Originally published in October 2004, on my original 52 Books blog.
Year published: 2001
Genre: Travel, food
Where got: Public library
I’ve wanted to see the TV series ever since I read about it on a cooking website, but for now I will have to make do with the book.
This is the story of Bourdain’s round-the-world journey in search of interesting food and eating situations. This was first just supposed to be a travel-foodie book, but then Television got involved, and he ended up traveling around with a TV crew in tow. Some of the visits yielded plenty of delicious food, like the visit to The French Laundry in California, others were nostalgic and unfulfilling like the trip to France, and still others pointless, like the journey to Pailin in Cambodia.
The dining experiences were sometimes exotic, often delicious, at other times scary or just horrible. Some brought the intrepid chef face to face with his food, still on the hoof, or swimming, crawling or slithering around, others brought him into situations where he whished he had never ordered the dish in question, and still others where he had to eat something he never wanted to eat in the first place but had to because it made good television.
Bourdain is still as profane, self-deprecating, straight-forward and likeable as he was in his previous bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential. The style is somewhere between a hard-boiled detective novel and a regular travel book, full of hyperbole and good humour. Unlike Kitchen, the narrative does not jump from one subject to another, which makes the narrative more structured.
Rating: My two favourite non-fiction genres - food and travel - combined in one great book. 5 stars.