Afield: A Chef's Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish by Jesse Griffiths is a cook's take on what to do with the meat and fish hunters and fishermen bring home. An avid outdoorsman himself, Griffiths has plenty of hands-on experience with every step of turning fish, duck, doves, rabbits, deer, and boars into delicious meals, which he shares here in beautiful and accessible detail. The recipes are appropriately simple in that they focus on the flavor of the fish or meat in question, but with plenty of great combinations and fresh takes to excite cooks of all levels. Lots of the recipes - for turkey, duck, fish, crab, and rabbit in particular - could be happily used by cooks with no intention of actually harvesting it themselves from anywhere but the butcher shop.
The book is part of a larger trend (highlighted in this excellent article "A New Breed of Hunter Shoots, Eats and Tells" in the New York Times) of people looking for that next level of connection to their food. To facing their dinner somewhat literally, and taking even more personal responsibility for the meat they eat.
I grew up eating ducks and pheasants my dad hunted. I have an incredibly clear memory of sitting with my extended family in my uncle's basement plucking ducks - my job, at 5, was to put the feathers into big cardboard boxes. To this day farmed duck - that is, all the duck you eat in restaurants - disappoints me every time, and I can't even bare to think about farmed pheasant when compared to the rich, deep yet somehow magically delicate flavor of the birds my dad gets walking cornfields. I buy the vast majority of the meat my family eats from a farm where the animals are allowed to live in pretty darn natural states. I do my best. Reading Afield makes me wonder, though, if perhaps, I should go another step. It's a book that made me think about heading out to the cornfields with my dad this fall.