Book Review: “It’s Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It” by Bill Heavey

It's only slow food until you eat itOn Christmas day I unwrapped a book given to me by my wife. She is aware of a few writers I particularly enjoy, such as Pat McManus, the Apostle Paul, and Dr. Suess, so every now and then I receive a book for a gift that has more than just pictures. Somewhere in my list of favorite writers fits Bill Heavey, editor at large for Field and Stream. For years now (I’m too lazy to figure out how many), Heavey’s column has graced the last page of Field and Stream and is the first page I flip too each time a new issue shows up in the mailbox. He has a unique writing style that blends humor and sarcasm while coming across deeply personal at times. I like it.

The book is titled, “It’s Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It: Misadventures of a Suburban Hunter-Gatherer”. It’s good and worth the money my wife spent on it. In the book, Heavey tells the story of how he learned to forage for food in the suburbs of Washington D.C. Not only does he learn how to catch certain fish (apparently the majority of the fish in the Potomac River shouldn’t be eaten) and look for edible domesticated weeds in his and others backyards, he also learns how to cook them. At the end of each chapter he shares a recipe to go along with each food item that I’ll probably never try.

Even though I found the book to be slow at times, it is still inspiring. If a rookie forager like Heavey can find edible food items spread throughout a suburb of D.C. it makes me wonder what I often overlook in rural Vermont where I live. Maybe I’ll invite him up to teach me a thing or to. I will say this, it inspired me to forage through my mother-in-law’s freezer the other night to see if I’d overlooked anything edible in my previous trips to it. Turns out I had – there was a beautiful looking unopened carton of Breyers chocolate ice cream waiting for someone like me to discover it. And discover it I did.

I’m only halfway through the book at this point. Why review a book if I am only halfway through it? Good question, but the way I figure, if a book is good enough to keep my attention to the halfway point then it’ll be good enough for me to want to finish it. Therefore, it’s worth recommending. Don’t believe me? Check out some of these other reviews I found on www.goodreads.com:

“His section on the arctic was especially interesting.” – Penelope Allen.

“Very Interesting.” – Debra

With stunning reviews like that who wouldn’t want to buy this book?

Seriously, with half of the book left I am really looking forward to my plane trip home tomorrow. According to star reviewer Penelope Allen, Heavey makes a trip to the Arctic at some point which she apparently found especially interesting. I wonder if he will bring along his foraging guru and friend Paula Smith? Or perhaps he’ll use what he learns on the trip to deepen his budding relationship with Michelle. I’m not one for reading romance, but there is something real about a guy trying to piece parts of his life back together after a difficult season that makes a book hard to put down.

The only downside to the book is the number of times the F-word is used. I understand that his friend Paula has a mouth like a sailor, but I’d prefer to not read the word so often – though I still wouldn’t mind hanging out with her. She sounds like a real hoot and could teach me the best way to steal unpicked cherries off a bush in someone’s front yard. I guess stealing cherries makes for a much better tasting pie. That story and the tale about the garden squirrel are my favorites so far, though I admit Penelope’s excitement over his trip to the arctic has me stoked for the second half of the book.

Tim FaceI bet sales on this book are about to explode, which will be nice for Bill because he wrote it back in 2013. He probably wishes I’d done this sooner. No doubt my review alongside the likes of Steven Rinella, The Wall Street Journal, and Penelope Allen would have been the spark he desperately needed to get sales off the ground sooner. Sorry for being late to the review party Bill, but you’re welcome at the same time. 

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