Friday, November 11, 2011

Medium Raw

Life really derailed my blogging these past couple of months - both figuratively and literally.  Reading Keith Richard's book slowed me down and work and life just kind of kept getting in the way of me sitting down to write some reviews.

So, on to it.  After Keith, I continued on the memoir theme and picked up chef Anthony Bourdain's Medium Raw.  I'm a Tony Bourdain groupie.  I loved Kitchen Confidential for bringing to the light of day, the counterculture of the food scene, the real food scene: behind the curtain and focusing on the people who actually work the food scene.  But my infatuation really started with his short lived show "A Cook's Tour," where Bourdain went around the world looking for truly authentic and crazy food experiences.

Bourdain doesn't pull any punches - in anything.  He has been praised and highly criticized.  He has been called a hypocrite and has been maligned by fellow chefs and food writers.  What I love about him is he just doesn't seem to care.  Bourdain knows what he is and what he isn't.  He isn't a celebrity chef.  As he says about himself, he's barely a chef anymore.  He is definitely a fan of food - food that he appreciates and he is an entertaining writer.

That's what this book is about and he makes no bones about it.  This is HIS opinion.  If you like, great.  If not, whatever.  He happily waxes philosophic on the revered Ferran Adria and his El Bulli - probably the most famous restaurant in the world which closed this year.  He then takes on Alice Waters, the "queen of slow food" in "death by a thousand cuts" fashion through small and increasingly sharp barbs.

The best chapter though, is called My Aim is True and it is a love letter to Justo Thomas, the fish butcher at Le Bernardin.  This is where Bourdain's talents as a food writer, observer and fan come shining through.  As I read this, I could actually feel his awe and utter respect for this man whose one job is to prepare all of the fish at this venerable restaurant.

Everything else is kind of like reading food gossip porn complete with sexual analogies, a spectacular potty mouth and polarizing opinions.  I loved every morsel.

On another note, the Gillers were this week.  I didn't get to watch it which bummed me out, but I do have four of the shortlisted books, including the winner.  So stay tuned for Giddy for Giller 2011 edition!