A Cook’s Tour – Anthony Bourdain

by janet on December 30th, 2009

Anyone who has read Kitchen Confidential (a book I recently recommended to RK who asked “What’s a book that anyone would like?”) falls in love with Anthony Bourdain – that cynical, drug-addled, rail-thin badass chef who is decidedly uncuddly yet still very much a teddy bear.

So I picked up another one of his books at Green Apple and dug in. It’s the perfect food book to read before bed, because oftentimes reading straight up food books at that hour precipitates grumbly stummies and an encore dinner.  A Cook’s Tour, however, is chock full of splendidly witty episodic descriptions, my favorite of which was not even about food (a common comment I get re: MTFB, by the way):

Chris has no particular reason to love me. I bullied him without mercy as a child, tried, in a fit of jealous rage, to bludgeon him to death as a infant (fortunately for us both, my chosen instrument was a balloon), blamed him constantly for crimes of which I was invariably the true perpetrator, then stood by and listened gleefully as he was spanked and interrogated.  He was forced to watch the endlessly unfolding psychodrama at the dinner table when I’d show up late, stoned, belligerent, a miserable, sullen, angry older brother with shoulder-length hair and a bad attitude, who thought Abbie Hoffman and Eldridge Cleaver had it about right – that my parents were fascist tools, instruments of the imperialist jackboot, that their love was what was holding me back from all those psychedelic drugs, free love, and hippie-chick pussy I should have been getting had I not been twelve years old and living at home. The fights, the screaming matches, the loud torments of my painful and pain-inducing early adolescence – he saw it all.  And it probably screwed him up good.  On the plus side, however, I had taught the little bastard to read by the time he was in kindergarten. And I did keep my mouth shut when he finally decided he’d had enough and coshed me over the head with a pig-iron window counterweight. (p. 30)

Maybe I resonated with this because I had a similar experience growing up with my own sibling, albeit a girlier and more AZN version.  And I don’t know who Abbie Hoffman is, nor Eldridge Cleaver.

The book takes you through his exploits as Food Network sends him around the world in search of the Perfect Meal.  It’s very meta.  You realize while vodka and ice baths in a Russian resort or hanging out in your childhood rustic French home or eating a still-beating cobra heart or a fuckin FREE meal at French Laundry all sound faboo, working a TV show is hard hard work. His favorite country by far, culinarily, seems to be Vietnam, which has firmly put that country on my must-go list.  Right below my MUST MUST GO place, which is wherever the nearest cobra is so I can end his life by nomming on his <3.

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