Thursday, December 8, 2011
Book Review - Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Title: Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Publisher: Ecco, June 2010
I first read Kitchen Confidential several years ago in the beginnings of my college years. I was an avid home cook, had never cooked in a real kitchen, and idealized the strage, dark world of restaurants he discussed. I was intensely interested and it seemed, to an extent, romantic.
After some time I cooking in real restaurant kitchens, they are not as he described in Kitchen Confidential. You may have the maladjusted drug addicts, the over confident chefs, the unclean work areas and the incestuous relations between the cooks and the waitstaff and the most badass people in the universe, but you won't have them all in one place. More often than not (in my experience) the older chefs have reformed from the drug addled days of the 1980s and the younger chefs still treat the kitchen like their frat house. It's still a man's world but you're not expected the sear your hand on the planche to cauterize a bad cut mid-service. There will be a few of these moments, but they are not ubiquitous.
While Bourdain seemed jaded yet energetic in his writings of Kitchen Confidential, he seemed both jaded and tired in Medium Raw. His fame has exhausted him and you can tell from his writing. You can almost hear him narrating each chapter during the commercial break of No Reservations. The chapters are disconnected and cover his life since writing Kitchen Confidential. His narrative style is still enjoyable, but it feels as if there is something missing. It can only be expected after years of writing, travel, television and the bullshit that goes along with it. It's good for what it is, but you'll be disappointed if you're looking for something with the original shock value of Kitchen Confidential.
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