23 May 2011

A Cook’s Tour in search of the perfect meal

Originally published in October 2004, on my original 52 Books blog.

Author: Anthony Bourdain
Year published: 2001
Pages: 274
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. 

Technique:
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.

2 comments:

George said...

Are you okay? THE WEATHER CHANNEL keeps showing that volcano spewing ash into the atmosphere and it looks like visibility is zero. Scary!

Bibliophile said...

Thanks for your concern, George.

There is only a little bit of ash-fall where I am, not enough to worry anyone except possibly people with very bad asthma. It is worst closest to the volcano, about 250 to 300 km. away from where I am.

I was on a photography expedition a bit closer to the volcano yesterday and the ash cloud looked like a dirty pinkish-brown smear on the landscape. The ash is fairly heavy, so it falls quickly and hopefully the wind will shift soon and blow it over the highlands instead of over the towns and pastures near the volcano.