Jim was hungry, thirsty, joyously friendly, and characteristically overeager for the first course to come out of the kitchen. Jim’s appetite was legendary, and nothing makes a cook quite so happy as someone who exists entirely to eat—and when not eating, to talk about eating, to hunt and fish for things to eat, or to spend time after eating talking about what we just ate. […]
Jim and I shared many qualities: an unending appetite, inhaling life to the full chorizo, finding hilarious and playful nuance in every breath and every moment, but I always was and remain the student. Jim was sharper, more in tune with the distant cry of the loon over the lake while fishing on a lazy Tuesday morning, more sensitive to the moonlight over Washington Square Park on a dusk walk toward the Babbo apartment, where he sometimes stayed. Jim lived art not as a method to distill his thoughts but as a categorical way of understanding life, a quest to quench an insatiable thirst for all it put before him. And to share that understanding with any and every person he met. […]
Jim once wrote of a character, “He’s literally taking bites out of the sun, moon, and earth,” which is what he himself spent a lifetime doing. Damn, he was my hero.
~ Mario Batali, from “Inhaling Life” (The New Yorker, March 18, 2017). This text was drawn from the introduction to “A Really Big Lunch: Meditations on Food and Life from the Roving Gourmand,” by Jim Harrison, which is out on March 24th.