Harrison gets off-target is in his frequent name dropping of business and personal associates. Do we really care that he's pals with Harrison Ford or has made moon-eyes across the table with Winona Ryder? Save that for tarpon fishing trips with Hunter Thompson and Jack Nicholoson. Also, some of the contents of his backwoods pantry seem a bit fantastic, especially for those of us who live 400 miles away from the nearest specialty grocer. Fresh serranos, ground chiltepins, dried posole, etc are all instantly at his fingertips whenever necessary for an impromptu midday snack. It does liven up his writing, however.
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3.0 out of 5 stars The pompous and the gluttonous July 3 2002
From the accounts of his massive consumption of all manner of artery-clogging fare, it's a wonder Harrison isn't morbidly obese. I thought I was food obsessed, but this guy takes the cake (no pun intended, because he probably would eschew cake in favor of a big plate of organ meats). He writes about chasing his hearty meals with more than one bottle of wine, craving hotdogs (and indulging that craving) after finishing what he considers a "light" lunch and the painful gout he surprisingly suffers from. Oh, and there are myriad references to meals with celebrities, from Orson Wells to Russell Crowe. Harrison thinks nothing of dropping hundreds for a good meal, the fond memory of which he thinks justifies the expense. This man is clearly in a much higher socio-economic bracket than myself.
That said, the writing is really top notch, if a bit tedious at times. Harrison truly celebrates our gustatory pleasures with abandon. However, I found myself to be quite "full" of Harrison about three-quarters of the way through the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full of himself--but great writing Aug. 12 2002
Harrison collects columns written for various publications between the years 1990 and 2000 and presents them in one handy volume. There is no doubting that Harrison loves to indulge himself with great food, great wine and great company. And he can tell a tale. Harrison is at his best when rhapsodizing about memorable meals and contemplating his existence in the universe. Harrison is at his worst when trying to impress the reader that despite living much of the year in the sticks of Upper Peninsula Michigan or borderlands Arizona--he is indeed a jet-set world traveler, who knows everyone (Hollywood, Paris, the Big Apple, Key West) and is quite a witty dinner companion (he kept Winona Ryder in stiches one evening). Ultimately, I found it best to put up with the occasional self ego masaaging boast in order to indulge in some superb food writing.
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5.0 out of 5 stars pure pleasure Jan. 4 2002
I cannot tell a lie. Harrison's poetry leaves me cold, and I find his fiction only marginally interesting at best, sexist at its worst. Having said this, however, the man writes essays like nobody else. Although eating is the ostensible subject here, this collection of previously published magazine articles is really about Harrison's roving intellect and far-ranging appetites. Here he writes about not just food and wine but also parses love, death, sex, hunting, fishing, politics, poetry, and the natural world (sometimes in a single four-page essay). Even if, like Harrison, you're not in the habit of eating grouse, woodcock, and the offal of various hooved and cloven animals, there is still much wit and wisom--soul food, if you will--in these pages.
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