Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food
"Delves into not only what we eat around the world, but what we once ate and what we have lost since then." --A New York Times Book Review Summer Reading Selection
"A memorable, genre-defying work that blends anthropology and adventure.--Elizabeth Kolbert, New York Times-bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction
Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was foraged, hunted, or caught in the wild. Today, so-called "wild foods" are becoming expensive luxuries, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. Meanwhile, people who depend on wild foods for survival and sustenance find their lives forever changed as new markets and roads invade the world's last untamed landscapes.
In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva embarks on a global culinary adventure to trace our relationship to wild foods. Throughout her travels, La Cerva reflects on how colonialism and the extinction crisis have impacted wild spaces, and reveals what we sacrifice when we domesticate our foods --including biodiversity, Indigenous and women's knowledge, a vital connection to nature, and delicious flavors. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, La Cerva investigates the violent "bush meat" trade, tracking elicit delicacies from the rainforests of the Congo Basin to the dinner tables of Europe. In a Danish cemetery, she forages for wild onions with the esteemed staff of Noma. In Sweden--after saying goodbye to a man known only as The Hunter--La Cerva smuggles freshly-caught game meat home to New York in her suitcase, for a feast of "heartbreak moose."
Thoughtful, ambitious, and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today, and introduces an exciting new voice in food journalism.
"A food book with a truly original take." --Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling author of Salt: A World History
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About the Author
Gina Rae La Cerva is a geographer, environmental anthropologist, and award-winning writer who has traveled extensively to research a variety of environmental and food-related topics. A National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow, La Cerva holds a Master of Environmental Science from Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge. She splits her time between New Mexico and New York, NY.
"La Cerva's beautifully written narrative is as tantalizing as it is edifying."
--Publishers Weekly ★ review
"It is rare these days to find a food book with a truly original take on food. Feasting Wild gives you a great deal to think about and at the same time is a pleasure to read."
--Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling author of Salmon: A Fish, the Earth, and the History of Their Common Fate and Salt: A World History
"An extraordinary book. My mouth watered, my mind expanded, and my heart broke and was remade through this superb writing."
--David George Haskell, author of Pulitzer finalist The Forest Unseen
"This is the food book I've always wanted to read--a witty, illuminating, and beautifully written travelogue that rightly centers the historical role of women and the importance of Indigenous knowledge. Throw away the trite faux-wisdom of dietitians and gorge yourself instead on the charming platter that Gina Rae La Cerva has served up."
--Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes
"By turns lyrical, melancholy, and invigorating, Feasting Wild is an enthralling and necessary meditation on what it means to love the feral in a world increasingly of our making."
--Taras Grescoe, author of Possess the Air, Straphanger, and Bottomfeeder
"Eloquent and utterly original. Page after page I savored the thrill of a sentence driving home a surprising new way to think about the world."
--George Johnson, author of The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments
"Feasting Wild is a rich literary banquet, its pages a smorgasbord of intrepid travelogue, unflinching memoir, and keen ecological history. Where the worldviews of Cheryl Strayed and Michael Pollan converge, you'll find this perspective, big-hearted, beautifully crafted book."
--Ben Goldfarb, author of Eager: The surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter
"La Cerva demonstrates her ability for diligent observation, and [...] offers glimpses of human activities that have grown increasingly rare."
"A curious, passionate, and beautifully poetic book. La Cerva uncovers something essential about our enduring desire for wildness in a world where it is rapidly vanishing."
--James Prosek, artist and author of Trout: An Illustarted History
"Gina Rae La Cerva is a modern-day hunter-gatherer, scouring the planet to bring us delicious stories and lessons about our world. Her writing is original and thought-provoking, and even though it's not always palatable how we've transformed our native flora and fauna, her adventurous storytelling is endlessly satisfying."
--Daniel Stone, author of The Food Explorer
"Gina Rae La Cerva's engrossing book celebrates wild-harvested food but also mourns it, showing how plentiful staples have dwindled time and again to overexploited luxuries. Mixing memoir, travelogue, and environmental history, Feasting Wild is a lyrical and lucid exploration of hunger and fulfillment, richly detailed and beautifully told."
--Thor Hanson, author of Buzz and The Triumph of Seeds
"[La Cerva's] writing pulls together personal narrative and research in a way that is not only accessible, but intensely revealing, taking us back through time, across oceans and land, and impressing upon us all that is lost when we forgo or commodify wildness."
--Madison Cruz, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI