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The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  470 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
A combination memoir, cookbook, and travelogue describes one man's efforts to live on the land while attempting to re-create the recipes from Escoffier's 1903 magnum opus Le Guide Culinaire and searching for the frequently esoteric ingredients cal
Title: The Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine
Author: Rinella, Steven
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: 2007/03/14
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 14th 2007 by Miramax (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Melissa
May 22, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: foodies and outdoorsy types
Shelves: food
I'm only 25 pages in, but I just finished the chapter in which Rinella describes bringing his vegetarian girlfriend Diana home to meet his family. Initially, he was too embarrassed/ashamed/whatever to tell his father about Diana's lifestyle choice, so when his father baits up a hook and hands it to Diana, who Rinella describes as getting "panicky" at the thought of killing a fish, he does nothing. Diana, uncomfortable about offending her boyfriend's father ten minutes after meeting him, proceeds ...more
Felisa Rosa
Jun 18, 2009 Felisa Rosa rated it really liked it
An avid hunter and fisherman stumbles across Le Guide Culinaire, the masterwork of the legendary French chef Augueste Escoffier, who cooked for Kaiser Wilhelm II, the Duke of Orleans, Queen Victoria, and the Shah of Persia. In reading through the recipes he notices that scads of the required wild ingredients are no longer available for purchase, so he decides to scavenge their American equivalents and prepare and elaborate feast for his friends and hunting buddies.
The Scavenger's Guide to Haute
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Mark Gaulding
Dec 27, 2008 Mark Gaulding rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. This is one of the top three books I've read this year (2008). Rinella is a remarkable writer. The book is full of humor and occasional sadness/melancholy. But it is always compelling. I am not a hunter nor do I really support hunting. After reading this book I will have to rethink my strict liberal perspective about hunting. Although it does graphically discuss killing it was never gratuitous and surprisingly didn't ever upset or repulse me. The book is also remarkable in the ...more
Chelan
Oct 03, 2008 Chelan rated it really liked it
I love this book. I think Rinella provide great prospective and insight on hunting, conservation and food.
Wade
Oct 15, 2016 Wade rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I liked the author's adventures hunting and collecting game and other ingredients for the ultimate 45 course french dinner party (though the slight air of pretentiousness that introduced the book was a little off putting). Along the way we meet great characters; Floyd Van Ert the sparrow trapper, Ray Turner the Eel Man, friends Mark and Pooder and others. His exploits searching for frogs, snapping turtles and pigeons were great. “When I climbed up the ladder and got to the ledge [in the alley be ...more
Tripp
Feb 22, 2010 Tripp rated it it was amazing
After I gushed about Steven Rinella's American Buffalo, the wonderful Citizen Reader said the book was good and all, but I should really read the Scavenger's Guide to Haute Cuisine. Well that surprised me as I thought it would be tough to top Buffalo.

Having now read the earlier Scavenger, I can see where she is coming from. I won't say I think it is better overall, as I think the books are both so good it is hard to say which is better, but it is built better in certain ways.

Buffalo is about Rin
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Sandy D.
Interesting, but a bit uneven. This young guy who grew up in Michigan with a bunch of brothers (in family that does a lot of hunting and fishing) gets a copy of Escoffier's encyclopedic classic to French cuisine - Le Guide Culinaire (published in 1903). After a bad job making snapping turtle soup, he decides he needs to cook a feast using Escoffier's recipes and meats he has collected and hunted himself, with some help from friends.

A huge variety of foods were used then - weird organs that get t
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Maria
Jul 19, 2010 Maria rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Field and Stream meets Julie and Julia. Rinella sets himself a goal of hunting and fishing for the ingredients of a grand feast based on Escoffier's Guide Cuilinaire; the book is the story of his outdoor excursions, and his encounters with assorted folks who have devoted their lives to the pursuit of sparrow-trapping, eel-smoking, or subsistence fishing. The actual cooking given short shrift, which is disappointing, but probably for the best in terms of the overall length and flow of the book.

Ri
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Thorn
May 24, 2008 Thorn rated it it was ok
i had expected more from this book, but they dealt thoroughly with all of the good parts on npr -- which is what motivated me to read it. sometimes there's better stuff in a book that they don't get around to talking about. not really the case here. i was disappointed to learn that part of rinella's goal in undertaking the 'project' was that he was trying to omni-(or carni-?)vore-ize his then-girlfriend, who was a vegetarian. i'm not a vegetarian at all -- not even close. i can even say that, ha ...more
Eldan Goldenberg
Dec 07, 2008 Eldan Goldenberg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who would rather live to eat than eat to live
It's not often that I read books about cooking. It's even rarer that I read "manly" books about going out into the wilds and hunting elk and bear. Yet this somehow managed to be both of these things and quite wonderful.

