The Fruit Hunters Review
"The Fruit Hunters" by Adam Gollner, makes me happy to be a raw foodist.
Hell, it makes me happy to be alive.
It's one of those books that gets you excited about possibilities, and renews your sense of awe in the world.
Have you heard about the sexy
coco de mer?
Have you tasted the sweet custard that lies behind the foul stench of a durian?
The Fruit Hunters just hints at the staggering diversity and abundance of fruit that you'll never find in your supermarket. The only way you'll get to it is by going fruit hunting, and that's exactly what Gollner does.
From a fruit that looks like a bran muffin in Brazil to bananas that will shatter your teeth with their seeds in Asia, you get the grand tour.
An amateur fruit enthusiast himself, Gollner meets up with the a host of disreputable fruit hunters whose sanity you have to question.
They take on the Amazon in wheelchairs and trek naked through the Nicaraguan rain forest, all for the joy of collecting a few cuttings.
He describes his meetings with a loaded dandy in Bel Aire, who plans to stock his pond with fruit-eating piranhas and make bacchanal guests don penis sheaths made out of the peels of egg fruits.
The Fruit Hunters also reassured me that I'm not the only one that goes on vacation to hunt down new fruit. There's apparently an entire low-key fruit tourism industry, especially in Hawaii.
Always a history buff, I was surprised at how engrossing a past fruit has. Queen Victoria, he claims, offered a knighthood to anyone who could bring her fresh mangosteens from Asia, but no one succeeded due to the length of the voyage.
With a stiff upper lip and some manly vim, Victorians started trekking across the globe in search of exotic fruit, and we get an entertaining overview of a few of the best characters and their adventures.
It's no fault of Gollner's, but there's also plenty to be distressed about in the Fruit Hunters. I wanted to reach through the book and throttle the maker of Grapples. Apparently he's discovered some way to take perfectly good apples and pump them full of a chemical that makes them taste like grapes.
I also don't see how anyone can be happy with the idea of genetically modified fruit trees. Selective breeding may be slow, but it's safe.
The writing is fantastic, but The Fruit Hunters is written in flowing, half serious style that sometimes makes you wonder if an offhand sentence is really true. Does Borneo really have deer the size of mice? I'm fairly sure it doesn't.
On the other and, the amount of research done for this book is truly impressive. Gollner poured over ancient tomes on fruit cultivation, and read the diaries of fruit explorers long dead.
During the book he runs into a few fruitarians, who he seems to think are all at least half mad...and granted, the ones he describes are certainly off their rockers, like a desert sect that lives off dates and awaits the end times.
Given that there are sane people living off of raw fruits and vegetables, a book with such a devotion to fruit could have pointed out that there are some people thriving on this diet too.
But then, he's hardly sanctimonious about any of the topics he covers.
All in all, The Fruit Hunters is definitely worth your time. It's a fantastic read that will get even the most entrenched raw foodist excited about the possibilities out there. It also shows us that sometimes, truth is really stranger than fiction.
Buy the "The Fruit Hunters" here.
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