Welcome Back to The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Club project!
(As a refresher, please see Camilla’s Master invitation for details on the what and when – and most importantly how to join us in this year long experience.)
This month, we are hosted by Andrea at Adventures in All Things Food. Please take a moment to click on that hyperlink for her invitation to this month’s project and description of the book and recipe.
The book is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Bill and his buddy Katz decide to hike the Appalachian Trail beginning at its southernmost tip and ultimately finishing at Mount Katahdin in Baxter State Park in Maine. It’s often funny and occasionally poignant —- but aside from Snickers Bars and Little Debbie cakes and noodles, there isn’t a lot of food.
The recipe in the cookbook related to this book is for a Lemon Meringue Pie, and it does sound delicious —- unlike the pie in the book. Bryson describes it as a piece of pie which doesn’t really sound very good, but since he’s been on the trail for weeks at this point, the over abundance of sugar and gooey sliminess is exactly what he craved, making it the best pie ever. Hmm. Well, as a human I can totally relate to how damn good really bad food can be, but as I cook…. Eh. I’ll pass. Also, as someone who lives in Maine, how am I supposed to make a pie that isn’t blueberry?
Bryson finds himself in Maine in August, the height of the short, heavenly blueberry season. I’ve rhapsodized about Maine Blueberry Pie before, so I won’t repeat myself. Overall, Bryson’s stories about Maine were fairly true to life. People are friendly and very, very funny. The wilderness up here is indeed wild. Maine is The Way Life Should Be, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s easy. As Bryson learned, one does not walk glibly into the Maine woods.
I had one exception to his description of Maine, and it bothers me enough (weeks after finishing the book) that I feel compelled to mention it. He complains about the, in his mind, apparent senselessness of hunting, especially moose. He refuses to understand why this is permitted at all.
Maine, especially in the north, is not a wealthy state. In the summer, people come for vacations and they bring with them the wealth and commerce that largely drives the states economy. Otherwise, we have fishing and some industry (less and less as the mills continue to close) and LL Bean. In other words, there aren’t a lot of jobs. If people don’t hunt and fish, often there isn’t enough food.
A moose goes a long way to feeding the family in winter.
Maine is a state of deep and honorable traditions. Self-reliance and resourcefulness are prized and praised. Hunting and fishing are common, but not only as sporting activities. Indeed, killing for sport is abhorred. Abuse of natural resources is anathema to a Mainer’s way of life.
In fact, Bryson experiences a taste of this in the very hostility of the landscape of the AT while trying to hike The Hundred Miles Wilderness. It’s wild and we will leave it that way. You can have your more guest-friendly AT in the South, a region known for its hospitality and warmth. New Englanders….. eh, we don’t even use road signs. If you don’t know where you are, you probably shouldn’t be here. And why would the AT be any different?
So…. Here’s a guy who eats mostly junk food on the trail. He studies the history of the trail, but with the exception of Pennsylvania, makes little effort to understand the communities surrounding the trail. He goes home when it gets hard and judges the locals by his own standards. He dabbles in expansive experiences but when it gets too tough, too lonely, too wet or cold, he goes home. He wants Experiences, as long as they don’t make him too uncomfortable. And he is not transformed.
Why embark on a journey of this nature if not to find yourself pushed farther than you think you can stand, if not to learn that indeed you can?
So, Maine –
I won’t make moose burgers. In fact, I’ve never seen a moose. I’ve lived here almost ten years, and I joke about how they must be mythical creatures.
Two foods however are known and loved by Mainers — two foods other than lobster, boiled dinner, or blueberries.
Red hot dogs and Moxie soda.
To welcome you to Maine, I serve you red hot dogs from the grill and Moxie. (I want to note that prior to this post, I had never considered eating either. Additionally, as proof that I’m not making this up, here’s an article from Yankee Magazine about Maine’s Red Hot Dogs and there’s a whole novella about about Moxie’s history here.)
Red hot dogs are exactly what they sound like: hot dogs made of some parts of beef and pork and dyed bright red. They look like Satan’s hot dogs on the grill. I was afraid.
Moxie, on the other hand, rocks. It’s like a combination of root beer and sarsaparilla and I don’t know what making it the one of the best colas I’ve ever had. And with a name like Moxie, well, you’ve gotta love it.
I wanted to continue the Moxie exploration, though, so I thought I’d try to blend some cocktails…. I’m not much of a bartender, but I can tell you this: 3-4 parts Moxie, 1 part gin and 1 part Canton liqueur is a fine drink.
Don’t mix it with tequila though. <<shudder>>
One last thought. There’s a Robert Redford movie based on the book coming out soon. Apparently, though, he doesn’t make it to Maine, either.
Participants in The Book Club Cook Book Cooking Project:
One of our lucky readers – US and Canada only! – can enter to win a copy ofThe Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp, courtesy of Tarcher-Penguin. Giveaway runs from August 1st till August 31st at 6 o’clock PM, Pacific time. Please see terms and conditions in the rafflecopter widget below. Many thanks to Tarcher Books. You may find Tarcher: on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.
*Disclosure: Andrea received a complimentary copy of The Book Club Cookbook, Revised Edition: Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club’s Favorite Books and Authors by Judy Gelman and Vicki Levy Krupp to use in this year-long project plus the opportunity to give a copy away. Opinions are our own. We received no further compensation for our posts.