Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Mad Man in the Kitchen

"Medium Raw; A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook" by Anthony Bourdain Harper Collins 281 pages $26.99

Professional athletes spend time going over game films played by enemy teams and to a degree, professional writers study other pros (especially the top sellers) to see how they did it and if we can steal anything from the more successful guys. Writers are the biggest thieves in history. We know this. We don't care.

Bourdain's style could be broken down into chef's terms -- 1/4 cup generous praise for other chefs; 1/4 cup self-deprecation "So-and-so is a chef; I'm just a cook" and about half a cup of rage -- he hates Alice Waters (and apparently she's an airhead) he regrets ever having said never to order fish on a Monday ("It's a leftover, jerk!") and various other grits and grudges involving the early Food Network, Rachel Ray (I hate her, too) and some restaurant and food critics.

Even knowing this -- his style, why and how he does it like he does -- truly creative descriptions, lots and lots of profanity -- I can sit down with one of his books and be instantly captivated, dead entirely to anything else I should be doing (cleaning, cooking, laundry come to mind.)

Bourdain is passionate about food. Preparing it, serving it, eating it. But... this description of the mood at the end of a successful night seems a bit much. "You look at each other with the intense camaraderie of people who have suffered together and think, 'We did well tonight. We will go home proud.'"

"Suffered together"? Bit over the top, but then again, so is Bourdain. And I love it!

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