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A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand
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A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  73 reviews
New York Times bestselling author Jim Harrison was one of this country’s most beloved writers, a muscular, brilliantly economic stylist with a salty wisdom. He also wrote some of the best essays on food around, earning praise as “the poet laureate of appetite” (Dallas Morning News). A Really Big Lunch, to be published on the one-year anniversary of Harrison’s death, collec ...more
Hardcover, 275 pages
Published March 24th 2017 by Grove Press
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  382 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A Really Big Lunch is different from any book I've read. Even though Harrison writes well and I found myself turning the pages rather than taking a break, the menu was most unusual and even seemed disgusting at times. I'm not into eating snake, but I still enjoyed reading about his food adventures. This book definitely opened up my mind to new perspectives.

Harrison's belief is simple: Quality of life is more important than quantity and food is one of the ultimate pleasures. Life's short, better
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
UGH! Pretentious beyond anything I've read in about 5 years. And I LOVE his novels, too.

From the Introduction by Mario Bartoli, it was NOT at ALL what I expected.

Honestly, he passed away in 2016. And if he would have lived another year or two- I wonder if some of these "sensibilities" would have come home to roost. As it has with some of his story buddies. The kind of crowd the "me too" women attack presently.

The way he talks in related past conversations with his buddies about women in general
Apr 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I’m in the midst of this, and deciding if I want to continue. Jim Harrison, novelist, short-story writer, poet, and his stuff is good. And I’m interested in food. Sounded like a winner. Ha. All it’s made me do is dislike the guy. Name-dropper. And then I ate this and then I ate that, no descriptions worth salt. Oh, and do try these fabulous expensive wines that nobody can afford.
M. Sarki
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-wonders

…Hundreds warned me I was going to die young from smoking and drinking but I disappointed them…

I was thirty-one when I first discovered Harrison’s best writer friend Thomas McGuane back in 1984. There was an article in the Detroit Free Press magazine that dealt with McGuane’s recovery from alcohol addiction and the publication of his new book Something to Be Desired. The next year would find me as well beginning my own recovery from addiction. Religious an
Matthew Quann
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, non-fiction
It's kind of a shame I didn't end up enjoying Jim Harrison's essay collection as much as I had hoped. All the same, you shouldn't let my star reading deter you since it is an opinion on the collection as a whole and there's many great essays to be read from this delightful scoundrel.

This one was recommended by a friend and, I believe, partially motivated by our shared love of good food and Netflix food documentaries. Indeed, I had sort of hoped that this book was going to be a tour of great res
Jan 08, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
The Goodreads description of this refers to the author's voice as "salty". Is that the polite term for "asshole"? And I don't mean the bit that he expects to offend "certain of your left-leaning, spit-dribbling, eco-freak readers" (well, of course that's offensive - because he intended it to be) so much as what he said after. Just about every word I read of the little bit I read was repulsive. Because he intended it to be. The New York Times and other publications actually licked this excrescenc ...more
Diane Barnes
Mar 27, 2018 marked it as don-t-want-to-finish
Bored. Cutting my losses. No rating.
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
How does someone write a book, including numerous words that I've never seen before, and not sound pretentious doing so?! For the answer, you need only check out Harrison's writing. I really enjoyed reading this collection of essays, talking about food, wine, the great outdoors, and living life to the fullest. Looking forward to reading more from the author.

(I think my favorite new word from this book is desuetude, meaning a state of disuse, as in "Your desuetude repels me.")
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An enormously enjoyable read. Knowing nothing about Jim Harrison going in, other than that he wrote Legends of the Fall, a Brad Pitt movie I barely remember (and which Jim H. calls a lousy movie based on a great book), I wanted to read this book because I love food, and so does Jim Harrison. What I got were wonderful and fascinating essays about food, yes. But also the rich musings of a masterful writer on life-- his own and life in general -- sorrow, aging, love, lust, gluttony, wine, books, pe ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh, I loved the writing of Jim Harrison and he is sorely missed in this world. I'm reading this book slowly and quickly, alternately delving deeply (reading a word at a time, a chapter at a time) and browsing (reading a paragraph or a sentence, then flipping to examine the photographs, then flipping and reading again). I think it helps me let go. This man lived so big in his life -- reading what he writes makes me re-look, see again, listen closely, inhale deeply, notice the touch of the smalles ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There was a time when Harrison was my favorite contemporary author of fiction. Often misunderstood as being too full of machismo he was, in fact, a champion of strong women while mocking his male protagonists for their false manliness and chauvanism. I lost interest in his fiction when his themes felt repetitious to me. And his poetry never grabbed me.

