Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and
Bourdain at his scathing best.This is for the serious foodie or fan of Bourdain’s storytelling style I’ll admit he wasn’t always the warmest individual, but he was a gifted writer and narrator and I enjoyed his biting wit and ability to skewer in the light what others merely whispered in the dark.In this collection of essays he takes on raw food enthusiasts, multicourse meals, the Food Network and the usual suspects of the culinary world His essay about Alice Waters whom he once called Pol Pot in a Mumu, is unapologetic in his continued disdain And gaspingly delightful For me the most noteworthy essay was that of an employee at Le Bernardin, arguably the best seafood restaurant in the world, a gentleman who toils away for hours every day cleaning and cutting fish to exacting standards Bourdain’s respect for this man is evident in every word, his reverence for the task he performs shows us what he valued Whatever anyone else might say, his love and respect for food and those that prepare it always towered above all else, just as in Kitchen Confidential.I listened to the audio narrated by Bourdain in February 2019, but had forgotten to note it and recently came across, Bourdain Remembered, in which friends and fans share their memories Love or hate him, he was one of a kind.Read February 2019 In the ten years since his classic Kitchen Confidential first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out, from Monday fish to the breadbasket conspiracy, much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant businessand for Anthony Bourdain Medium Raw explores these changes, moving back and forth from the author's bad old days to the present Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globetraveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood, Bourdain takes no prisoners as he dissects what he's seen, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in foodBeginning with a secret and highly illegal afterhours gathering of powerful chefs that he compares to a mafia summit, Bourdain pulls back the curtain—but never pulls his punches—on the modern gastronomical revolution, as only he can Cutting right to the bone, Bourdain sets his sights on some of the biggest names in the foodie world, including David Chang, the young superstar chef who has radicalized the finedining landscape; the revered Alice Waters, whom he treats with unapologetic frankness; the Top Chef winners and losers; and many And always he returns to the question Why cook? Or the difficult Why cook well? Medium Raw is the deliciously funny and shockingly delectable journey to those answers, sure to delight philistines and gourmands alike I like Anthony Bourdain in part because he admits the miniempire he’s created is a good paying gig and he feels fortunate to have landed it Bourdain’s a paradox in that his streetlevel authenticity is one of his strengths but, at the same time, he admits he’s loaded and gets all the privileges associated with his celebrity While he selfdepreciates with the best of them he’s also not nearly off the cuff, I think, as he’d like his fans to believe He’s like a lessfrantic Klosterman except withtalent and knowledge of his field And he recognizes authenticity, however staged, makes good writing and television If you were to put him, say, on Rachel Ray’s show, even after he’s slammed her in print, he could both talk with her courteously and impart the idea that he’s not buying into the Food Network entertainer concept while he’s on her very show on that very network That’s a rare skill.Now that Bourdain’s done the food memoir (Kitchen Confidential), the travel book (A Cook’s Tour), and the articles/outtakes collection (The Nasty Bits), I was skeptical of Medium Raw because I’m not sure about what else he could write without retreading easy literary marks Medium Raw, however, is successful for fans (I think I’ve seen every No Reservation episode and have admitted to a Bourdain mancrush) but probably less effective as an introduction to Bourdain’s work unless you’re a food culture person, in which case you’ve already heard of Bourdain.The book reads as a collection of nineteen essays mostly about cooking, restaurants, the media, etc The only essays that don’t work at all are the obligatory “I have a daughter and I have to be a grown up now” essay and an unnecessary “where are they now?” summary of Kitchen Confidential characters Bourdain’s background knowledge is his secret weapon He’ll toss around culinary terms I’ve never heard and namecheck chefs, restaurant critics, etc like a fantasy football junkie trading wide receiver stats He’ll remind you he’s done his time in the kitchen trenches He rips Alice Waters (some famous hippy chef from California, I guess) a new asshole for offensive comments about people who say they can’t afford organic food but also admit he’s glad she exists He’ll eviscerate another food critic for taking shots at his friends instead of aiming the crosshairs directly at him then follow with a mashnote describing a guy especially talented at cutting fish And he’ll admit that bad cooking and lame food shows make him unreasonably angry Some of the targets (e.g vegetarians) are old Bourdain news, and he writesfor people who follow restaurant culture than ever before but I, who doubt I’ve ever been to a fine dining restaurant in my life, could follow along pretty well Fans will recognize names and places (Ruhlman, Les Halles) from the Bourdain factsheet Medium Raw may be a “fans only” book, really, but the essays embody enough of the Bourdain spirit to make reading fun and worthwhile, like a strong album from a band you really like, rather than an easymoney revisiting of slamdunk themes I think Bourdain has finally figured out he’s not going to crash and burn anytime soon He’s here to stay and with that knowledge can write from an “I’m here and there’s nothing my detractors can do about it so I’m going to write about what I want” rather than a “I’m probably going to fail so fuck it, I’m writing about what I want” perspective That subtle difference is important to Medium Raw Anthony Bourdain is dead Long live Anthony Bourdain. I love Anthony Bourdain’s wit, and I loved his shows Parts Unknown and no reservations However, I didn’t love this book because it felt evendisjointed than Kitchen Confidential, a book I enjoyed The book is made up of a series of essays slapped together in no cohesive progression There are funny bits, and because I’m a fan, the biographical parts interest me Particularly in light of him taking his own life, reading about his selfdestructive behavior before he quit abusing drugs many years ago was fascinating He describes living in the Caribbean and driving home drunk every night down curvy, mountain roads, which obviously could have led to his death and others’ If you haven’t read him yet but are considering it, go with Kitchen Confidential Forreviews, please visit: Well, this was always going to be a bittersweet read It still seems surreal that this vibrant man with such a curiosity for the world is not a part of it any longer, but his legacy lives on He doesn't hold back, but is farthoughtful and measured than in Kitchen Confidential Certainly recommended, especially for fans of his shows and previous writing!Findreviews and bookish fun at I have mixed feelings about this book On one hand, I really liked parts of it I loved hearing Anthony Bourdain narrate the story, which he did expertly All those years of talking on TV have taught him to how to deliver lines flawlessly, and it shows It's just like listening to him on TV, which made it easy, fun listening I also laughed at some of his stories, really enjoying Tony when he feels his most real and down and dirty However, parts of the story also annoyed me a great deal I live in the NYC area, and though I'm not a foodie in any extreme sense, I've been to many of the highend restaurants in Manhattan and I'm familiar with a variety of star chefs Even still, I was clueless about the majority of chefs that Bourdain casually name drops You need to be an insider, or someone who is a Chowhound and foodienews devotee to really get all the references For a book marketed to the general population, it was a little too clubby for my tastes Bourdain is a strange mix of hating snobbery while being really snobby and he knows it He constantly exists in this dichotomy of wanting to be a New York diner cook and being so wealthy and privileged that his wife (now exwife) can fly solo at the drop of a hat to eat at Alinea in Chicago just to see why he didn't like it Alinea starts at $200 per person before alcohol, I might add, and that is for the most basic menu.Mixed feelings about this book, but a skilled narration and an, at time, amusing set of stories. Anthony Bourdain I like his show and I like the way he writes He has a no holds barred way of writing about what he thinks Medium Raw is like a string of rants Great material here on how he feels about certain chefs(good, bad, new, and seasoned) and especially the Food Network I didn't understand his grievance with Food Network since that's where he started, but I get it now He writes a little about his travels and how humbling it is to be fed in some places where there is almost nothing No matter what he thinks about the food he is always grateful and,yes, he would likeof what they're serving He mentions Kitchen Confidential throughout and that's where I found him 17 years ago I have a special spot for it on my book shelf It's time for another read. I have long believed that it is only right and appropriate that before one sleeps with someone, one should be able—if called upon to do so—to make them a proper omelet in the morning Surely that kind of civility and selflessness would be both good manners and good for the world Perhaps omelet skills should be learned at the same time you learn to fuck Perhaps there should be an unspoken agreement that in the event of loss of virginity, theexperienced of the partners should, afterward, make