Friday, July 20, 2007
If you see this man, keep your children away from him. He is a bad man. He is angry, vulgar, belligerent, and ill-tempered. He is also a world-class chef. He is Anthony Bourdain. Kitchen Confidential, his first delve into the world of auto-biography, is an un-polished and brutally honest look into the world of cooks and cooking, past the clean white linens and seemingly effortless dance of waitrons, cooks, busboys and maitre d's at your favorite restaurant. As Bourdain says himself, this is a book for cooks and about cooks. It is not meant to frighten the general public away from eating out or trying new and exciting foods. In fact, it is meant to do the opposite: Bourdain shows with clarity and honesty what it means to become a cook, to work as a cook, to know and love food; in essence to show just what it is like to be the person cooking YOUR food.
There are plenty of notable passages, paragraphs you will no doubt be repeating to your friends and loved ones when the subject of cooking or restaurants comes up; you will never be able to forget why for instance you should never order fish on Monday or why hollandaise sauce may not be such a good idea for breakfast after all. As an aspiring home cook and someone who loves to learn about food and cooking as much as I love to actually preparing food, and after reading this book, there is A LOT I have to learn.
Seeing as we all have to eat, and unless there are people out there who are willing to subsist on bland protein and starch combinations, we actually like to ENJOY whatever we push into our maws. So it seems to me that it would be in just about every one's interest to learn what happens to your food before it is set in front of you. Bourdain will take you there: He will gross you out, scare you a little, and you may not look at the people preparing your food the same way again. But he will also make you want more, and maybe just a little bit more adventurous. And maybe, just maybe, the next time you have the chance you might give those raw oysters or escargot a try. Maybe.