Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain (Harper, $26.99) Ten years after Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain is back with another brutal culinary tell-all. The sub-title A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook sums it up well. Many of the chefs he talks about fare well, he admires those who work hard and are honest with their audience. Teevee personalities and celebrity chefs are dished and dissected.
In the chapter Go Ask Alice, Tony serves up the back story to Alice Water's now famous crusade to "revolutionize" the White House kitchen and garden and why her hypocrisy was so offensive. He takes her to task for not having voted in 40-some years, but having the nerve to dictate a kitchen & staff she had not bothered to consider. He asks if her ideal world were to be realized, who would be willing to get up at 5am to gather those delicate local vegetables that all might eat organic, regional food in season?
But even by the end of this rant, he concludes that the world is a better place for her bringing attention to the way our food is produced and consumed.
Perhaps the most scathing chapter is Alan Richman is a Douchebag, where he writes of their long standing feud, and how Richman came to write an ugly review of the restaurant Bourdain used to work at 10 years earlier. But that is not what makes Richman a douchebag in his eyes. It is the snarky review of the New Orleans food scene soon after Katrina which draws his hatred. The article isn't available online, but the responses to it sure are.
Bourdain is equally unflinching in self-examination. He realizes how lucky he has been, and that the path through his early addictions surely brought him to this place. He is giddily happy with life now, and the reason for that is his two year old daughter. Parenthood will change all perspectives. He revels in being un-cool while utterly, devotingly doting on this miracle in his life. I recommend his "Black Ops" chapter Lower Education to any parent wishing to counteract the insidious propaganda of McDonald's on young minds.
Anthony Bourdain also has a challenge for all you would be foodies. Answer this question on his website and you might just get picked by him to be published in the paperback edition of Medium Raw:
Medium Raw is available from Jackson Street Books and other fine Independent bookstores.As always, books ordered here will have a freebie publishers Advance Reading Copy included as a thank you to our blogosphere friends.