However, this collection of non-fiction writings is Harrison in peak form. Never pulling any punches, it is certainly the most quotable of his wor
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jim Harrison lived as he wrote, vividly. When his overtaxed heart finally gave out last year, he left the world with an amazing collections of books including Legends of the Fall, among many.
A Really Big Lunch is a compilation of the authors nonpolitically correct meditations on food, wine, writing, and aging. I probably would have given this book five stars if I shared even a small iota of the author's passion for wine.
Although Harrison is genius in his knowledge of all things fish and fowl, h
I picked up this book because I am interested in food and wine and I had heard that Harrison was a good writer. The book also seemed to be a refreshing antidote to the current American obsession (at least in some circles) of denying oneself all culinary pleasures - in particular, gluten, sugar, dairy and alcohol.

Indeed, Harrison is at the opposite end of the self-denial and discipline spectrum. The quantity and content of what this guy ate is astounding: buffalo tongues, head cheese, wild pig ri
Joanne  Clarke Gunter
Jim Harrison was such a great writer. And such a great lover of life and good food and great wine and close friends. It is most unfortunate that there will be no more books written by him.
Richard Canale
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
a refreshing collection of his essays on his pursuits of pleasure and gluttony. As the reader follows the inevitable demise of his body to age and high living, Harrison has no regret.
Jackie O'callaghan
Aug 16, 2018 rated it did not like it
Pretentious, Irresponsible and Disgusting.
Feb 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
In addition to being a poet and novel writer, Jim Harrison was a voracious eater and drinker with a passion for food and wine. For many years, he wrote articles and columns about his culinary adventures including the title piece about a 37-course lunch he enjoyed in France (he is quick to point out there were only 19 wines). Now gathered together, these pieces, often filled with humor and passion, are a celebration of a literary life, of poetry, food, and wine.

[I received an advanced e-galley of
Matt Hooper
Aug 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"I have gout, high blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and severe kidney stones. I have also had some success that I have learned to view as a disease."

Jim Harrison published his first novel during the Nixon administration -- and yet the first I heard of him was while watching a decade-old episode of Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations."

Shot in Montana, where Jim lived during the temperate part of the year, the episode stood out in my observation for the reason that Bourdain seemed genuinely in awe
Monica Tomasello
I had a love-hate relationship with this book. I didn't really enjoy reading it or even like Harrison's writing style, but I must admit that he was an interesting character and I highlighted more quotes in any book than I have since my college days.
May 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Can a book be loud and obnoxious?
This book is more about gluttony and drunkenness than about food and wine.
Allison Floyd
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Not since H. L. Mencken have I stumbled upon a contrarian whose use of language has the power to render one giddy....
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I miss Jim Harrison; he died of old age in 2016. Best known for his fiction, though he published numerous books of poetry, some essays, a memoir, and for a while made big bucks in Hollywood writing screen plays. He is a native of Michigan, a former student of Michigan State University, a long-time resident of Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, an Upper Peninsula cabin owner, and during his last twenty-five years divided time between Pantagonia, Arizona and Livingston, Montana during the warmer month ...more
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, essays
I read this book because my dad loves Jim Harrison as an author, and I wanted to read this book before I gifted it to him for Christmas. I've read one or two of Harrison's works before (again, on the recommendation of Dad) and was surprised to find this book of his essays on food far more lively than I remember his narrative style being. Turns out Harrison himself is quite a character: a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps salt-of-the-earth who also manages to be arrogant, cantankerous and a bit ...more
Luke Johnson
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just finished A Really Big Lunch, a book I very much enjoyed, though I think I may be in too much of a rush to put my thoughts down on electronic paper. This book is a collection of essay's by the well known author/poet Jim Harrison perhaps best known for his novella Legends of the Fall (though Brad Pitt is more famous for it than Harrison is.) All the essay's revolve around the central theme of food and because each chapter is it's own writing, instead of a cohesive book, it is highly repetit ...more
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays, favorites, food, nf, cpl
Pour yourself a bottle of wine and savor these short, outrageous essays written over the past 30-odd years. Quite without anyone knowing--unless you happened to be a subscriber to Brick literary magazine, the Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant newsletter, or similarly obscure publications during this time--Jim Harrison single-handedly, and *admirably* I must say, reset the bar for connoisseurs of gluttony year-in and year-out.

