Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cookbook review: Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Not a cookbook, I know. But it's Anthony Bourdain's new book ($14.57 at Amazon). Anthony Bourdain is my hero.

For those of you who don't know, Anthony Bourdain is the former-head-chef-at-Les-Halles-turned-international-bestselling-author-and-crazy-TV-personality responsible for the book Kitchen Confidential and Travel Channel's "No Reservations." He has the job I want--traveling the world and eating things. And writing about them. And making a TV show about them. How awesome is that? Plus he's super hot. He's got that whole bad boy chef thing going on, along with a filthy mouth, a razor-sharp wit, a keenly refined hatred of vegetarians and picky eaters, and several kick-ass tattoos. How could I NOT like him?

OK, enough of that. His new book is essentially a loose collection of essays, and while some of them are long boring rants about specific food critics or whatever, there are also some gems (including the top-secret dinner involving most of the world's most famous chefs, in which they all consume the world's rarest and most illegal treat, ortolans). Like Bourdain himself, the book is a little uneven, but it's still compulsively readable and very entertaining, even if most of us could care less about most of his pet peeves.

The best parts, I thought, were about his old life, before celebrity stardom. When he was a forty-something washed-up career chef, working at no-star dives, trying to simultaneously break a cocaine-and-heroin habit and stay one step ahead of his many creditors. THAT'S the book I want him to write. I bet there are some great stories in that book.

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