Friday, August 20, 2010

If you like "Kitchen Confidential" read....

Medium Raw

By Anthony Bourdain, hardcover, 304 pages, Ecco, list price: $26.99

With several books on national best-seller lists and his own Emmy-nominated TV show, No Reservations, seasoned, salty chef-turned-food-writer Anthony Bourdain is a far different man from the one he was a decade ago, when he released his first memoir, Kitchen Confidential. In that book, readers were introduced to someone for whom the vices of the food service industry — drugs, booze, late nights — were seemingly as integral to his livelihood as butter is to a roux.

Fast-forward 10 years. Bourdain is now wealthy, married (to his second wife) and a father, and a guy worldly enough to start sentences with "I often feel this way when alone in Southeast Asian hotel bars." But while the formerly heroin-addicted wild man may have hung up his more dangerous knives — and subsequently ended his assault on Rachael Ray — rest assured that his prose is as sharp as ever. Profane, funny and slightly mean, the Bourdain in Medium Raw is still acerbic; he has just wisely discovered that in life, as in cooking, it's important to balance bitterness with hints of sweet. (In this excerpt, Bourdain talks about teaching his young daughter to view American fast food culture "as the enemy.")

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