Anthony Bourdain, Jim Harrison and the Living Land That Sustains Us

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"A new environmental ethic will come into being through a rejuvenation of our carnal, sensorial empathy with the living land that sustains us"- David Abram,  The Spell of the Sensuous


The above quote came through my Facebook feed the other day and I immediately copied and pasted it into a Word document because I think it's right on the money. It ties in to my ongoing interest in our relationship to food as a source of reconciliation, healing and renewal, both with ourselves and our communities, and with the Earth. We've written a fair bit about this new relation to food here at Beams, and probably the best single place to find links to those articles is in this post called The Food Revolution Continues- Some Resources. JimHarrison

The day after I saw that quote someone else posted this great essay called The Spirit of Wine by the American poet and novelist Jim Harrison. I'd never heard of Jim Harrison, and as I looked into this man I started to be disappointed that I hadn't. What a character, I look forward to delving into more of his work. Here's the opening paragraph to that essay:

I have long since publicly admitted that I seek spirituality through food and wine. In France, Italy, and Spain, I seem more drawn to markets and cafés than to churches and museums. Too many portraits of bleeding Jesus and his lachrymose Momma make me thirsty. The Lord himself said on the cross, “I thirst” and since our world itself has become a ubiquitous and prolonged crucifixion it is altogether logical that we are thirsty.

The following night I watched an episode of the excellent show No Reservations with chef Anthony Bourdain (once called "the foodie Hunter S. Thompson"), a culinary adventure program with Bourdain traveling all around the world looking for the good, the true and the beautiful of cuisine. Bourdain has a real nose for the local, the simple, the quality, the close to the land, the traditional passed down from family to family, generation to generation. In short, he's a great guide to and supporter of the exact ethic and carnal, sensorial empathy to the living land that Abram is talking about.

In this particular episode he was in Montana, and who does he visit in this show but one of his all time heroes- Jim Harrison!! What?! Harrison is a real lover of food and a solid cook, and the final scene where Harrison cooks for Bourdain is great. I found this Montana episode of No Reservations on Youtube and I've decided to post Part 3 (the first two are available also on Youtube, as are many other episodes) because I really feel it offers a nice example of this type of living relation to the land that's so important to recapture and revive (and in some lucky instances, sustain) going forward. Just a warning that the clip starts rather abruptly with Bourdain, Harrison and another longtime local artist in an upscale restaurant that's working with local ingredients in a beautiful, highly skilled way. It moves on to two other rather different settings after that. Enjoy!


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