Your dinner last night was delicious. The salad was crispy and fresh, with all the right additions and your favorite dressing. There was the slightest tease of a comfort-food memory from the main dish, which was created with a mini-bite of spice nipping your tongue. And the side dishes? You had seconds of those, followed by dessert that must’ve been made by angels.
So where did it all come from? To say “a restaurant” or “the grocery store” is cheating, especially after you’ve read Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini.
One day not long ago, after looking up from the trading floor of a Wall Street firm and wondering how she got there, Georgia Pellegrini suddenly knew that a life in finance was not where she belonged. Determined to “nourish [her] soul again,” she set out to become a chef.
Still, there was something missing. She was working at a high-end restaurant, serving the same people she had formerly toiled beside, but pretension marred her job, presentation was more important than nutrition, and food was being wasted.
Then the head chef gave her an “unusual order:” she was told to slaughter five turkeys for the evening’s dinner. The experience opened her eyes to a part of her that she never knew existed, and sent her on a journey far away from the meat aisle in the grocery store.
“Is it possible to eat only the meat that you kill?” she asked.
Pellegrini’s first answer came in the Arkansas Delta where she joined silver-haired men at a hunting camp they called the Village. They were out for turkeys then, and after a quick tutorial on guns, Pellegrini bagged two gobblers with one shot. Later, she hunted there for doves, deer, and wild boar.
In Texas, she shot a javelina, then had to explain to airport security why she was toting “frozen animal parts” in her luggage. She hunted for grouse in Montana, and spent an edgy week with a rancher in Wyoming who wasn’t who he said he was. She missed “harvesting” axis deer in Texas, traveled to England for a “social hunt,” to New Orleans for ducks, and to upstate New York to hunt squirrel.
“I… have looked my food in the eye and made a choice…” says Pellegrini. “It was all amazing.”
Think life’s best spent gun-toting in wilds, woods, or weeds? Then you’re going to love this thoughtful, meaningful, surprisingly gentle book.
With a poet’s eye toward a conscious dinner, Pellegrini takes her readers on a search, not just for wild game but for what she calls a “primal part” of one’s being. I couldn’t stop reading as Pellegrini dug into this foray with gusto and blood, which gives her book an occasional Lord of the Flies feel that’s usually abutted by thoughts so beautiful that you want to weep.
Because of that, and because of the easy-to-follow gourmet recipes included, this memoir will firmly ensnare hunters and eaters alike. If that describes you, then, Girl Hunter is a book to shoot for.