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Medium Raw is subtitled 'A Bloody Valentine To The World Of Food And The People Who Cook' an unwieldy sentence which doesn't actually mean very much, and means even less when you read the book: Medium Raw is a collection of leftovers, chopped up and shaped into book form, and deep fried in marketing hype. I had gotten the impression this was going to be an autobiography of Mr. Bourdain's post 'Kitchen Confidential' years, but there's no cohesive thread to the book at all: It ranges from a diatribe against tasting menus to a piece about taking his four-year old daughter to dance class. There are some meaty bits amongst all the starchy filler - Bourdain is wonderful at writing about food and the food industry - but a lot of it is inexcusably self-indulgent: an entire chapter is devoted to dishing the dirt on an obscure (to non-New Yorkers, anyway)food critic who's insulted Bourdain in a restaurant review: Another piece 'Heroes and Villains' reads like it was knocked up in a few hours purely to fill up a few more pages. In short, there's just not enough meat on the plate here to justify charging for a full meal.
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on 29 June 2010
I have been an admirer of Anthony Bourdain since the release of 'Kitchen Confidential' ten years ago. His writing is always good, whether in his fiction, his travel writing or in memoir. It is, however, when writing about cooks and cooking that his prose comes truly alive. His passion for food and those involved in its preparation, from the imagination required to produce a tasting menu at the French Laundry to the mental stamina and physical skill involved in `cutting' 700lbs of fish in 5 hours, has not diminished over the years. If anything, the personal and professional changes in his life, and they have been startling, have fired his enthusiasm and, in some memorable instances, his anger. The `Heroes & Villains' chapter is a delight to read not least because he can turn a phrase, but because he is unafraid when choosing his targets and the language used to skewer them.
The chapter on `Virtue' is a stand out because it acts as neat summation of the sensibility of an intelligent sensualist. Writing about food and the pleasure associated with eating and cooking is, as Anthony Bourdain points out, extremely difficult without resorting to the banalities of `food porn' so ubiquitous in the culture. In 'Medium Raw' he avoids cliché or cheap observations to produce a fresh, honest and thoughtful take on subjects that ought to be of interest to everyone. Buy copies for yourself and people you like.
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"Medium Raw" by Anthony Bourdain is a new book written by this notorious chef who previously wrote an excellent book "Kitchen Confidential" and led very popular show "No Reservations".

"Medium Raw" somehow can be seen as sequel to "Kitchen Confidential" although ten years had passed and lot of things had changed in the food industry.
And due to that it should be honest and say that this book is of a bit lower quality compared to his previous work, although it has lots of qualities for which it should be read.

Its best parts are those when Anthony is telling the stories from the cook line, when he's describing fantastic dishes and when he is telling stories about his private life, how he feels being father for the first time, and being husband the second.
What was totally unnecessary and actually spoiled the experience of the whole book is a part where he talks about Food Network and other cooks that are probably completely unknown to wider audience and therefore uninteresting.

Although I didn't previously heard about the guy, the particularly touching part of the book is when Anthony is telling story about Justo Thomas, a man who works at the New York restaurant Le Bernardin.
Thomas became famous due to his skills of quick fish filleting, allegedly he can shift 1000 pounds of fish a day, a job that takes three men when Thomas is away.
I hope that Thomas would be still there when I'll come to that restaurant, just to try his fish fillets.

Overall, this whole book was like speaking to Anthony Bourdain or listening to him while in same time eating some good meal.
And if there weren't those unnecessary parts, and the previous book which showed that the author can do even better, such conversation would deserve the highest grade.
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on 21 March 2014
I love Tony - don't get me wrong. I read Kitchen Confidential and laughed like a drain. I cried reading the chapter about looking for his father in France - while I was at the place in the book. But Tony Tony Tony - what is this? Even the swearing seems tacked on. We love the bitter cynic. We loved that you appeared to want to napalm Mario. This is, is well no spoilers but it's Kitchen Confidential from 15 years away. Minus a lot of humour and with lots of grovelling and name dropping. It was hard to read Tony - I nearly gave up. Still love you but can the next one be more Tony and less TV presenter lovey? Please?
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on 30 October 2010
A Bourdain has nothing to say in this book. Read K Confidential, A Cook's Tour, and The Nasty Bits. NOT this one.
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This is the follow-up to 'Kitchen Confidential', a book that contained rage not just at circumstances, but at life itself - that was a book full of dark joy, and the energy needed to write it - let alone to live that way - was the sort of level that could never be sustained by anyone who wasn't a complete maniac.

Which, I have to say, I thought Anthony was. I now realise he's just as 'normal' as the rest of us - pretty much nuts then, but coping with it from day to day. He's written the book about his past, and this is the book about his present. He's not doing the Class A drugs any more, and there's a more calm and collected sense of perspective about things - he's in a place that he himself admits he could ever have imagined possible a few years ago.

