It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer

It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer

4.5 2
by Bill Heavey
     
 

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“Mr. Heavey takes us back to the joys—and occasional pitfalls—of the humble edibles around us, and his conclusions ring true.”—Wall Street Journal

Longtime Field&Stream contributor Bill Heavey has become the magazine’s most popular voice by writing for sportsmen with more enthusiasm than skill. In hisSee more details below

Overview

“Mr. Heavey takes us back to the joys—and occasional pitfalls—of the humble edibles around us, and his conclusions ring true.”—Wall Street Journal

Longtime Field&Stream contributor Bill Heavey has become the magazine’s most popular voice by writing for sportsmen with more enthusiasm than skill. In his first full-length book, Heavey chronicles his attempts to “eat wild,” seeing how much of his own food he can hunt, fish, grow, and forage.

But Heavey is not your typical hunter-gatherer. Living inside the D.C. Beltway, and a single dad to a twelve-year-old daughter with an aversion to “nature food,” he’s almost completely ignorant of gardening and foraging. Incensed at the squirrels destroying his tomatoes, he is driven to rodent murder—by arrow. Along the way, Heavey is guided by a number of unlikely teachers, from the eccentric Paula, who runs an under-the-table bait business, to Michelle, an attractive single mom unselfconsciously devoted to eating locally. To the delight of his readers and the embarrassment of his daughter, he suffers blood loss, humiliation, and learns, as he puts it, that “‘edible’ is not to be confused with ‘tasty.’”

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Longtime Field & Stream contributor Heavey leads a delightful romp through the backwoods and front yards of the D.C. Beltway area as he tries to eat wild. He notes that his adventure "was anything but radical. For most of our history, eating wild was what people did." Heavey's no expert, and read-ing about his stumbles through harvesting a salad from his lawn or learning to gut perch ("It looked like the bedroom scene from Macbeth") is surprisingly both amusing and touching. Perhaps this is be-cause Heavey has a gift for capturing the people around him: his skeptical young daughter; his ex-tremely competent foodie girlfriend; and especially his friend Paula, a live-off-the-land expert and "about as eccentric as you could get and still be on the right side of crazy," who takes him to harvest sour cherries right in the middle of the nation's capital. Heavey doesn't shy away from the potentially off-putting extremes of locavore living: he hunts, fishes, and even catches frogs, and his book is en-gaging, thoughtful, and truly funny. (May)
From the Publisher

“Locavores can be tiresome with their insistence on sourcing (and discussing) everything they put in their precious little mouths. Bill Heavey ran the risk of being a bore in his account of attempting to hunt, fish, grow or forage as much of his food as possible, It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It, but escaped thanks to good humor, poking fun at hard-core foodies and himself while still finding merit in the movement. . . . Mr. Heavey takes us back to the joys—and occasional pitfalls—of the humble edibles around us, and his conclusions ring true. The finest things I ever ate, wandering the East Coast with rod and gun for 30 years, were the most local . . . Mr. Heavey reaffirms the value of things small and common that were once treasured but that we now walk by without a passing glance: persimmons, cattails, giant mushrooms, squirrels, morels, dandelions, wild cherries, frogs, crawfish and the whitetail deer that occasionally wander through backyards—at their peril, if it's Mr. Heavey's lawn.”—Wall Street Journal

“Heavey’s bumbling attempts at self-sufficiency are a winning mixture of compelling and hilarious.”—Modern Farmer

“There is much to like about Bill Heavey’s latest book. In it, Heavey, editor-at-large and back page columnist for Field & Stream magazine, follows a sometimes difficult, often challenging, and occasionally humorous path to eating wild. . . . The book is an enjoyable read, funny without being cute and thought-provoking without an overbearing teacher-to-student tone. If you’re not already a Heavey fan, this will likely turn you into one.”—Courier-Journal (Louisville)

“A humorous tale about a subject that’s often taken too seriously.”—Grubstreet

“An engaging autobiography/ersatz primer on how to (or not to) undertake subsistence living in an urban environment. While this title is chock full of facts about nature and industrialized foodways, it’s also a story about friendship and falling in love. VERDICT: Laced with tart humor and spiked with moments of sentimentality, this work makes for a compelling read.”—Library Journal

“Brilliant and incisive. . . . It’s Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It is gently thrilling and endlessly emblematic of the chaotic way people evolved to become what they are now. The thing about life is that on your way to the hunt, you never know what you’ll gather.”—The VC Reporter

