Top positive review
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A book for those who love food
on 23 April 2012
I really enjoy Bourdain's show `No Reservations' where he visits different parts of the world, experiencing new cultures and cuisine- and have been wanting to read one of his books for a while. This one comprises two of his travel/food memoirs so I thought it would be the ideal read.
What I appreciated upon opening the first page was that Bourdain writes in pretty much the same way as he speaks on his programmes- his voice comes through clearly in your head. There is no pretention with him, he is open and honest and whilst he knows his stuff culinary wise, he also doesn't shy away at all from painful/uncomfortable memories. The reader immediately ascertains that he is honest, particularly about his own experiences and his `misspent youth.' I came away from reading this with a lot of respect for the guy.
`Kitchen Confidential' recalls Bourdain's early childhood experiences with food and what made him decide to be a chef. It is a real insider's look at the restaurant business within the United States with some thinly veiled tips on how not to operate in a restaurant- as well as what to/not to order on a given day. It is laced with black humour but has its poignant moments too. Bourdain's `rebellious' streak comes to the fore- he can be a real bad-ass on occaision and his struggles with drugs in the 1980's is not held back. Though I enjoyed this book, some of the profanity got a bit dull towards the end- maybe that was because I was just anticipating reading book two of the omnibus?! Overall I give this 3/5.
Of the two novels, I much preferred `A Cook's Tour,' as I found myself engrossed in some of Bourdain's eating adventures in far-flung parts of the globe- Cambodia, Tokyo and... Glasgow to name but a few?! It also left me with a burning ambition to visit `The French Laundry' restaurant in California and try Thomas Keller's spectacular sounding menu- El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal's restaurant have now dropped down the list, thanks to this book. Oh well, maybe one day!
The book is again humorous and poignant in places, with lots of background to the making of the television show that the novel is based on. It did however leave me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth with some of the animal slaughtering aspects which wasn't glossed over in any way. It will be a long time before I eat pork again, I can tell you that much- and turkey- and I will never, ever eat a lizard now (not that I had considered it before!). This isn't a book for vegetarians, believe me, though Bourdain of course does respect where his food comes from. Overall, I rate this book 4/5.
If you enjoy well written travel and food writing and don't mind profanity-laden sentences, then I would suggest that you check this out!