AB has a really great way of writing about things - I *hated* his attempts at writing fiction; they were in the style of Raymond Chandler, but they came across more like 'soft boiled' rather than 'hard boiled' - he's far more comfortable telling things the way they are. So, in this book you get stories about insane girlfriends with too much cash, his opinion of 'Food Network', all these sort of things. There's a great section called 'Food Porn' which just describes (in quite fantastic detail) his favourite meals. I've been lucky enough to have had one of them, and believe me - he's right on the money when he's writing about food.

He describes - and interviews - a few of the characters in the professional kitchen world (a terrible phrase, but you know what I mean, I hope); there's a great little profile of this guy who prepares fresh fish for a TOP restaurant; he's nothing to look at, but he can do the job twice as quickly as three others can when he's not there - the way AB uses his words, you're there with him, cutting, skinning, gutting and scaling. I worked as a fishmonger for a year or two, and it brought it all back.

Another favourite episode of mine is when he writes about how he counteracts the advertising power of McDonalds with his young child - you'll have to read the book if you want to find out more, as it's very amusing, but not really printable on Amazon.

He's painfully honest about why he disapproves of certain people (and to be fair, they seem to deserve it), but at the same time he's obviously very loyal to the friends he has, too. I really enjoyed this book (I read small chunks on trains and waiting rooms over the course of a month); it won't disappoint.
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on 3 November 2015
Bourdain is not always to everyone's tastes, but he and his shows were an almost constant companion on my own time overseas, and I enjoy his outlook on food. His voice develops with his shows, and he has a deep appreciation of food, and what it represents to different people and cultures. This book reveals more of Bourdain's past, parts that I was not familiar with, and it is interesting to see how he arrived at where he is today. It does have sections that are him lambasting others, and getting the last laugh, which I didn't enjoy as much as the rest of it. If you like Bourdain, and don't mind some strong language, then you'll enjoy this.
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Say what you want about this book, the author's passion for food shines through. So, foodies will love much about this book. Those who enjoy being in the know about restaurateurs and chefs will also be over the moon with this book. Those who enjoy a well-written book, however, will be disappointed.

Written as a series of essays that don't necessarily mesh and filled with four letter expletives throughout, the book is a bit of a slog. Our potty-mouthed author could certainly have used the services of a good editor to give this book a little more polish. It is written as if the author needed money and dashed off this book, a jumble of thoughts not all that cohesively put together.

While the author's innate, self-deprecating charm comes through, and he certainly has a lot of inside poop and opinions on many of the dominant figures in the world of chefs and restaurants, it somehow gets a little lost in the stream of consciousness approach to this book. Consequently, the author and the book come off as self-indulgent rather than colorful.

If you are a foodie, you will want to read this book. Do yourself a favor, however, and borrow it from the library rather than buy it.
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on 18 July 2010
Before you buy this be warned. This is NOT the sequel to Kitchen Confidential. It sort of gives the impression it is, hence four stars not five.
I have been a massive fan of Mr Bourdain since first reading Kitchen Confidential and A Cooks Tour. If you haven't read them, start there. This is much like his book The Nasty Bits in that it is a series of unconected chapters about parts of his life and his thoughts on the world of food. For me it is roar out load funny and as vicious and biting as Bourdain can be. The chapter about his time in the Caribean after his first marriage ended is remarkable soul baring stuff.
I would say I think you need to be a fan already to get the most out of this book. If you are, you will love it. If not, start with Kitchen Confidential and you soon will be.
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on 2 July 2014
Before reading this, I thought Anthony Bourdain was a celebrity French chef.

Then one day he popped up on a cable TV channel and, lo and behold, turned out to be a good old American presenter who spends his time traveling the world and eating food in street markets.

Spiders fried in pepper sauce in Rangoon, starlings stewed in vinegar in Corsica, grasshoppers dipped in palm oil in Madagascar, vampire bat cutlets in Transylvania, goat entrails with reindeer brains in Kamchatka and jellied bear claws with baby scorpions in Syria. He has gone where no man's stomach has gone before, eaten everything up and lived to tell the tale.

I have since learned that he was never a chef but worked in a restaurant in New York for some years and wrote a book in which he exposed what goes on in the kitchen that those of us in the dining room don't know - or don't want to know - about.

This book explains how he shifted "career" from chopping onions to posing for the camera and writing travelogues. He also manages to sound like a jaded rock star when he recounts the days when he was into drugs. (Yawn, yawn, we've heard it all before, Mr. B.)

Bourdain would probably be entertaining in small doses. However, 250 pages is enough. Homespun philosophy about how he raises his adorable little daughter appears alongside foul-mouthed rants about people in the food business most of us have never heard of. Lots of humdrum thoughts about nothing of any importance pad it out.

I suspect Bourdain is one of those media creations who is famous because he is famous and takes himself too seriously despite his attempts to show how he is really just a laidback guy like the rest of us.

If you don't have anything to say Mr. Bourdain, then don't say anything and please don't be tempted to write a sequel.
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