Serious Reads: Girl Hunter, by Georgia Pellegrini

Serious Reads

Reviews of food-themed memoirs, beach reads, and histories.

20111203reads.jpgWhen most of us try to improve our diet by eating more locally and sustainably, we start at the grocery store. But author Georgia Pellegrini goes right to the source. In her new book Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time, she details her experiences learning to hunt for her own food. Her travels across the country open her eyes to new communities, the terminology of firearms, and the strategy of hunting everything from doves to deer.

Pellegrini prefaces the book by explaining how Girl Hunter will give us insight into her transformation from a stilettos-wearing financial analyst to a down-and-dirty hunter. In truth, most of the book is spent detailing her hunting trips in the company of rough, experienced male hunters. She travels from Texas to Wyoming, from Montana to the Arkansas Delta, learning the tricks of lining up a rifle and silently stalking a deer. Her companions drink whiskey and eat tuna sandwiches during long days in the woods, slowly accepting her into their ranks of respected hunters.

Pellegrini has a deep respect for nature, which is evident in her description of learning to skin and butcher freshly killed game without wasting any edible or usable parts. She shares the sadness of a missed shot, of knowing that one has inflicted suffering on a wild animal. She views hunting as a means of connecting with her meal, and as a valuable part of a sustainable diet. Rarely, if at all, does she entertain vegetarianism; for her, hunting is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

The only qualm I had with this book was that Pellegrini spent little time talking about how she felt as a woman participating in a male-dominated recreation. She sets up an expectation of a gender discussion with the title of the book and in some of her preliminary comments about her formerly urban lifestyle. I ended up preferring a narrative free of rumpled skirts, dirty fingernails, or insecurity—Pellegrini dives into the hunter lifestyle without any hesitation. But I would have loved to have heard more personal reflection on the many situations in which she was the only woman for acres.

Pellegrini's first book, Food Heroes, describes individuals and organizations doing unique food work (and was one of my very first reviews!). She follows a similarly personal style in this book, focusing on the people and communities that sustain themselves through hunting. Additionally, each chapter is followed up by funky recipes to make the most out of your next hunting excursion. If Pellegrini inspires you to pick up a gun and head to the woods, you'll be well-equipped with recipes for quail kebabs, curried pigeon, and elk jerky.

About the Author: A student in Providence, Rhode Island, Leah Douglas loves learning about, talking about, reading about, and consuming food. Her work is also featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine.