Here’s a fine bit of “food writing” from one of my heroes, Sebastian Snow, the old-Etonian, explorer, walker, and all-round eccentric and good egg. It appears in his book Half A Dozen of the Other, in a chapter titled “In Orellana’s Footsteps – the journey that nearly killed us.” He and his party are in Ecuadar, in trouble, on foot, trying to get to the city of Coca, through what we would now call rainforest. Snow is the man on the right, in the picture below.
“Within twenty-four hours of plunging back into the jungle, we had eaten the last of our food; from now on it was up to the jungle itself to support us. It made a fairly brave show for a day or two. The second day after we had left the river, one of the Indians shot a young female bear, craftily coaxed down from the uttermost branches of interlocking treetops by our porters simulating mating calls, which although effective created no headlong thrill in the breast of one so innocent. But like Lolita it eventually came under the spell of the ‘heartless’ Humbert Humberts that lay in wait. The bear having been killed instantly by a very fine – and sporting – shot while still comprativle high up, I noticed at once the length and the sharpness of its claws. The men immediately ripped out its heart (a delicacy I refused). We ate much of her at once – and ‘smoked’ the rest – supplementing the strong meat with berries and roots together with palm-shoot hearts – a tough, tasteless and indigestible ‘vegetable.’”
Note to weight-watchers: Snow managed to lose 70 pounds in the course of the expedition.
I have only eaten bear once, at a promotional lunch given by Steve Rinella (above)– a man I thought would absolutely conquer the world of TV chef-dom, and he does have a perfectly good career, including a program called Meateater on the Sportsman Channel (whatever that is). But I think the real reason he isn’t everywhere is because he hunts and kills what he eats, and the TV foodie world just doesn’t like to admit that animals have to be killed before gourmet action can take place.