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The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine

Outside Writer Steven Rinella has a "Killer" Time on the Culinary Road
by Steven Rinella

The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine: Outside Writer Steven Rinella has a "Killer" Time on the Culinary Road

Even in your wildest culinary dreams, you probably don’t find yourself stuffing a duck into an antelope’s bladder, gutting road kill or raising street pigeons for slaughter to make pigeonneaux crapaudine for dinner. Outside writer Steven Rinella did all that and more after becoming obsessed with the 100-year-old haute cuisine oeuvre Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier. In an attempt to recreate a three-day, 45-course feast à la Escoffier, he realizes that most of the ingredients called for in the tome are not readily available, so Rinella must hunt, kill, scavenge and skin them himself.

The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine chronicles his year-long quest to procure the often bizarre but required animal parts, aided by his vegetarian girlfriend, his brothers and some of his hunting buddies who know how to wield a hatchet. The prose is often brutally raw but there is poetry in the language and a deep respect for nature shines through Rinella’s writing. It reminds us of why Hemingway was such an astute—if underestimated—food writer. Scavenger's Guide is more than an account of the bizarre; it brings us back to the source of the very things that sustain us, what drives us—from the flesh of an animal, to unconditional love (Rinella writes compellingly about his father’s death), to having a vision.

Reviewed by Sylvie Greil

(Published: 04/03/06)
(Updated: 12/24/08 SB)

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