THE RAW AND THE COOKED: Adventures of a Roving Gourmand

Jim Harrison, Author . Grove $26 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1698-7

A rumination on the unholy trinity of sex, death and food, this long-awaited collection of gastronomic essays reads like the love child of M.F.K. Fisher and James Thorne—on acid. Harrison—poet, novelist and screenplay writer perhaps best known for Legends of the Fall and Just Before Dark—writes with a passion for language equal to his passion for good food. His thick, muscular phrases tumble off the tongue: you can almost hear him sampling the language as deliberately as he does his French burgundies, and with as much genuine pleasure. The essays —filled with sightings of big names (Jack Nicholson, Peter Matthiessen)—take readers from meals in Harrison's homes in northern Michigan and New Mexico, to delicacies in New York, Los Angeles and Paris; Harrison's palate, while refined, is refreshingly earthy. He is a lover of duck thighs, pigs' feet, calves' brains, foie gras, confit, sweetbreads, game birds and mussels, served with exquisite wines and "shovels of garlic." Perhaps not surprisingly, Harrison also ruminates on gout, weight and indigestion. But to him, the trade-off is worth it: "Only through the diligent use of sex and, you guessed it, food," he writes, "can we further ourselves, hurling our puny 'I ams' into the face of twenty billion years of mute, cosmic history. With every fanny glance or savory bite you are telling a stone to take a hike, a mountain that you are alive, a star that you exist." Equally recommended for the literary crowd and armchair cooks (although perhaps not for vegetarians). (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
Genre: Nonfiction
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