A game-changer

Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini was recently released. I haven’t read it yet – it doesn’t seem to be out in Canada yet – but I feel pretty certain it will be a game-changer, the way Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma became a platform for other books of the same and inspired multiple books on local eating. Why? Because the cookbook section at my local Chapters has grown tired and boring, dear readers, that’s why. I love local food issues and even I, girl who can listen to the same song on repeat twenty-five times, have grown sick of reading the same things. And then along comes Georgia, a pretty blonde who offers up a sizeable dose of charm and a lot of interesting things to say about hunting and artisanal food production.

Certainly food-related issues and topics have been trending romantic over the last few years. At their core, the philosophies espoused by Slow Food, local eating, artisanal food production, and "sustainable eating" express this perspective most acutely. It's a nice thought to think about, even if entirely unrealistic. Industrialism occurred because those traditions involved some seriously hard labour. However, given the current culinary climate, it seems intuitive that hunting would follow suit; after all, if we're devoted to growing organic vegetables, keeping laying hens in our backyards for eggs and making our own butter, isn't it only natural that we might want to learn how to hunt, gather and forage, too?

While Pellegrini is remarkable in her own right, I find it interesting (though unsurprising) that in marketing the book, the complex questions a departure from Wall Street into the world of hunting might provoke were deliberately overlooked in favour of the simplified You can hunt a deer and still be a lady! Was that ever a question? But it is, isn’t it? It’s not only a fresh book idea; it’s a fresh idea, period.

It's a Wednesday night and I'm fashionably late for drinks with my friend K. in Cabbagetown. I met her well over a year ago in passing when we both served at an event hosted by a well-known real estate executive on a large piece of property outside of Barrie. We’ve taken a seat at one of the high tops and I’m deep into my first glass of wine. "I talked to my friend and he tells me I need to play hard to get," she says. "I am playing hard to get. I'm not doing anything. But he says no one will hunt a deer that's standing right in front of them."

In every other aspect of our lives, women are encouraged -- hell, forced -- to pursue. You want a fancy education? Go after it. You want to climb the corporate ladder? Give it a try. Venture to Thailand, knock back that shot of tequila, learn how to fly a plane; you can do whatever you want and be whomever you choose. All you have to do is choose it. But when it comes to hunting, we're told to lay down the gun.

"I don't get it,” I tell her. “I know so many great, funny, single women with vibrant social lives who have so much to offer.”
"Well, one thing's for sure. I'm not waiting a month until he comes back from Hawaii."
"What, no postcard?" I smile, dunking a sweet potato fry in aioli.

I suspect hunting will gain ground in the coming years. You'd be surprised to hear how many people hunt -- no one ever seems to discuss it. Georgia generally waxes poetic about it, which may inspire others to move out into the field. I mean, it’s already happening. Still, though, a part of be wonders: while it’s socially acceptable, for the most part, for a woman to bring home the bacon, will anyone object if she slaughters the pig, too?

I’m celebrating B.’s birthday in Kensington Market over a glass of Cabernet, flank steak with chimichurri, Yukon Gold potatoes and a perfectly tender mushroom salad. B. is one of the most endearing women I've ever met; she’s easy to like, maybe because she’s warm and open-hearted and her smile easily lights up a room. Maybe it's the fact that she is dancing around in her sequin skirt, purchased from the children's department. "You can't even tell!" she says. “Can you? I don’t think you can tell.”
"When are you planning on heading back to Huntsville?" her sister asks her.
"Um, well, I was thinking..."
"I'll give you a ride back anytime you like," J. pipes in.
"Why, are you going there sometime soon?"
"No, but I know how much you like my music."
“He does have great taste in music,” she says, looking over at me.
"What, you don't like the sound of my uncomfortable silence?" her sister asks.
The table erupts in a glorious fit of laughter.

B. used to live with her grandmother, but now lives with several other people in a big house in Toronto. She’s another fabulous go-getter, heading, why of course, to Huntsville this holiday.

My parents met on a blind date; they were set up by friends who are no longer together. As the story goes, my mom pursued my dad, who was mostly interested in sports and getting into mischief and not the least bit interested in committing to a long-term relationship. My mom’s a pretty convincing woman and my dad’s an awfully smart man, so I suppose it was inevitable. What would’ve happened had my mother let him go? There’s a picture of them when they were dating. My dad is thin and lanky and wearing some retro shirt and a fedora, and my mom’s there, her hair softly curled, looking beautiful. My dad is the kind of person who shows you he loves you; my mom fills in the words.

I want to read that book. I want to read someone else’s passion. And then I’ll let the wind take me, drive me into the field, where we learn to hunt and run in equal measure, where we navigate the terrain using our minds, our hands, the clothes on our backs.  


Samantha Angela said...

I've always wanted to go hunting. Sitting in the woods in the fall with a big thermos of coffee or tea and just taking in nature. Not actually shooting anything because I don't think I'd have the cahones (my nonna tried to make me kill a snake in the yard once, but I couldn't do it).
Maybe I can convince Tina's dad or Teresa's brother to take me one day. It feels like one of those things that I should know how to do, like sewing a button or changing a flat tire.

Andrea K. said...

Fantastic post. I wonder if it would be interesting to read Girl Hunter alongside Melissa Bank's book A Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. I haven't read either one but am now tempted to read both--one pick from the fiction world and one pick from non-fiction. Interestingly Bank's book seems to be primarily about dating and relationships--so I'm interested in how the predator/prey dichotomy works out in her series of stories. I think you have an excellent point about women being portrayed as prey to be hunted when it comes to romantic pursuit. Have you read The Pornography of Meat by Carol J. Adams? It's an disturbing read but worth checking out.

S. said...

@Andrea - I've read Melissa Bank's book. I liked it. I felt like the collection was disjointed and a bit uneven, but definitely worth a read. Actually, I should probably read it again -- it's been a while.

I've not read the Adams title, but I'll add it to the list. Sounds really interesting.

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