Book Review: Cook Wild

Cook Wild CoverReading the book, Cook Wild by Susanne Fischer-Rizzi (available in North America on April 15, 2012) brought back memories of a smelt fishing trip that some friends and I took some years back during one cold April night on Lake Michigan on Chicago's north side. We built an impromptu hobo oven from an old oil drum and some drift wood that we found along the lake (or was it a few smashed up packing crates that we found behind a Jewel-Osco supermarket)....I can't remember. Anyway, although we did not catch many smelts that night, it was a lot of fun being with friends, around a fire, on the lake, in the great outdoors.

In her twelfth book, Cook Wild, Fischer-Rizzi encourages readers to cook outside with friends around an open fire and get closer to nature. She provides all of the essential information that you will need in order to do just this. The author walks you through the process of selecting the best type of wood to use along with choosing the best and safest location for your fire. She also provides various types of cooking methods to use in preparing each of the more than 130 recipes included in the book. Many of these methods encourage the reader to utilize the art of improvisation by using things that are available in nature such as branches and stones to create make-shift utensils. Throughout the book, Susanne Fischer-Rizzi draws upon her experience as an outdoor specialist, herbal expert, and traditional healer to provide interesting background information related to each of her recipes.

In our review of Cook Wild, we tried the author's recipes for Chai Tea, Juan Carlos Paella, and Bannocks. The recipe for chai tea was really easy to prepare and required only a basic set of ingredients. Despite its simplicity, it beat the Starbucks version by a mile. The recipe for Juan Carlos Paella calls for paella rice which is probably the same thing as yellow Spanish rice. Anyway, that's what we ended up using for this recipe and it turned out great. We used one of the author's suggested variations for her bannocks recipe using Genoa salami added to base recipe. The texture of this type of bread/roll was a little heavy but the bannocks were filling and tasted good too. They would be the perfect food to have in your pack on a long hike.

After trying these recipes, we give Cook Wild four stars out of five. The section in the book about cooking methods that can be used while cooking on an open fire is very interesting and informative. In addition, the photographs by Sabine Mader and Ulrike Schmid of Fotos mit Geschmack Studio featured throughout the book are amazing. However, we would have liked to see more photos in the Wild Plants section that could help readers identify the plants described. The recipes that we tried were fairly easy to prepare and they all turned out well. This book is a must for someone who does a lot of camping or anyone that enjoys coking outside. We think this book is also a great companion to the book Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann.

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