The Dirty Chef: From big city food critic to foodie farmer

Allen & Unwin
3
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How do you go from being an urban dag to a country boy without any experience of the bush?

In 2008 Matthew Evans, one of Australia's most powerful food critics, stepped off the Sydney treadmill to farm 20 acres in Australia's southernmost shire.

What is it really like to take the plunge, leaving a whole world of familiar people, places and work behind? How does it feel to use a cordless drill for the first time, to plant a vegetable garden, to milk a cow, to slaughter a chook for dinner? And what if a TV show is filming the whole process?

This is the story of that transformation. The story of a life more in tune with the seasons and more connected to the soil. A life that is as rewarding as it is exhausting. The story of a family trying to turn a living from the noble and ancient art of growing things on the land.
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About the author

Matthew Evans is a former chef and food critic turned Tasmanian smallholder. He fattens pigs, milks a cow, tends a garden and writes about food from his office overlooking the silver birches atop his cottage on Puggle Farm, in the gorgeous Huon Valley. Matthew is the author of eight books on food, including the authoritative Real Food Companion. He writes regularly for Feast magazine, presents a television show, Gourmet Farmer, on SBS, and runs a small artisan food store in Hobart with a cheesemaker mate, Nick Haddow. The shop specialises in old and rare breed pork products from Matthew's Fat Pig Farm, amongst other goodies.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Allen & Unwin
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Published on
Oct 1, 2013
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Pages
288
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ISBN
9781743435656
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Culinary
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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"This book is the story of the two love affairs that interrupted the trajectory of my life: one with farming—that dirty, concupiscent art—and the other with a complicated and exasperating farmer."

Single, thirtysomething, working as a writer in New York City, Kristin Kimball was living life as an adventure. But she was beginning to feel a sense of longing for a family and for home. When she interviewed a dynamic young farmer, her world changed. Kristin knew nothing about growing vegetables, let alone raising pigs and cattle and driving horses. But on an impulse, smitten, if not yet in love, she shed her city self and moved to five hundred acres near Lake Champlain to start a new farm with him. The Dirty Life is the captivating chronicle of their first year on Essex Farm, from the cold North Country winter through the following harvest season—complete with their wedding in the loft of the barn.

Kimball and her husband had a plan: to grow everything needed to feed a community. It was an ambitious idea, a bit romantic, and it worked. Every Friday evening, all year round, a hundred people travel to Essex Farm to pick up their weekly share of the "whole diet"—beef, pork, chicken, milk, eggs, maple syrup, grains, flours, dried beans, herbs, fruits, and forty different vegetables—produced by the farm. The work is done by draft horses instead of tractors, and the fertility comes from compost. Kimball’s vivid descriptions of landscape, food, cooking—and marriage—are irresistible.

"As much as you transform the land by farming," she writes, "farming transforms you." In her old life, Kimball would stay out until four a.m., wear heels, and carry a handbag. Now she wakes up at four, wears Carhartts, and carries a pocket knife. At Essex Farm, she discovers the wrenching pleasures of physical work, learns that good food is at the center of a good life, falls deeply in love, and finally finds the engagement and commitment she craved in the form of a man, a small town, and a beautiful piece of land

It was when David Mas Masumoto's father had a stroke on the sprawling fields of their farm that the son looked with new eyes on the land where he and generations of his family have toiled for decades. Masumoto -- an organic farmer working the land in California's Central Valley -- farms stories as he farms peaches. In Wisdom of the Last Farmer, an impassioned memoir of revitalization and redemption, he finds the natural connections between generation and succession, fathers and children, booms and declines as he tells the story of his family and their farm. He brings us to the rich earth of America's Fruit Basket, under the vine trellises and canes where grapes are grown, and to the fruit orchards flush with green before harvest, where he uncovers and preserves the age-old wisdom that is fast disappearing in our modern, information-driven world -- and that is urgently needed in this time of food crises and social disruption.

Masumoto sees the price the family has paid to grow complex heirloom peaches -- when the market rewards tasteless, big, and red fruits -- and the challenges of maintaining traditions and integrity while working in the modern, high-pressure agricultural marketplace. As his father's health declines along with the profitability of the family farm, Masumoto has the further hard work of nursing his father back to health -- becoming master to the teacher who once schooled him -- and is driven beyond economic concerns to even larger questions of life, death, and renewal.

In his gorgeous, lyrical prose, Masumoto conjures the realities of farming life while weaving in the history of American agriculture over the past century, encapsulating universal themes of work along with wisdom that could be gleaned only from the earth. By the end of the workday, he understands the feeling of accomplishment when you've done your best...and discovers that it's when he lets go -- of both his father and control of nature -- that wisdom manifests itself. And, when Masumoto's daughter intends to return to the family farm, hope is found in the generations. In the quiet eloquence of Wisdom of the Last Farmer, you will see how your own destiny is involved in the future of your food, the land, and the farm.
NOW AN ORIGINAL SERIES ON ABC • “Just may be the best new comedy of [the year] . . . based on restaurateur Eddie Huang’s memoir of the same name . . . [a] classic fresh-out-of-water comedy.”—People
 
“Bawdy and frequently hilarious . . . a surprisingly sophisticated memoir about race and assimilation in America . . . as much James Baldwin and Jay-Z as Amy Tan . . . rowdy [and] vital . . . It’s a book about fitting in by not fitting in at all.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times
 
NATIONAL BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY KIRKUS REVIEWS
 
Assimilating ain’t easy. Eddie Huang was raised by a wild family of FOB (“fresh off the boat”) immigrants—his father a cocksure restaurateur with a dark past back in Taiwan, his mother a fierce protector and constant threat. Young Eddie tried his hand at everything mainstream America threw his way, from white Jesus to macaroni and cheese, but finally found his home as leader of a rainbow coalition of lost boys up to no good: skate punks, dealers, hip-hop junkies, and sneaker freaks. This is the story of a Chinese-American kid in a could-be-anywhere cul-de-sac blazing his way through America’s deviant subcultures, trying to find himself, ten thousand miles from his legacy and anchored only by his conflicted love for his family and his passion for food. Funny, moving, and stylistically inventive, Fresh Off the Boat is more than a radical reimagining of the immigrant memoir—it’s the exhilarating story of every American outsider who finds his destiny in the margins.
 
Praise for Fresh Off the Boat
 
“Brash and funny . . . outrageous, courageous, moving, ironic and true.”—New York Times Book Review
 
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“Uproariously funny . . . emotionally honest.”—Chicago Tribune
 
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“Although writing a memoir is an audacious act for a thirty-year-old, it is not nearly as audacious as some of the things Huang did and survived even earlier. . . . Whatever he ends up doing, you can be sure it won’t look or sound like anything that’s come before. A single, kinetic passage from Fresh Off the Boat . . . is all you need to get that straight.”—Bookforum
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