Excerpted from Afield by Jesse Griffiths & Jody Horton. Copyright © 2012 by Jesse Griffiths & Jody Horton. Excerpted by permission of Welcome Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Jesse Griffiths, Author of Afield
1. How did you decide to work with Jody on this project?
Jody was a natural choice. We were and are good friends, he likes to hunt and fish. He brings nice whiskey pretty much everywhere. He is also the most talented photographer I know of.
2. Jesse, what are the origins of your nose-to-tail philosophy?
It's simple respect for an animal that has died at your hands, plus a dose of frugality thrown in. I love hunting, fishing and cooking - It's pretty much all I ever want to do, so the extra time spent gleaning everything from what I'm bringing home is enjoyable to me.
3. Describe your favorite meal that you have made from hunt to finish.
Redbreast sunfish with homemade ketchup, fried over a pecan fire on the bank of a river drinking cold white wine with good friends.
4. Afield is both how-to-guide and local and sustainable lifestyle manifesto. How did you decide to make Afield more than just a cookbook?
I felt that there was a lack of information about the entire process. I want these techniques to be available to new hunters and people who've hunted their whole lives but need help with cooking game. We really tried to make the recipes and techniques accessible and familiar, like fried fish, tacos, breakfast sausage.
5. What made you decide that this particular book needed to exist in culinary writing?
Ironically, it's not the writing that makes the book stand out - it's detailed pictures of the process. We want this book to have scales and blood on it.
6. How do you respond to somebody who says, "Wild game and fish? That sounds hard. I'd rather stick with chicken and beef from the supermarket"?
That's fine. You don't win people by challenging them. More so, we'd just like to legitimize and normalize hunting and fishing as a viable way to get food. It is hard, too, but it's well worth it if you're willing and wanting to have that connection with your food.
7. Where do you think the United States ranks in terms of the local and sustainable food movements? Are you satisfied with the current state of food culture in the United States?
I think there's a long road ahead of us to make the food systems we have in place equitable and maintainable. That said, the current movement towards sustainability is on track and exciting. Our food culture needs to focus more on where food comes from rather than how fast can I get exactly what I want.
8. What do you hope the average reader takes away from this book?
You can do this. Go and get it.
9. Do you think hunting and fishing will continue to gain popularity as the sustainable and local food movements increase in prominence?
Absolutely. People who live in cities can't have direct oversight over their protein sources like they can growing vegetables and raising chickens for eggs and such. Hunting and fishing offers them the opportunity to have these experiences, which I see as a very natural progression from planting a garden and buying from local farmers.
10. How has sustainable living impacted your life philosophy or vice versa?
I pretty much live to eat, and I try to have a hand in everything I eat. This can mean hunting doves or buying squash from someone I know or at the very least reading the ingredient list on a label and thinking "did anyone get screwed to get this to me?" This can be applied to issues beyond food.
11. How does the philosophy of living life in the moment relate to your cooking and lifestyle?
Meals and mealtimes are very, very important. I love not having certain foods at certain times of year just as much as I love having them. Teal season is two months away right now, but I was thinking about how I'm going to cook them earlier today. I enjoy the structure of seasons, and the uncertainty of dealing with the natural world. You don't know what's going to happen when you get up early as hell on a Winter morning to go shoot some ducks or catch some crappie. Maybe you'll come home with dinner, maybe not. You just go and be gracious for what you get.
Jody Horton, Photographer of Afield
1. How did you decide to work with Jesse Griffiths on this project?
Jesse does what he loves to do and doesn't care much if anyone notices. He doesn't promote himself beyond an e-mail list of customers, and is in general like a man from a few generations before him when it comes to technology. In Jesse I saw a person who not only has world class skills as a hunter, butcher and a chef, but someone who sees the whole picture of food sustainability. I was excited to take on a project that would bring some his great work to a larger audience and help gain him much deserved recognition.
2. Jody, how did you first start photographing food?
When in graduate school I started working for a small local food magazine in Albuquerque, NM. It was one of the first local food publications in the country and really ahead of its time. My degree was in cultural anthropology and at the time I thought I would go on to create documentary videos, but after a few years I found I missed food photography and connecting to the stories and people behind food - particularly in the local food community.
3. Describe your favorite meal that you have made from hunt to finish.
A few of my all-time favorites came during this book. Hunting snipe in vast open rice fields in Eagle Lake, where snow geese rose in flocks of thousands in the distance, then returning to our host Elliot's estate to pluck, roast and eat them. A frantic trip for surfishing in Port Aransas as we were running out of sunlight: I built a fire and Jesse hauled in whiting then cooked them on a small grill minutes later. We ate them with carrot top sauce (incredible) and beer on the beach.
4. How do you respond to somebody who says, "Wild game and fish? That sounds hard. I'd rather stick with chicken and beef from the supermarket"?
I tell them that they are really missing out.
5. Where do you think the United States ranks in terms of the local and sustainable food movements? Are you satisfied with the current state of food culture in the United States?
I have no idea to be honest. It seems that there is a growing sense of awareness with regards to where food comes from, but realistically this perspective is limited to a pretty narrow subset of the world population (though it seems like more since people thinking about this kind of thing are the ones writing stories for books and magazines - and taking pictures of food.) To put it plainly, more people in the world are concerned not with what kind of food they will eat, but if they will have enough food to eat. Will the sustainable food movement save the world? I don't know. I am, however, inspired by creative and talented people like Jesse and think that listening to people like him will help move us all in a positive direction.
6. What do you hope the average reader takes away from this book?
I want them to feel more confident to try things they are interested in and to have a greater connection to their food. If they have never had someone that could show them how to clean a fish, this book can. If they have long been a hunter but were intimidated by the thought of butchering a deer themselves, this book can show them how. If they want to prepare and cook game in a way that they thought was only possible in fine restaurants, this shows them they can.
7. Do you think hunting and fishing will continue to gain popularity as the sustainable and local food movements increase in prominence?
I am not sure. Certainly w/in the subset of new urban-centered hunters.
8. How has sustainable living impacted your life philosophy or vice versa?
This is a big question. It was something I agonized over when I was younger. Now as a parent I mostly focus on what I can do for my family and what I can do to help insure a bright future for my boys.
9. How does the philosophy of living life in the moment relate to your cooking and lifestyle?
I think photography in the moment has a power that is difficult to simulate or construct. Things happen quickly when hunting and fishing so this project was a good test of my reflexes. If you aren't paying close attention - and really being in the moment - you miss it.
© 2012 Welcome Books. All rights reserved.