The premise is simple: man who likes to hunt and forage (but disdains showily macho hunter culture and is just a tad hippy) discovers a vintage French cookbook that is Wagnerian in its ambition and Biblical in its influence, and decides to put on a 3-day feast with a total of 21 r
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Steven Coberly
This is a very entertaining and easy-to-read book. The author walks you through his attempt to create a three-day-long feast based on the recipes from a 100+ year old cookbook featuring all sorts of things you would never think to eat - sparrow, adolescent pigeon, ray, etc. The writing is done. Some other interesting people appear, but there is not much in the way of deep characterization. There are no deep morals or lessons to be drawn from the book. But it did impress three points on me. First ...more
Camas
Oct 24, 2007 Camas rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-writing
I know I'm hard to please but, as with Extremely Pale Rose, I found the premise far more enjoyable than the telling. Rinella , a hunter/fisherman who usually writes for outdoor magazines, comes upon Escoffier's tome and decides to make a huge meal for his friends composed entirely of food he's caught/killed/slaughtered/dressed himself. There's a lot of self-important babble about needing to know where your food comes from which, on the whole, I agree with, but nonetheless found a bit trying afte ...more
D. B.
Aug 12, 2008 D. B. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Rinella, a writer for Outside magazine and a devoted hunter and environmentalist(yes, you can be both), chronicles his year-long mission to cook a forty-five course meal from a hundred-year-old cookbook called Le Guide Culinare, which details such ignored delicacies as pigeon, stingray, sparrow, goat, snapping turtle, and other critters normally not labeled for common human consumption.

This is, firstly, an odd book for a vegetarian like me to be reading. It is also, in spite of an initial glance
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Lillian
Mar 28, 2007 Lillian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hunters, gatherers, cooks
I heard this book reviewed on NPR and was instantly curious.

The author grew up in a subsistence-hunting household in which all game meat was subjected to the same culinary treatment: an industrial deep-fat-fryer with it's own shed. At some point in his young adult life he was given a copy of Le Guide Culinaire by Auguste Escoffier, which he soon came to realize contained recipes for all sorts of game animals and their oddest bits. Inspired, he set of on a year mission to hunt and gather the ing
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Becki Iverson
May 30, 2013 Becki Iverson rated it really liked it
"Scavenger" is a fascinating hodgepodge of styles and subjects. Rinella swiftly bats between encyclopedic hunting knowledge and stories and the intricate world of haute cuisine. The mix, in an age where few people even know what their food originally looks like, let alone kill it themselves, is bizarre but interesting.

The one element keeping this from being an excellent book is the style - it clearly lacks some judicious editing (particularly with some overwrought hunting scenes) and is a bit t
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Justine
Aug 25, 2010 Justine rated it really liked it
An educational and entertaining read for the inner hunter-gatherer inside us all. I learned much more about hunting than I ever thought I would. Steven is able to weave in personal stories with his hunting expeditions with the ease of a great story-teller -- someone that has probably told many a story by a campfire with friends.

Some parts of the book did lag for me since it wasn't like there was a huge climax to the story -- the are mini climaxes in each chapter as he hunts or gathers each "ing
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Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym)
Feb 04, 2010 Sue Bridehead (A Pseudonym) rated it it was ok
Shelves: food
I picked this up randomly off the library's "Something for Everyone" shelf. It's not a book you read for the quality of the writing, but several of the chapters are interesting if you enjoy learning about hunting and fishing techniques and the oddball people who may specialize in procuring strange game for resale. The chapter on the guy in Upstate New York who captures and smokes eel is particularly nifty.

Also an interesting look at how far our culture has drifted from a natural way of eating.

O
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Levi
Feb 28, 2016 Levi rated it it was amazing
This book is great. Steve Rinella is a fantastic story teller, giving detail in all the right places and leaving out bits that might bore or gross readers out. This is not only a book about food, or simply a memoir, but to me, a reflection on how important food is for people, their memories and their enjoyment of meals, adventures and the sharing of moments with people.

While procuring the items needed for his 3 day Haute Cuisine meal he mets interesting people and spends time with friends doing
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Maria Headley
Aug 27, 2007 Maria Headley rated it it was amazing
It's so great when you make a new friend and then the friend also turns out to be a terrific writer. This book is seriously funny - the sequence of attempting to breed pigeons completely cracks me up, and it's also educational. I don't eat meat. Haven't for a long time - and so my knowledge of the ways of meat and what various cuts are, etc, is pretty damn limited. This book taught me a bunch of things about eating, cooking, and foraging for fascinating things in the wilds of...everywhere, inclu ...more
Bpaul
Feb 13, 2014 Bpaul rated it really liked it
Rinella is a surprisingly good writer. I expected something a little more pedestrian, writing-wise, but his descriptions were compelling and he knows how to spin a yarn. I've found that writers with a background in journalism can sometimes have a fantastic sense of timing and pace when writing longer pieces of non-fiction (thinking of Charles Bowden, specifically).

