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on September 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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on August 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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on January 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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on December 1, 2001
i've been a huge fan of jim harrison for years. i first learned of him when i discovered his "the raw and the cooked" column in esquire way back when. i branched out and read all of his books but kept wishing he would do more writing about food and the joy of food (i love to cook). this book is great, it reminds me of why i am a chef and why i can spend hours in the kitchen only to have my creations wolfed down in minutes. it also reminds me of a quote (attributable to harrison?) about how the midwest still considers overeating a virtue.
there is nothing better than surf and turf created from fresh venison and crab cakes chased w/an excellent cabernet. jim harrision writes about food w/a passion that any chef would appreciate.
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on January 9, 2003
Harrison will make you laugh outloud with his views on our society. He does, however, make some very serious points and not all is in jest. He shows that you can't write about food without touching on all aspects of our lives as human beings.
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on December 30, 2013
I thought I was ordering a cookbook, but enjoyed reading it just the same. He is a great, thought provoking writer
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on October 4, 2016
A great read for an outdoorsman or foodie too bad he has passed.
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on 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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on September 24, 2003
Jim Harrison is a pretentious fop who needs to hang with real life for a little while.
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