This is the authors’ introduction from the sailing cookbook The Hunter & The Gatherer. Learn more about it here.
Instinctively we are drawn to the sea. Lured by water, waves and sunshine, calming blue vistas and a horizon that reminds us the world is bigger than the lives that seem to define us. There’s fun to be had in that cerulean strip that laps against the land: riding waves, ogling underwater life, and catching a meal that comes unwrapped and straight from the source in the freshest form possible.
To live on the sea is a dream that so many of us turn into reality. Yet even if, for now, you live happily between the two – taking time out from your lives on land to dip into the big blue and sail away – all ocean lovers are united by the watery adventures we take, the campfires we strike at sunset to cook our catches, and the feeling that life is better, simpler and richer when we live it within sight of the sea. That’s how we feel after 20 years afloat.
The Hunter and the Gatherer are who we are: David, the ever-hopeful angler; Catherine, a micro-gardener and forager; plus our little fish Maya, who has spent her entire life at sea. We can’t imagine a better way to live, raise a family and sate the adventurers in us.
Cruising is so much more than sailing. It’s about travel, exploring empty shores, and plunging into new cultures. It’s about taking time for our passions – freediving, surfing and fishing – and enduring and surviving whatever the sea sends our way. And it’s about living in harmony with the watery world that buoys, sustains, and challenges us in ways we sometimes never see coming.
More than twenty years in the making, this is a book for ocean-loving foodies striving for better health, greater self-sufficiency and a tiny footprint on the sea: sailors and boaties, anglers and divers, snorkellers and surfers, and everyone whose best adventures end with feet dug into the sand, watching the sunset with good mates and great food. Our food is for tiny galleys, long passages and perfect beach sunsets, and those times when food stocks might be low, but the fish are biting.
We call these recipes faraway food and create them for people who love to eat well but love to escape more. The food we cook in this book is the food we catch. Not every day on the sea brings in a fish, but we might harvest oysters instead, find a nice, fat mud crab, or forage for coconuts to crack. Some of our vegetables are boat-grown, and others are market-bought or traded off the back of our yacht. We sprout seeds grains and pulses to produce the healthiest, most sustainable menus imaginable in the most remote and beautiful locations we can reach. More than a recipe book, The Hunter and The Gatherer is a guide to creating a sustainable, healthful lifestyle on the sea with the smallest footprint possible.
If you are living on the ocean or dream to one day, we’ll show you how to set up a galley to feed yourself long after you leave the harbour, and how to grow, fish, forage, sprout, ferment, brew, and create your own ingredients, to inspire meals that will nurture you and your crew, wherever you sail.
The recipes – all 160 of them – have been tried and tested over 20,000 sea miles, in small spaces, with limited ingredients and sometimes relentless, rocking seas. These are the meals, bites, snacks and sundowners we like most and what we hope will feed you, too, when you are far, faraway.
Every day at sea is different. A day that’s blissful and fun can turn challenging in a heartbeat. There are inspiring days and daring days, times of terror and moments of such magnificence that we smile just remembering them. Yet all of this happy chaos brings an intimate connection with nature and the sea that, while not always peaceful, is deeply enriching. Nothing stops moving – not us, the sea, the boat, the fish. Even the galley moves while we are cooking. Plants are growing, bread is rising, seeds are sprouting, fish are being reeled in, and joyful kids are jumping off the bow.
None of these moments are taken for granted. Whether you are a seasoned salty or getting started on your watery journey, we hope you read this book and get excited about weighing anchor. We hope it arms you with answers and buoys you with the knowledge you need to tackle your big adventures. And we hope, in these pages, you glean what an extraordinary community of people is out there waiting, supporting each other, raising their families and being the village that seafaring people need. Most of all, we want you to be tantalised by good, fresh, sustainable food and all the amazing ways you can grow, catch, forage, harvest and cook with it.
Catherine, David and Maya