Harvest is that kind of book.
When I find a book like that, I want to share it.
In Harvest, acclaimed writer Max Watman tells his quest to stock his pantry with real and delicious food.
To do so, Watman ventures in a number of food-related projects and experiments, as he tries to live closer to the source of his food and to the land.
He resolves to hunt, fish, bake, butcher, preserve, and pickle.
He buys a steer — named Bubbles — raises chickens, grows crops, and works to create the ultimate pantry.
All does not go as planned: his Brooklyn backyard is invaded by a defiant raccoon that methodically attacks his beloved hens — "the girls" as he calls them; his carefully crafted Camembert resembles a chalky hockey puck; and for one moment it seems as if he's lost Bubbles.
Watman perseveres and there are moment of redemption: such watching a flock of pheasants fly overhead while hunting (a surprisingly beautiful chapter); successfully harvesting his garden; eating fritters of foraged periwinkles and seawater risotto; or making a tub of perfectly crunchy kimchi.
Watman is a fantastic writer with a great spirit and sense of humor.
The story is filled with anecdotes both insightful and at times moving, one almost fails to realize he is being instructed.
The breadth of his knowledge is impressive — effortlessly intertwining culinary expertise, literature, and history sprinkled with a bit of music and geography.
What I like most about him is that he never tells the reader to become a locavore or that he must only eat organic, farmer's market food. Instead he tells to abandon those labels in favor of good taste and to enjoy the quest.
It’s hard not to love a guy like that and to love this book.