Author/Hunter/Gatherer Hank Shaw Visits Craigie On Main
James Beard award winners Tony Maws (Best Chef Northeast) and Hank Shaw (Best Food Blog for Hunter, Gatherer, Angler, Cook) join forces tonight for a feast of wild, foraged foods. Shaw (who is a former line cook turned writer-slash-forager based in Northern California) is in town promoting his book, Hunt, Gather Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast and will be signing copies at Craigie On Main while Maws whips up a meal using foraged and gathered ingredients (his specialty) like wild herbs, mushrooms, and a few odd animal bits. Chowder caught up with Shaw to hear about his epic book tour/road trip and what he’s foraged along the way.
Chowder: We’ve been following your blog and the 19-city book tour you’re on (in your own truck) for the last several weeks. You don’t eat much in the way of “gas station food.” What have you managed to forage on this trip?
Shaw: I’ve actually been on the road since May. I admit, I have eaten at Wendy’s once or twice but I’ve been making extra effort to find those places that are a few miles off the highway. I was driving across west Texas right before Labor Day and all along the highway are these mesquite trees. You can dry out the mesquite beans and grind them up like chickpea flour. I grabbed a huge bag of them because they were free. Last weekend I took someone out foraging in D.C. We got mushrooms, beechnuts, butternuts, dandelions. It’s been fun.
Chowder: Have you been able to use any of your recipes out on the road?
Shaw: Every now and then I get a chance to stop and cook. I made my tuna meatballs during a stop in North Carolina. And I went hunting in south Texas and made my barbecue sauce using prickly pears and tequila.
Chowder: What’s been your strangest meal on the road?
Shaw: They’ve mostly been unusual chef dishes so far. A restaurant in New York had cuttlefish, razor clams, sea urchin … but that’s not that unusual for me.
Chowder: Any idea what Tony Maws has in store for tonight?
Shaw: He’s been keeping it a secret, but I’m guessing it’ll involve some quahogs, porgies, wild mushrooms …
Chowder: You have family in Massachusetts; have you done much foraging/gathering up here?
Shaw: My mom and sister live in Gloucester, so I get up there once a year or so. I’ll be in Massachusetts for a whole week and should get a chance to do some gathering. Mushrooms are coming in hard and fast right now. And I’m sure I’ll be on the beach looking for food. There’s a beach vegetable chapter in the book and a lot of those recipes come from what I’ve found in the confines of the North Shore, especially out around Plum Island. The clam chowder recipe in my book is actually a family recipe. It’s a Maine style, so it’s not as thick as a Massachusetts chowder, but it’s very New England.
Shaw will be signing his book tonight at Craigie on Main, 853 Main St., Cambridge. 5:30 to 10 p.m; Dinner is $75 per person; books cost $20. For reservations, call 617-497-5511; craigieonmain.com.