Jim Harrison’s
an excerpt from his original 1983 Smoke Signals food column

Dear Mike, “Wither food? you asked in a recent letter. That question set me to thinking. Food, you see, is something that is so obviously dead that we have in large, large quantities. We don’t, of course, bother bearing this deadness in mind because naturally you eat it, everybody eats it, dogs, cats, everything on earth. Everything that lives eats it. Certain things worry me though, certain thoughts – tonight I am in a white heat and all around me is snow, and I sit awake with my sleeping animals who always keep a weather eye half open in case I go to the refrigerator. I’m angry enough to turn over a car myself, something I did on a bet with a model-A way back when my back was in good shape. Yes, I tipped over a Model-A by myself. What I’m trying to say tonight is there’s nothing to eat, in fact my bank account is low, which is another source of anger. Mike, to be frank, I feel myself on the verge of a change. Perhaps a great leap backwards into a smaller size. All too frequently I find that women, when they say to me you’re too big, they’re not referring to my primal fundament but my over-all body size! When I ask friends do you think I’m too big they say no, and use polite euphemisms such as burly, pulpy – not insulting words, just a shade short of grotesque. But certainly you, Mike, who lives in New York, which is rife with such schemes, know there is nothing so boring as somebody else’s self improvement plan. The oddity here is that I am not trying to improve on anything. What I’m thinking is much more positive than the cheapness, the drabness of self improvement plans. What I am thinking is what if a man just said to himself in the privacy of his haunted nights, I swear on mom, the Lord and everything holy, I am only going to eat live food. Enough of this dead food that has been taxing my system and taxing my popularity with the opposite gender.

I don’t mean those sort of decadent experiments of the middle ages when the French were given to eating a swan while it was still alive. They would cook a swan while it was still alive and start eating at it while it was still squawking. I don’t mean torture, neither do I mean I’m going to become one of those bliss-ninny grazers they call vegetarians. Mike, you probably think I’m setting you up for something here; I’m not, I’m perfectly serious. Of course that I know that a woman, Ms. Distaff as it were, is alive, and a woman’s you-know-what is very much alive, but checking with my local optometrist, the only real medial man in the area (he’s also gay), a woman’s you-know-what is totally without nutritional value, unless you catch her right after she’s spilled the bowl of soup in her lap.

Luckily for me the inception, the beginning of this experiment, as the experiment unwinds I’ll let you know – that I’m going south to do a little hunting, after an onerous, secret project that I’m not at liberty to divulge to anyone of course. I’m going to Louisiana to hunt the fabled woodcock and I’m going to do some quail hunting in north Florida so I will be close to the cedar key oyster and the Bon Secour oyster. I will be interested to hear from any of your readers of any other live food I can have.

- to be continued -