By now, you have received news of the passing of Jim Harrison, one of the world’s finest authors and legendary gourmand. If you’ve haven’t heard of Harrison’s death at his writing desk at age 78, or, God forbid, don’t know who Jim Harrison is, stop reading now for there is nothing I can do to save your soul. For the rest of us, I offer a few of his quotes about food I have scribbled down over years of reading Harrison’s vast library of novels and essays.
Once I prepared a quail for an actress of some note who doubled as a vegetarian. She was appalled after dinner to discover she had eating a living thing. “Not after it was shot and plucked and roasted at four hundred degrees for twenty-three minutes,” I offered, suspecting Quaaludes.
The idea is to eat well and not die from it—for the simple reason that that would be the end of your eating. At age fifty that means I have to keep a cholesterol count down around 170. There is abundant dreariness in even the smallest health detail. Skip butter and desserts and toss all the obvious fat to your bird dogs.
Picture yourself waking on a Sunday morning with a terminal hangover and perhaps a nosebleed, though the latter has fallen from favor. You have a late-afternoon assignation with a fashion model you don’t want to disappoint with the shakes and vomiting rather than love. Just eat a couple bowls of menudo sprinkled with chopped cilantro and scallions, wild Sonoran chiltepins, and a squeeze of lemon. The results are guaranteed by the tripe cartel, which has not yet been a victim of arbitrage.
We weren’t exactly saving up for the big one when the few guests begin to arrive the following evening. The cautionary note was something Jack Nicholson had said to me more than a decade ago after I had overfed a group in his home: “Only in the Midwest is overeating still considered an act of heroism.”
Life is too short for me to approach a meal with the mincing steps of a Japanese prostitute.