Tuesday, October 4, 2011



If you want a book that is written well, by a full-of-himself jackass, with some heavy New York city crass...well, this is your book. The writing style is wonderful. You can't argue that Bourdain has a way with words (and uses the four letter ones more than most) and can pull you into a story, even if the contents is worlds away. But, when the content is just Tony griping about 'sell out' celebrity chefs and cream of the crop food critics it makes for less than appetizing reading.

In my mind the book was split into three parts. The first dozen or two dozen pages were great. A quick story about eating an Ortolan Bunting (read the wikipedia link, it's very interesting). It's a 'meal' where you shove an entire bird in your mouth and eat it all except the feet, which is kind of used like a handle to put the bird in. You cover your head with a napkin, b/c I'm sure it is disgusting to watch. Anthony writes in graphic detail about the tastes and the textures and the brains. His attitude is bang on Bourdain - I'm part of this elite club of 'chefs' who eat endangered birds in the most disgusting way possible and I think I'm so cool about it. The kind of content that makes your blood boil, but, keeps your eyes glued to the page to see what other egotistical things Tony is going to say.

He then opens up a bit and loses his elitist attitude. He talks about his struggles with drugs and the breakdown of his marriage. It is raw writing, not medium raw (if you'll forgive the pun). I actually felt a bit of compassion for the guy and was drawn in. Then you flip a page and boom the attitude hits you.

The second part of the book, the next two hundred or so pages (about 95% of the book) were pretty raw too. But, this kind of writing was not baring your soul raw, it was ripping someone's arm off raw...with a lot of swearing in the process. Bourdain bashes countless people, with extreme overuse of profanity - just to prove he is a bad boy I suppose? He fries up The Food Network. He burns celebrity chefs. He cuts up chefs I've never heard of, but, probably would know if I were in the food business. He broils up a pan full of food critics. He even hacks a piece off of the meat slaughtering industry. Two hundred pages of his rantings. He is mad at the world for some unknown reason and his misplaced anger leads to the bulk of this book. Sum it up, the content is bland...but, the prose is excellent. If you get past the lack of a story or any sense of purpose (and that 'I'm a badboy' attitude) the actual writing is wonderful. Bourdain makes great analogies, and his descriptions of places and food is hard to beat.

The last dozen pages or so are also wonderful. Again, Anthony drops the attitude and the anger and just shares a couple of memories. I love his stories of strange things that happen in the kitchen or even stranger people that work them - that is what made Kitchen Confidential so great to read. This 'sequel' was another book I've thrown on the sequels-that-sucked bookshelf.


*Actually, just read the first few pages and the last few pages.

I think this link will give you at least an attempt at understanding Bourdain's attitude LINK

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