Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review -- Medium Raw

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Let’s get this out up front: The F bomb is ABUNDANT in Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw. It’s how he has made a living – first as a foul mouth chef, now as a foul mouth TV travel host. The F bomb is so copious that if it were buck-shot loaded into a shot gun and fired at the book, all you would have left hanging from the spine was a few tattered pages that looked a lot like Swiss cheese. But if you have read his first book, Kitchen Confidential, or followed his TV show, you would know this – so I was prepared for battle when I cracked the cover on his most recent rant, restaurant subculture tell-all, memoir.

In essay style – Mr. Bourdain takes on every known enemy from Food Network, to Alice Waters (the Mother Theresa of the organic, sustainability food movement) to Ronald McDonald himself. He gives us background into the secrets of Top Chef (but not as much as I would have liked!). He talks bluntly about protecting his daughter from the chicken nugget, his suicidal moments following the end of his first marriage and tasting menus at 4 star restaurants (oh, and a superstar chef, named David Chang, who I had to Google to figure out who he was).

But his most brilliant chapter/essay is My Aim is True – about Justo Thomas, who is in charge of preparing all the fish for Le Bernardin – Chef extraordinaire Eric Ripert’s celebrated restaurant. In exquisite form, Mr. Bourdain takes us through a “day in the life” of Justo, as crates of every known type of fish must be filleted, scaled, deboned, and precisely portioned out for the various chef’s preparations. It is like a seafood symphony what this man is able to accomplish. And at the end, Mr. Bourdain does something that proves he isn’t as hard-hearted as he appears to be.

I sheepishly admit I like Mr. Bourdain’s snarky, snide, comic, vitriolic, commentary. I love his show and loved KC. This book, however, seemed like much of the same – and even I – who was prepared for the language, grew weary of reading yet another expletive -- which is why this is a 2 star book and not a 3.

So, if you are interested at all in reading Medium Raw – I would recommend (much against the publisher’s wishes) finding yourself a big comfy chair at Barnes & Noble (or your book store du jour) pulling a copy from the shelves and reading the chapters entitled Lower Education, I’m Dancing, and My Aim is True. You’ll be spared many of the F bombs, but left with some of the most emotional and best writing of the book.

Book source:  Gift for me my husband.

1 comment:

Amused said...

I too love his show for this very style but feared that a book of this somehow might get tiring! Man, you need to find a book that you love this month, don't you?!