I learned so much from reading this book, among them: 1) there is nowhere near
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
First of all, how could you not like a book that includes an essay describing a 37-course, 11 hour lunch, that the author travelled to France to enjoy with a group of fellow gourmands? The author's fame is due to the popularity of his book, "Legends of the Fall" though he has published a ton of other novels, poetry and essay collections. This book is a collection of his essays and I was captivated by his passion for eating, drinking, and living.

This book is not for vegetarians because the autho
Girl Underground
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Awesomely written. Writing about food without having to describe the food--leave that for hundreds of thousands of food bloggers who give us recipes but don't tell us what the final result will taste like.

“I make countless aesthetic decisions when composing a novel but am far less comfortable making critiques of the work of others. With wine it is especially difficult because you must approach the bottle at the level of the vintner’s intentions, just as it is pointless to say that Stephen King
Sandeep Bedadala
Mar 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
May be it's too early for me to give up on Jim Harrison.
I don't particularly follow a chronological order in reading an author's work but may be I should have done that with Jim Harrison. This book seems like an old man's comic rant about his past. While what he describes might be utterly honest, it lacks any emotion for me to give a shit about. I picked up this one after loving his poetry work Songs of Unreason and was excited to find his writing on food but what a waste this was. In one of the
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: food
An exceptional collection of Harrison's meditations on food, wine, writing and living, all of which are necessarily intertwined. He has wide ranging opinions on food and its preparation and consumption, from the pedantic (no Californian wine allowed) to the practical (cocaine after dinner, never before) to the idiosyncratic (buy garlic only in odd numbers). He also has a wry sense of humor and a mastery of language that makes these essays a joy to read. Look for cameos from luminaries such as Hu ...more
Ben Myhre
Jan 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great collection of essays if you are into food. I am already starting to follow up with another foodie book from Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters... night and day.

This guy is a master painter, while Alice, although a great restauranter, seems to be dictating black and white Crayola drawings. I am sure I will get to the good stuff about Chez Panisse, but I am not sure she is gonna be capable of drawing the vivid pictures into my head like Harrison. He made me laugh out loud several ti
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Goodreads Librari...: Please combine 2 14 Feb 13, 2018 02:07PM  
  • Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray
  • Best Food Writing
  • Eat Live Love Die: Selected Essays
  • Hungry: What Eighty Ravenous Guys Taught Me about Life, Love, and the Power of Good Food
  • The Gourmands' Way: Six Americans in Paris and the Birth of a New Gastronomy
  • Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate
  • The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat
  • American Food Writing: an Anthology: With Classic Recipes
  • Endless Feasts: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet
  • The Best American Essays 2009
  • Honey from a Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia
  • The Best American Essays 2008
  • France is a Feast: The Photographic Journey of Paul and Julia Child
  • American Terroir: Savoring the Flavors of Our Woods, Waters, and Fields
  • The Interior Circuit: A Mexico City Chronicle
  • Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff
  • God Laughs & Plays; Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right
  • All Gates Open: The Story of Can
Jim Harrison was born in Grayling, Michigan, to Winfield Sprague Harrison, a county agricultural agent, and Norma Olivia (Wahlgren) Harrison, both avid readers. He married Linda King in 1959 with whom he has two daughters.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

His awards include National Academy of Arts grants
“This sentence cribbed from the back of a cereal box (organic flax and raisin bran) is not the less poignant for its source.” 0 likes
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