WARNING: If you are in the least bit likely to be offended by the any of the following topics DO NOT read A Really Big Lunch, a collection of food and wine essays by the late great poet and novelist Jim Harrison.
• A disdain of organized religion
• Withering criticism of all things Republican
• The hunting and fishing of animals, and any related squeamishness regarding eating said creatures and most particularly those inner organs ignored by 99% of Americans
• Sharp, laugh-out-loud funny observations about the human condition
• An unapologetically Rabelaisian lust for women, food, and drink
Even if you aren’t particularly sensitive to items on this short list I guarantee that Harrison is likely to tweak the noses of most readers — I mean, the guy even manages to dismiss the Mona Lisa as “smarmy.”
But if good food and wine, cooking, nature, deep friendships, and travel are a large part of what makes life worthwhile for you, if you enjoy beautiful, irreverent writing by a man unafraid to take endless potshots at his own potbelly, then I cannot but gleefully recommend A Really Big Lunch.
I offer this brief snippet from a 2007 piece called “The Spirit of Wine,” originally published in Kermit Lynch’s always excellent newsletter:
When Baudelaire wrote in his famed "Enivrez-Vous," "Be always drunk on wine or poetry or virtue,” he didn’t likely mean commode-hugging drunk. Wine can offer oxygen to the spirit, I thought, getting off my deck chair and going into the kitchen to cook some elk steak and dietetic potatoes fried in duck fat, and not incidentally opening a bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol because I had read a secret bible in France that said to drink red wine after dark to fight off the night in our souls.