I've said that foraging and hunting/gathering food, then cooking excellent meals with it, is one of my life's passions. So of course
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Keelan
Sep 23, 2013 Keelan rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Lots of esoteric information about food preparation, hunting, fishing, etc. I especially liked how Rinella wrote mini-biographies of many of the characters who helped him out during his quest to obtain by hand the ingredients necessary to make several dishes from Escoffier's "Guide Culinaire". Through those, we learn, for example, a little bit about why someone would devote thier lives to making old-fashioned stone eel weirs by hand, or what motivates someone to design sparrow ...more
De
Feb 04, 2010 De rated it liked it
This is why I'm not afraid to eat every part of an animal. It's all food and you honor the animal when you eat all of it. Snap out of that stupid mindset that says all food must be processed, packaged, bloodless and vacu packed. Ridiculous! There's nothing better than a fresh fish any day of the week. We should be able to recognize and find our own food outside of the crapmarket. It got funnier as I went along and got used to the author's voice but the end got a little skimpy when he prepared th ...more
Abigail
Feb 15, 2010 Abigail rated it really liked it
Usually, I give my husband books to read, but this was one he gave to me to read, and I completely understand why. Rinella's trek to collect strange and rare fish, fowl, and game and butcher it all himself to prepare delicacies for his friends and family is my husband's personal idea of paradise. Rinella's irreverent style that skips no nasty little detail is not for the faint-of-heart, but it's one of those rare books that is a quick read while at the same time encouraging some serious thought ...more
Patrick Cauldwell
Jul 25, 2011 Patrick Cauldwell rated it it was amazing
A very fun read about a very resourceful gentleman. :) I wish my job was to wander the countryside collecting interesting food animals and then making haute cuisine dishes out of them.

As much as the whole setup for the book is a Julie & Julia style, contrived reason to write a book, this one is pretty appealing. Steven sets out to procure enough wild food to make a 45 dish, 3 day extravaganza from Escoffier. Along the way he meets some fascinating characters and has adventures both mundane
...more
Shayne Flaherty
Oct 16, 2014 Shayne Flaherty rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all time. Its a little ditty about this cookbook he found with all these bizarre recipes and he decided he would collect, hunt, (and raise) the ingredients and have this grand dinner with all of his hunting buddies. As I read my own description the book sounds pretty fucking lame but I assure you it isn't. Its certainly on the manly tip, but if you like food and how humans are so intricately connected to that which we consume, you will like it.
Ryan
Jan 06, 2014 Ryan rated it it was amazing
Without question, one of the best books I've read in a very long while. Rinella nailed it with good writing, perfect organization, and a telling story. He entertained; he educated; he took us along with him. Though many times I wanted to be in his shoes, not once did I feel any sense of superiority that he was having these once-in-a-lifetime moments well-knowing that 99.9% of everyone else in the world would not. Well done, Mr. Rinella.
Keith
Dec 23, 2013 Keith rated it it was amazing
Steven's voice is very clear -- I "hear" the writer like a narrator, which probably accounts for why I read so slowly. (However, I retain way more of what I read than folks who read 2-3 times faster.) After seeing his MeatEater show, it is super-easy to hear him reading this book. His stories of gathering the various ingredients for an Escoffier feast are deeply entertaining, and his commitment and respect for the systems that he is a part of is compelling and very affecting. Great read!
Dave
Jan 07, 2008 Dave rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I thought the book was going to be about someone going around the globe eating haute cuisine as different cultures see it. I'm glad it wasn't that book. The real thing was much better. If you're a staunch vegetarian, maybe not the book for you, but I enjoyed the stories of hunting for various ingredients. Makes me want to try elk.
Will Keightley
Feb 11, 2012 Will Keightley rated it it was amazing
I thought I was a hunter-gatherer because I dug into the pile of kale at Whole Foods to find the best bunch. Rinella's quest to make a 43-course feast out of Escoffier's "Guide Culinaire" using only food he's procured himself is a fascinating juxtaposition of frontier resourcefulness and haute sensibilities. Fascinating.
Mary
Mar 03, 2009 Mary rated it it was amazing
As a woman who lives in Eastern Montana and hunts AND is interested in what my friends term "weird food", this book was right up my alley. I love the hunt. And the added benefit was reading about Miles City, where Steve was based while writing the book. I know EXACTLY where he went to get that darn pigeon!

Can't wait to read more from Rinella.
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