By David E. Petzal
This morning, I learned that the politically correct term for “hungry, starving, etc.” is “food insecure.” It will take weeks to get over that, if I ever do. But in any event, I shall now take time out from flinging lead at all points of the compass in the hopes of hitting something to review a pair of standout books.
"It’s Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It" is an odd and unclassifiable book by the odd and unclassifiable Bill Heavey. The publishers of Slow Food offered Mr. Heavey money if he would feed himself by foraging—everything from dandelion greens to persimmons that fell from a Washington, D.C. tree and had lain on the sidewalk for quite some time to things so rank and gross in nature that I cannot list them here, and then write about it.
Bill’s quest took him from Washington to San Francisco to Louisiana, and along the way he met the real subject of the book, which is not so much food as the people who forage as a way of life. No matter what Heavey writes about, he ends up with people, and if you have any literary acumen you’ll recall that this is what Bill Tarrant and Robert Ruark did as well. There is some hunting here, and some fishing, and quite a bit of information on food, and some fine-sounding recipes, but Slow Food is irresistible because it’s very funny and very sad and filled with unforgettable characters. Heavey is a strange and repellant character, but he writes like hell. Oh, and if you want to make a salad out of the stuff that grows in your lawn, watch out for dogs**t. $25, Atlantic Monthly Press.