BOOK REVIEW: Red Meat For Raw Men

[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

BALTIMORE CITY PAPER: It’s 10 years since Anthony Bourdain delivered Kitchen Confidential, the “obnoxious, over-testosteroned account of my life in the restaurant business” as he told The Observer in 2006. A classic of its kind, Confidential was a pugnacious, take-no-prisoners look into the murky world of restaurant kitchens and the misfits and miscreants who inhabit them. Above all, it was brilliantly written and had the ring of truth–a memoir/rant by one of the culinary world’s foot soldiers, a battle-scarred veteran who’d done his time and lived to tell the frequently sordid and bourdain-medium-raw.jpgsalacious tale. Cooks across the globe raised their glasses in recognition of one of their own, and Bourdain became a celebrity of sorts, a role model for wannabe bad boy chefs, as inspired by the Stooges and the Ramones as Thomas Keller or Wylie DuFresne.

Things have changed now and not always for the better. Celebrity chefs are ubiquitous, and the internet is awash with web sites where culinary crypto-fascists debate the relative merits of goose fat and pork belly with a fervor that verges on the maniacal. The Food Network grows ever more gargantuan, threatening to drown us all in a vast ocean of crapulent mediocrity. Trends come and go like so much foodie flotsam and jetsam (molecular gastronomy, sous vide, “foams” with everything, etc.), and it feels as though you can barely move without bumping into some tattooed Bourdain acolyte with questionable social skills and a penchant for boudin noir.

This is the situation in which you find the man himself in Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (Ecco), stepping back into the gastronomic arena and letting rip as he sees fit, in a series of, for the most part, hugely entertaining essays on everything from the dubious nature of gourmet burgers, interminable multi-course tasting menus, and why GQ‘s venerable food critic, Alan Richman, is such a “douchebag.” MORE

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