I was first introduced to Steven Rinella's writing by a fellow chef and friend who had recently read his first work, The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine. It was an easy read due to its intriguing content – the author tries to replicate an elaborate, classical French meal with only proteins he can personally forage – and it made a great intro for his following books, American Buffalo and Meat Eater.
Meat Eater is a terse, profound treatise on modern and ancient hunting. Rinella's blunt, casual style lends an appropriate realism to something that many people are now re-evaluating: the killing of wild animals for food. His personal history – starting from hunting deer with his father to trapping professionally to moving beyond catch-and-release fishing to his now iconic status as a modern hunter – is chronicled, along with the transitions that he undertakes. His writing covers the youthful wonder, the adolescent boundary-pushing and abuse ("I was an asshole"), and the maturation of his idealogical stance as someone who is profoundly comfortable with hunting and blessed with the ability to convey the why of it. Rinella is a true hunter – one who spends days, weeks afield in situations that demand the killing of something just to survive long enough to kill his actual quarry. To a hunter who mostly goes on day trips, this reads beautifully and romantically, but without pomp and posture. It is the real deal, and it inspires.
Meat Eater isn't written to win over those on the fence about hunting, though hearing Rinella speak to a challenging vegan on his book tour (www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2N0Utg7KYE), you can hear his voice, literally; he is intelligent, witty, and peaceful in his defense of violence. Read this book as an adventure. The stories of laborious hunts in Alaska and dangerous wades in pursuit of Steelhead are enthralling and real. His candid approach to dealing death and its inherent repercussions make this a required read for modern food theory, whether you partake or not.
"Eat, Shoot, Love: Hunting and Gathering," with Rinella, Griffiths, and Lily Raff McCaulou, is in the Texas House Chamber from 12:15-1:15pm on Sunday.
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