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Beachcomber's Handbook by Euell Gibbons
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Beachcomber's Handbook

by Euell Gibbons

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This book is really hard to classify. It's not really travel - he does travel through the Hawaiian islands, but that's far from his focus. Cooking is closer - a _lot_ of the book is his recipes for (yummy-sounding) food that can be made from things gathered from the wild. Coconuts, fish, wild goats and pigs, guava, various nuts... It's the story of how he lived in a small house and basically fed himself by scrounging - fed himself (and his friends) scrumptiously, not on scraps. Some of his stuff is got by hunting or fishing, some from roadside plants (or plants much further from civilization), some need ingredients bought or scrounged from civilization. He informs us, for instance, that the brewery near his house scraped the ice from its freezer pipes once a week, and if he showed up then with a bucket they were happy to give it to him. He made ice-cream with that ice and various jellys and custards that he'd made from wild guava or coconut. He talks a little about working wood (into bowls and the like) to sell for money for the few things it's necessary to buy. And so on. I don't know whether it would still be possible to live his beachcomber's life - I get the feeling that property is more strongly held these days, but that may be less true in Hawaii than in California or Virginia. And it might well be possible to sustain yourself by offering to empty trees for people so the fruits won't fall and squash and make a mess. The recipes are interesting, the gathering instructions are comprehensive (though it sounds like a lot of work), the lifestyle would shortly drive me mad I think. But a very interesting book to read. ( )
  jjmcgaffey | Jan 24, 2009 |
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