Wild by Cheryl Strayed: A Menu

There is no right way to react to grief, but I’m pretty sure we can all agree that heroin is the wrong way. Yet that is one of the paths Cheryl Strayed pursues in the wake of her mother’s death. Others include divorce, promiscuity, failing to finish school, and undertaking a solo trek into the wilderness with no training and boots that don’t fit. So, there’s a certain amount of idiocy to this book (from a cynical perspective), but it’s a charming idiocy.


Wild was chosen as part of Oprah’s (2.0) book club, so I won’t add a review to the millions that are already out there. This may be an exaggeration, but barely. To be fair, this book is far better than it’s whiny, obnoxious counterpart Eat, Pray, Love. Strayed realizes how unprepared she is when she first tries to pick up her pack, it’s only her stubbornness and blind grief that allow her to continue. She’s profane, exhausted, and a mess and she doesn’t hide that fact. She makes mistakes* – and has made mistakes – but she doesn’t quit. That has to be worth something – maybe six toe nails, some elephant skin, personal hygiene, and access to Snapple?

Instead, I will give you a menu according to bits and pieces of Cheryl’s hike.

Granola and Licorice

As Cheryl begins her hike, she discovers her stove doesn’t work. She brought the wrong gas. Oops! So there are various bits of dried food, milk substitute, jerky. And granola – if you’re going to eat granola, it might as well be delicious, flavorful granola, right? Try this maple apple granola (via A Cup of Jo). Everything is better with maple. If you could squeeze some bacon bits in this you’d be golden.

By the time she feels like she’s starving, she runs into Frank. She’s not so sure about Frank, but she gets in the truck anyway. In it there’s whiskey and licorice. Try this red cherry licorice recipe (full disclosure: I hate licorice and would never make this, but Cheryl was overjoyed, after weeks of what was essentially gruel, to eat six feet of Frank’s licorice (I have trouble taking that last sentence seriously. Because immature.).

Burger and Malt

In her first real stop – in a town called Ridgecrest – while hiking the PCT, Cheryl orders one of the first real meal she’s had in a quite some time (except for Frank’s generosity). Her choice: a cheeseburger with fries and a chocolate malt. She’s “shattered by each delicious bite”. Try this Insanity Burger by Jamie Oliver, the Tabasco Chipotle sauce sounds heavenly and pair it with a traditional chocolate malt.

If you’re still hungry, finish it off with a chocolate and vanilla twist cone – Cheryl’s first food purchased post hike – and a Snapple lemonade.

If you were to undertake a months long hike, which food would you miss the most? I would probably miss really good pizza the most.

*Okay. I’m going to be honest here. Strayed must have been the most attractive thing to ever walk the PCT because every man and his brother hit on her –even though she hadn’t showered or shaved in an absurdly long time. So Cheryl is relentlessly hot. And hiking a trail to escape promiscuity only to sleep with a man you don’t know (in a Wilco shirt – bonus points) seemingly defeats the purpose. This bothered me for reason I can’t quite articulate.


17 thoughts on “Wild by Cheryl Strayed: A Menu

  1. Oh dear, your post has reminded me that a year ago I WAS in one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants in London eating one of his hamburgers, which was absolutely delicious :))
    I wasn’t interested in this book, but since I’ve read a lot of reviews, now I feel like I have to read it, so…


    1. I’ve cooked a few of his recipes and always enjoyed them. I’ve never had one of his burgers, but I would eat almost anything the called for Chipotle Tabasco sauce.


  2. I really liked this book. Weirdly, it made me want to go hiking for a long period of time, although I would probably choose the Appalachian trail because I think there would be more shade. But, probably also more mosquitos. More than any animal, though, I would be scared of crazy men. I don’t think I could go alone.

    I had no idea you could make your own licorice!

    It bothered me, too, that she slept with that man. All the things before I understood in some way, but on the trail, it bothered me.


    1. This book made we want to hike too, just in a thoroughly prepared way – and on the Appalachian, although I’d consider just doing the Oregon portion of this trail or something like that. I have no desire to hike through hot deserts.


  3. This book has not interested me for as long as it’s been out. But now that it is becoming a movie, I am paying more attention. I don’t like the thought of seeing a movie that I know was a book.


  4. I was just given this book a s a secret Santa gift. I’ve been a little apprehensive about digging in, but since it is almost time for the movie I figure I’ll end up reading it soon enough. I just hate to not read a book first. Oh, and that burger = delicious! My in-laws usually buy us a Jamie Oliver cookbook at Christmas, I’m hoping that Comfort Foods is this years 🙂


    1. It’s such an easy read that I would definitely recommend it is you ever intend to see the movie, which is a pretty good adaptation.

      I will be having dreams about that burger until I (or someone else) make it.


  5. I love the idea of hiking and trying to find yourself on the trail, but she just bugged me. And then I saw her speak and I thought that she was a little full of herself, only to be told how wrong I was by someone I went to high school with, because her “girlfriend met her and loved her and is a good judge of character.” I am slightly intrigued by the movie, though, but I think that’s just because I’m anticipating some awesome, familiar, scenery.


  6. What a fantastic post, I could eat every single thing you wrote about here! I also didn’t love the book as much as Tiny Beautiful Things, and I was bothered with her sleeping with that guy, and I also had the strongest urge to go hiking! Hmm, I guess the book affected me more than I thought.


  7. I read this book long ago, before Oprah picked it, back when Cheryl was still Dear Sugar (whom I love love love). I like the book immensely and add me to the list of people who wanted to go on a long hike. Which is insane because I’m extremely anxious just walking alone in my own neighborhood. I put that down to the power of the writing. At any rate, I was moved.


  8. I don’t understand why you were bothered by her sleeping with that guy! He was hot. He liked Wilco. And she was messed up. It makes sense!


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