Excerpt from Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Anything That Moves

Renegade Chefs, Fearless Eaters, and the Making of a New American Food Culture

by Dana Goodyear

Anything That Moves
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2013, 272 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2014, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Poornima Apte

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Print Excerpt

Denying someone's humanity based on what they eat is a form xenophobia. In America, it can also be sibling rivalry. When Jonathan Gold got back from Korea, in the fall of 2008, he published a piece about eating whale in Ulsan, a port city in the south. "I am surprised to discover that the whale is delicious, leaner than beef, with a rich, mineral taste and a haunting, almost waxy aftertaste that I can't quite place," he wrote. "I am already anticipating the nasty glare I will inevitably get from my marine-scientist brother, Mark, who as the leader of Heal the Bay has dedicated his life to pretty much the opposite of this. I swear: I'll never eat whale again. Mark responded, on the Weekly's Letters page:

Bro — now you've crossed the line. For far too long, you have been chowing down on every marine critter I've spent my life protecting, from shark's fin soup to live prawns to bluefin to wild?caught sturgeon (largely freshwater). What did I do to you in our childhood to justify this ichthyocide? Now you're on to whale meat. This time you've crossed the line. IT IS ON!

The next summer, I went fishing in Iceland and — local custom — bit the dorsal fin off the first salmon I caught and swallowed it. I got through it, with the help of a cook who cut the fin three-quarters of the way across for me, and a slug of vodka. A few days later, in Reykjavik, some of my fishing friends took me to a sleek Icelandic-Japanese restaurant. They ordered whale, and asked me to try it. Was I thinking about Gold when I agreed? Yes, and I was also thinking about the guest-host contract: accepting food is how you prove that you are not the enemy. The whale came to the table, unappetizingly red, with an oily taste that recalled the smell of a burnt wick in a hurricane lamp. My friends spent the rest of the meal talking about the polarizing politics of the hunt.

Several months later, The Hump, a Santa Monica sushi bar with a reputation for catering to thrill-seekers, was accused of serving an endangered species of whale to an undercover vegan activist. One night in the fall of 2009, Crystal Galbraith, a slender 26-year-old with bleached blonde hair and a mole under her right eye, put on her best dress, a knee- grazing, tight-fitting black number by The Row, and set out to save the animals. Crystal had read "Skinny Bitch" in college—"I was a normal eater at lunch and by dinner I was vegan," she says—and after graduating saw "The Cove," a documentary about the dolphin hunt in the former whaling town of Taiji, Japan. She became obsessed, attending every screening, volunteering, talking to viewers afterward. Eventually, she met one of the producers, Charles Hambleton, a soft-spoken man in his late forties, with a distracted, trembly affect he ascribes to all the tuna he ate on location: he and the director, Louis Psihoyos, he said, both got severe mercury poisoning.

Hambleton, whose father worked for Pan Am, grew up all over the world. As a child in Moscow at the height of the Cold War, he was forced to eat caviar sandwiches because peanut butter cost too much. Living in Antigua as a dive instructor and a treasure hunter, he ate whale with the old fishermen, and has no regrets about it. (His ethical line is that he won't eat factory-farmed meat.) When I met him recently, at a coffee shop in Los Angeles, he was wearing a skull ring, a memento from his work as a pirate-trainer on all four "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. On "The Cove," he planned the covert missions, setting up blinds for filming the dolphin hunt, and dummy-blinds to trip up the local police. When I asked him what had prepared him for the job, he said, "I was good at creative problem solving, long hours, nasty conditions." I pressed him, and he rattled off his lawyer's phone number from memory.

Excerpted from Anything That Moves by Dana Goodyear. Copyright © 2013 by Dana Goodyear. Excerpted by permission of Riverhead Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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