Sunday, September 26, 2010

Steal This Cookbook

As one might guess from Lexi's anecdote about going mushroom hunting with her mom in recent weeks, both of us come from families with rich culinary traditions. Food for us is as much an experience as it is simple nourishment, beginning with the hunt for and selection of ingredients and ending with the last bite of a gastronomic gala. (Somebody else gets to do the dishes.) Family recipes come from a variety of sources: word of mouth, personal invention, international travels, and, of course, cookbooks.

A couple of weekends ago I made a visit to the family vacation house, where I found one of my grandmother's old cookbook treasures: the ninth printing of the 1950 edition of Gourmet Magazine's Gourmet Cookbook. (See picture.)

Many of the recipes are standard classics: a Caesar salad recipe that's the genuine article, all the mother sauces (with many of their daughters), basic consomme recipes, and so on. But there was one section in particular which moved me enough to abscond with the cookbook and bring it home with me on indefinite loan. From page 447:
The glossy black bear and the great brown bear enjoy vegetables, berries, fruit, and honey, as well as more carnal entrees, and bear flesh is rich, sweet, and delicious. It must be hung and marinated. After this treatment, bear may be cooked like beef steer, except that the neck and hindquarters are too muscular for good eating.
This is something of a novel food idea for me, since I come from a family of farmers, not hunters. I married into a family of hunters, but they don't seem to have gone after bear (they focused mostly on deer, elk, mountain goat, and the like). The next four recipes in the book are for Bear Huntsman Style, Bear Steak Alexandre I, Bear Leg in Red Wine, and Bear Stew in Burgundy. I've eaten a few game animals in my day, but never had the chance to sample bear.

But now, if someone shows up at a get-together with a haunch of bear meat, I'll know how to prepare it. Smokey better watch out.

1 comment:

  1. This book is utterly amazing. some of the recipes are just mouth watering and others will make you die happy. I can't wait to get to kooking....