The Scavenger’s Guide to Huate Cuisine is the first book written by author and outdoorsman Steven Rinella. In the book Rinella details his quest to procure, by his own hand, all of the ingredients necessary to create a 3 day feast from Le Guide Culinare written by Georges Auguste Escoffier. The catch? Most of the ingredients required to make the recipes contained in the Le Guide are no longer readily available on American grocery shelves or food markets. The vast majorities of the ingredients are what we would now widely consider “wild game” and are not sold in stores. In order to get these ingredients, he will have to get them himself.
Rinella, and avid hunter and fisherman will not let this stop him and he begins a journey that will take him to locales across the country, including both the continental and non-continental United States. The recipes that Rinella is attempting to make in the Scavenger’s Guide include some strange ingredients such as squab (a flightless baby pigeon), snapping turtle, and mule deer, but also more familiar ingredients like wild pacific cod. Some of the trips to obtain said ingredients include trekking through the foothills of the Rockies in Montana, treacherous sea kayaking in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Washington, and some really funny instances of climbing ladders to the pigeon nests underneath thruway overpasses.
Along the way Rinella also meets some rather interesting characters. These include his wife, then a vegetarian, and strange man who is particularly adept at capturing English Sparrows, purely out of love for the Eastern Bluebird, duh. The culmination of this quest is the actual preparation and cooking of the 3 day, over 45 course, feast which Rinella creates and shares with his family and close friends. He details the processes that go into the preparation of the collected ingredients and their use in particular dishes with great, sometimes gruesome detail. The actual consumption of that feast and all of the success and failure of the dishes included is a great point of silliness and all involved are forced to push their personal boundaries in some way. Not all the guests love every dish and the descriptiveness of Rinella’s prose in the Scavenger’s Guide brings you into the dining room with them to share in the often hilarious events of the feast. With witty prose and a sharp researchers eye Rinella’s first novel is a great read for the outdoorsy type, those interested in different food, or anyone looking into attempting to procure their own food as it is both fun and informative.
I know that while reading and long after finishing the Scavenger’s Guide I had a renewed sense of wanting to be self-reliant and take ownership and command of procuring my own food, even if not too the extent that Rinella had and does. Specifically, I would attribute the reading of this book to my love affair with fishing and my starting the process to get my hunting license and go hunting for the first time. While this book was originally somewhat hard to find, Rinella recently reacquired full rights to his first book and he has just re-released the book digitally and is now available on all Ebook platforms as well as in physical form. This memoir/travelogue/cookbook is a great read and I highly recommend it to anybody who loves the outdoors or has any curiosity about providing for themselves by way of their own two hands. You can also check Steve out on his TV shows “Meat Eater” and “The Wild Within” or as a frequent guest on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
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