How to Cook a Moose
An award-winning novelist’s account of the unexpected fulfillment she found in New England, living, loving, cooking, and eating “at the end of the world.”
In this exuberant, unabashedly gourmand-esque follow-up to Blue Plate Special, Christensen celebrates the land, food, and people of Maine. The state became her home after she and her partner, Brendan, decided to leave a beloved New Hampshire farmhouse owned by the Fitzgerald family and buy a house of their own. They settled in the quietly cosmopolitan city of Portland, where they discovered restaurants that, in their excellence and diversity, rivaled those in larger cities like New York. As she got to know actual Mainers, Christensen also found herself appreciating their unpretentiousness and rugged individualism, and she admired their “quiet work ethic…that is somehow never puritanical or self-righteous, as well as the lack of judgment, the mind-your-own-business attitude, and the fierce pride of place.” This was especially true where food was concerned. Despite the state’s short growing seasons and long winters, Mainers took pride in keeping their food—whether from the land or sea—local and in season. Christensen’s interest in her new home and, in particular, its cooking traditions led her to explore Maine history and learn the personal stories of the chefs, fishermen, hunters, and farmers who wrested plenty from the rocky soil and fierce ocean. Her enthusiasm for her adopted home and its ethos of sustainability is as abundant as the lovingly crafted descriptions of stunning landscapes and mouthwatering meals—the recipes for which Christensen includes in the book—she and her partner prepared together in their kitchen. The heartbreak and personal drama that characterized Blue Plate Special is absent in this book. Christensen is eating well, in love, and radiating the “quiet internal daily joy of living in a culture based on authenticity and integrity.”
A warmly engaging culinary memoir.
Winner of the 2016 Maine Literary Award for Memoir
More Reviews and Excerpts
Bushnell on Books: ‘How to Cook a Moose’ and ‘Truth Beat’ (CentralMaine.com)
Keeping the Wolf At Bay: The Hunger for a Better Food System (Los Angeles Review of Books)
Chef writes of Maine city in ‘How to Cook a Moose’ (Keene Sentinel)
HOW TO COOK A MOOSE (Kirkus Reviews)
Kate Christensen’s ‘How to Cook a Moose’ reads like Maine on a plate (Portland Press Herald)
Review: ‘How to Cook a Moose’ by Kate Christensen (Chicago Tribune)
Maine Courses (Wall Street Journal)
Lundgren’s Lounge: “How to Cook a Moose,” by Kate Christensen (Bill and Dave’s Cocktail Hour)
Review: ‘How to Cook a Moose,’ by Kate Christensen (Star Tribune)
Excerpt: ‘How to Cook a Moose’ (Boston Globe)
How to Cook a Moose is as lush, lean, and hardy as the region that inspired it. I devoured every word of ￼this beautifully written book.
How to Cook a Moose is part of a long proud literary tradition that asks: Why do we Americans feel the need to start over? How do we do it? And with whom? And where? Christensen is one of our best, most versatile writers, and her latest is a terrifically smart, funny, disarming story about how we get where we’re meant to go, and what we might eat when we get there.
How to Cook a Moose is Kate Christensen’s gorgeously composed love letter to Maine, its people, and its food. Like Maine itself, it is both cozy and rugged, grounded in a powerful sense of place. One of our finest novelists is one of our best memoirists and food writers, too.
Ordering the book next week and very much looking forward to it as I have all your previous books. This is a beautiful site, Kate–
Hoping to hear when you’ll be doing a book launch in Portland.
Thank you for asking! The local launch for “How to Cook a Moose” will be at at Sonny’s in Portland on the 22nd from 5-7, sponsored by Longfellow. I’m reading at the Falmouth Library two days later on the 24th, and I’m also doing a Brown Bag Lunch at the Portland Public Library on November 18th. I hope to see you at one of these!
Hi Kate – I just finished “How to Cook a Moose” and thoroughly enjoyed it all. I’ve been a fan of yours for years and love your writing style, books and blog. As a fellow New England transplant (also from Manhattan), I can relate to much of your descriptions of New Englanders in general and Maine in particular. I moved to New England following a divorce and also meeting a younger man who grew up here. (We live in Northwest Connecticut bordering on the Massachusetts state line.) We bought and furnished a lovely home from scratch, married in the fall later that same year (2007) and adopted and raised a puppy who is now 6 years old and travels with us when possible. So much of your recent book and your previous memoir I can personally relate to as it often feels as if you’re telling my life story. I’m one of 3 daughters (oldest), mid-50’s, no children (by choice), love to eat and cook fresh and seasonal, drink wine, take daily walks with our dog, read, travel and meet new people. Mostly, I feel blessed to have someone to share it all with who enjoys it as much as I do. For the past 5 years, we have spent much of the month of August up in Mid-Coast Maine in the Portland/Casco Bay region. Because I have the luxury of working from home when I’m not traveling, we rent a small cottage and live and eat like the locals. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful people, places and their stories that you have discovered since moving to Maine. You have given us several great ideas of new places to explore. With kind regards.
Our Belgrade public library book group discussed your Moose book last summer. I tried at that time to find info on your mother and her mother of the year award years ago…just picked up Maine’s Remarkable Women with a chapter on her, finally! Hope I have the right family and author,
Martha F. Barkley
I heard a story about her on Maine Calling… she was a Chinese immigrant who ran a laundry in Portland and put all her kids through school single-handedly? My mother should have won a Mother of the Year award, but she’s not the one you’re thinking of. I wish I could remember the name, but best of luck finding her.
Toy Len Goon 1952 Mother of the Year
Thanks for info, Martha
PS Her daughter is a writer…moose recipe book full of humor…
Just returned your book to the library. Loved it. Now I’m sorry I didn’t copy the recipe for baked beans, as it was slightly different from what I usually do. Are the recipes from your book listed anywhere?
They’re all in the book itself, but my baked bean recipe is pretty traditional, and baked beans are pretty flexible in terms of recipes. This is a good one, and very close to mine: https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/main-course-other-main-course/maine-baked-beans.html