#35 Buy an old cookbook

October 13, 2008

If your favorite cookbook doesn’t include instructions on how to dress and cook a squirrel, it’s not going to be much use after the global climate change cataclysm.

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Cooking is cultural, sociological, environmental and historical. What we cook depends on what’s available in our local grocery store or market. As globalization and international trade have grown exponentially in recent years, we’ve grown used to seeing ingredients from around the world on local grocery shelves, like Bulgarian feta, Italian proscuitto and Philippine tilapia.

As ingredients have changed, so have cookbooks, which was nice while the global supply chain still functioned. When it collapses and you have to rely on locally-grown ingredients, your fancy-pants modern cookbook will be next to useless. Well, I suppose you could use it to start a fire.

Luckily, I have the 1975 edition of The Joy of Cooking on my shelf. It includes detailed instructions for how to dress and cook squirrel, opossum, porcupine, raccoon, muskrat, woodchuck, beaver, armadillo, and seven different ways to prepare rabbit. Plus recommended side dishes.

The 2006 edition only offers this advice: “Small game can be cooked following most recipes for chicken.” To survive on local game post-cataclysm, most of us will need more guidance than this.

I mean, the recipe for moo shu tempeh looks tasty – I’ll give it a try it while I can still buy the ingredients. But the odds of finding shiitake mushrooms, wood ear fungus, sesame oil, canned bamboo shoots and tempeh on the grocery shelf after the cataclysm are slim.

I’m keeping my old fashioned cookbook with old fashioned local ingredients in my cataclysm survival kit.