by Rock ‘n Roll Ghost
It’s too easy to simply say “Anthony Bourdain doesn’t give a shit” when you hear that he lays to waste those that have harmed him, his Chef friends or food culture in general. It would seem that he cares too much when you read his latest work, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To the World of Food and the People Who Cook. Sure, he doesn’t have anything to lose – as he states in an interview with Eater.com : “I think I just reached a point in my life where I don’t have a reputation or a business to protect so I felt free to unburden myself. There have been a couple of elephants in the room who chef friends still in the business haven’t been able to point out” – but it’s always refreshing to have someone strip away the PR bullshit and shoot someone between the eyes who’s particularly nefarious or just obnoxious.
Writing in his trademarked style – that of a smart guy from a good background who falls in with the guys from the Bowery – Bourdain’s words practically fly off the page. You read Bourdain’s writing with his voice in your head – his patois, timing and delivery all coming together as if he’s right there in your mind reading – why Alan Richman is a douchebag, what New York restaurateur David Chang is doing that is so right, why Wolfgang Puck, despite being someone of great importance to Bourdain, is a villain and why his Ramones t-shirt has to go in the garbage now that he’s a father – all at your personal concert.
Medium Raw is being described as a follow-up to Bourdain’s breakout book Kitchen Confidential, but it doesn’t feel as if it is. That book was primarily Bourdain’s history as a Chef with some very strong passages about the restaurant world of the time. Here, Bourdain covers bits of his life, but it’s not as autobiographical as before. It comes across more as a combination of Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits, Bourdain’s 2006 collection of previously published stories for assorted newspapers, magazines and web writing.
Reviewing Bourdain essentially comes down to asking, do you enjoy reading an extraordinarily opinionated author discuss a subject they are an insider of? If you don’t like in your face writing, recoil in horror at an extremely liberal use of “foul language” and find yourself to be too refined to enjoy the occasional street cart hot dog, Medium Raw most likely ain’t for you. If you do, what are you waiting for already? Go grab yourself a copy.
Bourdain will be in Chicago tomorrow night, June 24th, at the Harold Washington Library Center (400 S. State Street) at 6 PM to discuss and sign copies of Medium Raw. The event is free, but seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis, so get there early.
The website for Medium Raw has an essay contest for fans to answer the question What does it mean to cook food well? If your piece is selected it will be included in the paperback edition of Medium Raw. See the below video for Bourdain discussing the contest.