I stand in front of the meat counter looking down at all the shrink-wrapped, Styrofoam platters of meat . . . other shoppers, their carts laden with frozen dinners, ketchup, peanut butter and laundry soap, move in and around me. I am glued to the stained and dirty white tile, shifting from one foot . . . and then to the other whenever someone reaches around me for a package . . . tossing it into a cart with the speed of a Christie’s auctioneer selling a rare painting . . .
And as I view row after row of shrink-wrap and Styrofoam, it hits me . . . there was a huge disconnect with what I was buying and cooking at home and where this meat comes from, how is it raised . . . do I care about these things? Should I care about these things? And it was with that mind-set that I began reading Georgia Pellegrini’s new book, Girl Hunter.
Georgia had her own watershed moment while working at the famous Blue Hill at Stone Barns where she killed her first turkey; that single moment would forever change her life and placed Georgia on a path where she not only learns how to hunt, but four years later, she has grown into a different person. Written like great poetry, Girl Hunter is a gorgeous memoir; words which have rhythm and cadence . . . at times, her words move along with the speed of dangerous and high waters . . . and other times a gentle and lazy river. But it’s these final words in the epilogue that form a lump in my throat and I find myself blinking back tears:
‘It was more amazing than the irreplaceable meals, the incomparable vistas, the fine cigars and scotch, the almond cakes and gourmet chocolates, because now I am more awake than I ever was when working in fast-paced four-star kitchens, or on a high-pitched trading floor. It is as if I have realized again those first pleasures I knew sitting beside my creek in the Hudson Valley, watching the orange fishing bobbin float by under the willow tree. I am a more thoughtful eater, a more thoughtful chef, and a more awake human being . . .’
To be a thoughtful eater and a more awake human being . . . can there be a better aspiration than this? I am not a hunter, but I am grateful for women like Georgia . . . women who are fearless in their quest for answers, who gut it out blood, sweat and tears and take us along on the journey.
I love this book so much that I am giving away copies to 3 readers – who will also be entered to ‘Win A Trip To Alaska With Me’ contest over on Georgia’s site. Simply ‘like’ Smith Bites on Facebook, come back here and leave me a comment telling me you did; if you already ‘like’ me, that counts too – just make sure to leave a comment here in the section below – do not leave comments on Facebook or your entry won’t count. And please make sure you leave your email addy on the comment form (don’t leave it in the comment section as we value your privacy.) We’ll announce the winners here on Friday at noon EST.