Sara Bir “The Fruit Forager’s Companion: Ferments, Desserts, Main Dishes, and More from Your Neighborhood and Beyond”
Thursday, July 19, 7:30pm, Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside St., Portland)
A how-to guide with recipes that will tell readers where and when to find wild and unusual fruit, how to gather and grow it, and how to cook it.
From apples and oranges to pawpaws and persimmons.
Half of the fruit that grows in yards and public spaces is never picked or eaten. Citrus trees are burdened with misshapen lemons, berries grow in tangled thickets on the roadside, and the crooked rows of abandoned orchards fill with fallen apples. At the same time, people yearn for an emotional connection that’s lacking in bland grocery store bananas and tasteless melons.
The Fruit Forager’s Companion is a how-to guide with nearly 100 recipes devoted to the secret, sweet bounty just outside our front doors and ripe for the taking, from familiar apples and oranges to lesser-known pawpaws and mayhaws. Sara Bir—a seasoned chef, gardener, and forager—primes readers on foraging basics, demonstrates gathering and preservation techniques, and presents a suite of recipes including habanero crabapple jelly, lime pickle, pawpaw lemon curd, and fermented cranberry relish.
Bir encourages readers to reconnect with nature and believes once the foraging mindset takes control, a new culinary world hiding in plain sight will reveal itself. Written in a witty and welcoming style, The Fruit Forager’s Companion is a must-have for seekers of both flavor and fun.
Sara Bir is a chef and a writer. A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, she creates recipes that draw on her professional skill set, yet are realistic for home cooks. Bir has worked as a chocolate factory tour guide, sausage-cart lackey, food editor, recipe tester, restaurant critic, librarian, and arts and entertainment reporter. In her spare time, she enjoys walking around and looking at plants. Bir’s writing has been featured in Saveur, Edible Ohio Valley, Best Food Writing 2014, two Full Grown People anthologies, and on the websites Serious Eats, Lucky Peach, and Paste Magazine. She lives in Ohio.
Camas Davis “Killing It: An Education”
Tuesday, July 24, 7:30pm, Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside St., Portland)
The story of a wayward young woman’s transformation from magazine journalist to pioneering butcher, in the process discovering what it means to take life into her own hands.
Camas Davis was at an unhappy crossroads. A longtime magazine writer and editor in the food world, she’d returned to her home state of Oregon with her boyfriend from New York City to take an appealing job at a Portland lifestyle magazine. But neither job nor boyfriend delivered on her dreams, and in the span of a year, Davis was unemployed, on her own, with nothing to fall back on. Disillusioned by the years she’d spent mediating the lives of others for a living, she had no idea what to do next. She did know one thing: She no longer wanted to write about the real thing; she wanted to be the real thing.
So when a friend told her about Kate Hill, an American woman living in Gascony, France who ran a cooking school and took in strays in exchange for painting fences and making beds, it sounded like just what she needed. She discovered a forgotten credit card that had just enough credit on it to buy a plane ticket and took it as kismet. Upon her arrival, Kate introduced her to the Chapolard brothers, a family of Gascon pig farmers and butchers, who were willing to take Camas under their wing, inviting her to work alongside them in their slaughterhouse and cutting room. In the process, the Chapolards inducted her into their way of life, which prizes pleasure, compassion, community, and authenticity above all else.
So begins Camas Davis’s funny, heartfelt, searching memoir of her unexpected journey to become a successful and enlightened butcher. It’s a story that takes her from an eye-opening stint in rural France where deep artisanal craft and whole animal gastronomy thrives despite the rise of mass scale agribusiness, back to a Portland in the throes of a food revolution, where it suddenly seems possible to translate much of this old-world craft into a new world setting. Camas faces hardships and heartaches along the way, but in the end, Killing It is about what it means to pursue the real thing and to dedicate your life to it.
Camas Davis is a former editor and writer for magazines including Saveur and National Geographic Adventure. In 2009, she traveled to southwest France to study whole animal butchery and charcuterie and subsequently founded the Portland Meat Collective, a transparent, hands-on meat school that has become a local and national resource for meat education and reform. In 2014, Camas launched the Meat Collective Alliance (MCA), a nonprofit dedicated to inspiring responsible meat production and consumption through experiential education across the country. Camas and the Portland Meat Collective have been covered in media outlets such as The New York Times Magazine, Martha Stewart Living, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, and Cooking Light.