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First Look: Afield by Austin Butcher Jesse Griffiths, With Andrew Zimmern's Foreword

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[Photos: Paula Forbes / Eater.com, From Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Jesse Griffiths. Welcome Books. Text © 2012 Jesse Griffiths. Photographs © 2012 Jody Horton.]

Here's Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Austin, Texas butcher/chef/man of the outdoors Jesse Griffiths, out September 18 from Welcome books (pre-order on Amazon). Griffiths takes readers out into the field to hunt, trap, fish, field dress and butcher all many of beasts. Step one of field dressing large game? Remove the penis. Yow.

While the book may not be everything you need to get from hunting neophyte to gun-strapped outdoorsperson (there are generally, you know, licenses involved), it will be enough to pique the interest of the hunting-inclined. Also, you may learn a thing or two about frying tiny birds, turning out catfish terrines, or whipping up a batch of squirrel 'n dumplings. Here's the foreword to the book by Bizarre Foods host and expert in odd meats, Andrew Zimmern:

Andrew Zimmern's Foreword to Afield

For thousands of years a man was measured in simple terms. Honor and hard work gave him the respect of his peers and status in his community. Over the last century, we have seen that change. Impermanence of lifestyles, class privilege determined solely on wealth, the cultish narcissism of the age of celebrity, and the diminished returns on achievement—these societal woes have all contributed to a cultural standard that our grandparents, who knew that the reward was in the doing, wouldn't recognize. Good or bad, it's a fact. In an age where the world is changing so quickly, in our disposable culture, the ability to pause and put some space between what we think we want and what we decide to do is one of our greatest necessities. Which is why I sought out Jesse Griffiths one day a few years back on a trip to Austin, Texas. Here was a man living a life that is supremely of the moment, his professional code of conduct couldn't be more fitting with everything that is right about food in America. And more importantly his "way of doing" provides thought leadership and actionable pursuits.

Instinctively we realize that we live in an age where we no longer just want to see recipes with bacon in it, we want to know how to cure the bacon ourselves. So here
was a chef who not only was providing us with those answers, he was educating us about lifestyle choices that go beyond the gold standard.

Jesse leads by example. We can talk all we want about sustainability, traditional food arts, great cooking, locally sourced foods, and every other neutered catch phrase of the modern food world, but we need heroes who are willing to show us by doing, not by talking. Jesse is that kind of guy, and trust me they are rare and precious. He is a tireless worker, who hunts and fishes, appreciates our great outdoors, understands the importance of what we need to preserve in our cultural heritage, and translates it for the modern age—is there anything more important? That he chooses to do it in the food space is just the icing on the cake for someone like me.

Nothing is more important, or timely, in the search for a solution to the breakdown to our global systemic food system than the thorough study, reimagining, and ongoing education of Americans on the subject of hunting, fishing, and cooking as an inseparable triptych. If some of our modernist ideas are failing, if production and mechanization compromise our health and well being, if you are curious at all about pursuing solutions instead of tilting at windmills, then you will want to understand fully a food system that is economically, culturally, and environmentally sustainable. Jesse understands at a grassroots level what it takes to live truthfully, in a meaningful way that is deeply felt and personal. He doesn't speak in sound bites or create lifestyle choices with a publicist. He lives and works in accordance with his own principles and that is what I admire about him
the most. The benefit we all have is that we can learn from inspiring leaders like Jesse, and act locally while thinking globally. For me the appeal of his book is that it is approachable and engaging for us all.

For those committed to big ideas, or simply for a way to have more fun in the field and in the kitchen, this is a must read. The outdoors-person's approach to food has worked?does work?and will always work, and within its ideology are practical ways that anyone interested in changing their world one delicious plate at a time will want to learn about. Slowing down the food systems we sped up, solving our food-health issues, and preserving the best practices of our lost generations are all attainable by living the hunting-cooking lifestyle. At the end of the day, this is an inspiring collection of stories from the field, replete with 85 recipes that are as delicious as they are fascinating to page through.

Anyone who loves food will enjoy this book. The magic, and why I think Afield is a special work, is that it fully portrays a way of living and thinking that allows us to return to a more simple way to be measured and respected. And it does so without lecturing or pandering. It reminds me that by living a more principled life, I can make my world a better place and I can use food and cooking to do it. This book is a beautiful piece of work, and after you read it, and cook from it, please get outside and get dirty with it. Wherever you are, the great outdoors is waiting for you, afield.

Andrew Zimmern's foreword to Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish. From Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Jesse Griffiths. Welcome Books. Text © 2012 Jesse Griffiths. Photographs © 2012 Jody Horton. Foreword © 2012 Andrew Zimmern. www.welcomebooks.com/afield

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