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Monday, February 9, 2009

Currently Reading



From Barnes & Noble
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential exposed the dark secrets of the high-end restaurant business. In The Nasty Bits, he dishes out delightfully unbridled commentaries on his culinary travels and misadventures. This varied salad includes scathing critiques on food purists and celebrity chefs but also a few reviews that approach mystical rapture. Vibrant writing; spicy opinions.

From the Publisher
In the multiweek New York Times bestseller The Nasty Bits, bestselling chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain serves up a well-seasoned hellbroth of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures. Whether surviving a lethal hot pot in Chengdu, splurging on New York’s priciest sushi, or singing the praises of Ecuadorian line cooks and Hell’s Kitchen dives, Bourdain is as provocative, engaging, and opinionated as ever. The Nasty Bits is an irresistible tasting menu of food writing at its outrageous best—served up Bourdain style.

The New York Times - Bruce Handy
Bourdain is a vivid and witty writer, but his greatest gift is his ability to convey his passion for professional cooking — "this thing of ours," he calls it, a touch melodramatically, in tribute to La Cosa Nostra. With one eye on the kitchen and the other on the dining room, he never loses sight of how the terrestrial inevitably informs the divine.

Publishers Weekly
In this typically bold effort, Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential), like the fine chef he is, pulls together an entertaining feast from the detritus of his years of cooking and traveling. Arranged around the basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (a Japanese term for a taste the defies description), this scattershot collection of anecdotes puts Bourdain's brave palate, notorious sense of adventure and fine writing on display. From the horrifying opening passages, where he joins an Arctic family in devouring a freshly slaughtered seal, to a final work of fiction, the text may disappoint those who've come to expect more honed kitchen insights from the chef. Surprisingly, though, the less substantive kitchen material Bourdain has to work from only showcases his talent for observation. This book isn't for the effete foodies Bourdain clearly despises (though they'd do well to read it). He criticizes celebrity chefs, using Rocco DiSpirito as a "cautionary tale," and commends restaurants that still serve stomach-turning if palate-pleasing dishes, such as New York's Pierre au Tunnel (now closed), which offered t te de veau, essentially "calf's face, rolled up and tied with its tongue and thymus gland." Fans of Bourdain's hunger for the edge will gleefully consume this never-boring book. Author tour. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal
Bourdain does not suffer fools, airplane food, or pretension wisely. His latest non-cookbook-an essay collection divided into the flavors of salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and umami-makes for highly entertaining and sometimes shocking reading. Readers, in turn, will encounter a range of thoughts, from a challenging description of a seal being butchered for food to musings on Brazilian street food and the unsung French bistro classics like Rongons de Veau Dijonnaise and Tripes a la Mode de Caen and other old-fashioned dishes that some might feel are the "nasty bits" indeed. Lovers of adventurous culinary experiences will find much to whet their appetites here, and those who loathe the celebrity chef phenomena will find a friend in Bourdain. At the book's close are commentaries on the essays (many were previously published), which give the author the opportunity to revisit some strongly expressed opinions. His passion for food, pungent writing, and knowledge of the culinary world make this an excellent purchase for most public libraries.-Shelley Brown, Richmond P.L., Vancouver, B.C. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The globetrotting, guerrilla TV chef of ill repute serves up some journalistic odds and ends. A garrulous, sublimely talented chap with an eminently respectable couple of New York brasseries and a load of opinions to spare, Bourdain (A Cook's Tour, 2001, etc.) remains an anomaly in the Food Network era. Instead of running a chain of big-ticket, big-ego eateries, he roams the world consuming massive quantities of strange food and prodigious drink, adding snarky commentary and turning it all into a TV show of sorts. Along the way, he writes for several publications, from Gourmet to the Los Angeles Times; a good selection of those writings are collected here. Subjects include other celebrity chefs (Rocco DiSpirito "messed with the bitch goddess celebrity and got burned"), the best bars for adrenaline-jacked kitchen crews to get hammered in the wee hours (in Chicago, it's Matchbox) and the proper definition of cooking ("a cult of pain"); somehow it all flows together with nary a seam in view. But there is some repetition and, unlike most writers with an edge, he's better at being nice. Scourging attacks sometimes fall flat for lack of variety, while puff pieces offer the finest examples of foodie enthusiasm. Indulging in Masa Takayama's insanely expensive sushi is "like having sex with two five-thousand-dollar-a-night escorts at the same time-while driving an Aston Martin." The unfathomable wizardry of Spain's mad-chef genius Ferran Adria is "hugely enjoyable, challenging to the world order, innovative, revolutionary."A vibrant discourse on satisfying hungers of every kind.