“Heavey tells a tale in which a totally normal dude gets a wild hair up his ass about growing, hunting, and foraging for his own food. The trouble—and the delight—is where he lives; not Idaho or someplace rural, but rather inside Washington D.C.’s Beltway. The result is a hilarious and super instructive book . . . Heavey’s experience writing for magazines obviously taught him how to master the skill of keeping the reader’s attention. His dry hilarity on everything from rototilling to the rarely-seen but abundant monkeyface eel marks, makes this book something special.”—Library Journal

"If Bill Heavey felt like it, he could write a book about something as boring as shuffleboard and it'd turn out to be good. He's just that sharp and funny. But thankfully, in It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It, he chooses to write about things that are close to my heart, such as hunting, fishing, and wild food. Whether he's hanging out with trendy foragers in San Francisco or butchering caribou with indigenous hunter-gatherers in Alaska, he relates his experiences with respect, curiosity, and well-honed humor. Not only is this book perfect for anyone who loves food or the out-of-doors; it's perfect for anyone who loves a good story, well-told."—Steven Rinella, author of The Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine, Meat Eater, and American Buffalo

“Bill Heavey is the convivial and erudite hunting/fishing/foraging/trespassing partner you never had—and just as well, because he generally returns from the 'wild' (backyard, park, and—yes—cemetery) bloodied and reeking. His entertaining yet sneakily informative tales will have you rolling in the thistle.”—William Alexander, author of The $64 Tomato

“This is a tale of a leap into the deep-end of extreme foodieism—clumsy, bold, courageous, hilarious, honest, and touching. Bill wrote an onion. The first layer is a funny, witty adventure story. Peel it back, and we'll find leaf upon leaf of how-to, coming-of-age, consumerist criticism, cultural discovery, plights real and imagined, and ultimately, a love story. Bill has given us all permission to not only discover a new facet of our edible lives, but to enjoy it.”—Duff Goldman, Ace of Cakes

“The age-old art of foraging takes Bill Heavey from his back yard to a Louisiana swamp and points beyond. But this is not a tale of trendy tablefare. With a healthy dose of skepticism, a dollop of humor, and even a dash of romance, Heavey transforms the typical ingredients of midlife crisis into a surprising feast of renewal, finding true sustenance in nature's garden.”—Langdon Cook, author of Fat of the Land

“A book with many layers, it’s refreshingly untrendy, and it’s narrated with great humor and honesty.”—PopMatters

Library Journal
Claiming that he's made a career of writing for Field and Stream and other similarly outdoorsy publications out of "ignorance and incompetence…my forte," Heavey spins a yarn of how, armed mainly with enthusiasm and a refusal to admit when he was licked, he took up hunting and foraging in the Beltway. A chatty tale of all the plants, animals, and people he encountered, this book is mostly set in and around the Washington, DC, area but also chronicles trips made hither and yon: fishing for smelt in San Francisco, frog grabbing in the Louisiana swampland, and hunting caribou above the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Although each chapter ends with a recipe of sorts, Heavey is mostly cooking up an engaging autobiography/ersatz primer on how to (or not to) undertake subsistence living in an urban environment. While this title is chock-full of facts about nature and industrialized foodways, it's also a story about friendship and falling in love. VERDICT Laced with tart humor and spiked with moments of sentimentality, this work makes for a compelling read.—Courtney Greene, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
Kirkus Reviews
In which an inside-the-Beltway type goes all Euell Gibbons on us--and doesn't starve to death and even finds true love in the bargain. Granted, Heavey isn't your typical D.C. commuter: A freelance writer, he hunts, fishes and contributes columns and pieces to magazines such as Field & Stream, Outside, and Men's Journal on hook-and-bullet subjects--though, as he describes it, he is blessed with more enthusiasm than art. Here, he describes, as both literary project and life hacking, his efforts to live closer to the land, lessening his reliance on grocery stores and big carbon footprints in favor of heading out into the world to gather baskets full of goodies. His travels, sad to say, require big carbon footprints, as he jets off to the Arctic and the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico. What he brings back, apart from mushrooms, serviceberries and wild rice, are stories of how people of all sorts have gone back to the land, some out of necessity and custom, others by choice. One neighbor, for instance, is a combat veteran who has mastered the flora of the region, a solid candidate for survival come the apocalypse. (And apocalypse, meltdown and the end of civilization are never far from some of these back-to-the-landers' thoughts.) Heavey describes himself as "not the most likely guy to write a book about food," a matter he skirts around by writing about many things other than food. However, he does provide some useful recipes for dishes such as boiled ground squirrel, fried perch and sautéed dandelion greens (to be found in lawns and parks, with the proviso, "What you're trying to do is avoid herbicides"). Really an overblown magazine article, lightly and pleasantly enough written, though without the depth of like-minded projects by Bill Bryson, Jim Harrison and others.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802193483
Publisher:
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
315,110
File size:
2 MB

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