the other an omelet—passing along the skill at an important and presumably memorable moment.Amen, my love.Medium Raw is the best possible title Bourdain could have given this book : it was written by a much mellower man than the one who (I like to picture) furiously scribbled Kitchen Confidential ( amature person, who has taken a step back and did a decent amount of soulsearching But because Anthony Bourdain is Anthony Bourdain, he serves his introspection like… well, not quite a slap in the face, but there’s no point in expecting subtlety or sugarcoating here.While it is not quite a sequel, it’s definitely preferable to have read “Kitchen Confidential” before you get into “Medium Raw”, as Bourdain reflects back on who he was when that first book was published and how much things have changed (in his life and in the cooking world) since You’ll lose a lot of context if you are not familiar with the first book, but to be honest, I like this one better They should come as a set.I was planning on keeping this as my bedside book, and to just read a few pages before bed for a few days, but that was underestimating how much I fucking love reading anything Bourdain wrote Once I cracked it open, there was no stopping, or prying the book out of my hands Reading Bourdain is an interesting experience for me because it makes me laugh, it makes me think about things may never have crossed my mind if it hadn’t been for his books, and I often find it very moving because he was not afraid to expose himself, flaws and all; I can’t help but find that combination incredibly sexy.“Medium Raw” is a rant, a confession, a manifesto It’s not always pretty, but it’s always passionate and unapologetic – which is absolutely beautiful It starts with a surreal story about eating ortolans, then hops from topic to topic: hitting rock bottom on a Caribbean island, whoring out to the Food Network and dealing with it, why culinary school might be a huge mistake, a statement about why cooking is a life skill literally everyone should master, a rant about the Godgiven right to a hamburger that won't kill you, his own very particular brand of fatherhood, a laundry list of people in the food world he loves and of those he can't stand Every subject is dissected with insight, wit and enthusiasm.I thought I couldn’t fall in love with the man any harder after reading “A Cook’s Tour” () and binging “Parts Unknown” on Netflix; I was wrong His way with words, the wonderfully twisted workings of his mind, his way of looking at the world and never averting his eye: reading this book made me melt Sure, he was a cantankerous, worldweary recovered junkie, but I also can’t think of another nonfiction writer who has the kindness and authenticity he put on the page The rude, cranky thing feels to me like an armor to hide a romantic and idealistic nature that the fucked up world we live in disappointed repeatedly I get it, and this magnificent crazy man will always have a piece of my heart.If you like Bourdain's style, his shows or his other books, don't miss this one!Call me a sap, but reading this made me muchemotional than I had anticipated My brand spanking new copy is clearly fresh off the press because in the little “about the author” blurb on the flyleaf, the publisher added the heartbreaking (for me, at least) line: “He died in 2018” I confess a moment of true anger at the publishing industry’s callous cashing in: let’s republish his entire body of work, now that he’s dead, the sales will skyrocket! And here I am feeding the vultures! Once I calmed down from this moment of anarchist rage, I was simply grateful for the amazing word porn I held in my hands But a bit of sadness and anger remains mixed inAdditional comment regarding the audiobook: my husband and I listened to it on the long drive between Rochester and Montréal, and it's amazing, as you could expect as it is read by Bourdain That voice! An image of Tony Bourdain has been carefully cultivated by publishers, producers and Bourdain himself; this punk rock loving, hard drinking, two pack a day sacred cow killing rebel who suffers no fools and and takes no bullshit Look no further than the cover of this book which features Bourdain staring out imperiously while handling the pointiest end of a knife And to a certain extent the image is earned But Medium Raw shatters that image in many ways The standard Bourdain tropes are here: Alice Waters is a villain, James Beard society is bullshit, Alan Richman is a cunt He continues to eviscerate carpetbagging parasites who continue to profit off of the food that he holds holy But a much different Bourdain emerges in this book Too much focus is always given to his bad boy image without balancing it out with the sound logic and empathetic reasons he has for giving the people/institutions shit Just as an example, yes he calls Alice Waters a villain, but not just to slaughter an eminence grise She has the hubris to suggest Obama appoint her to a special committee to address America's eating habits when she hasn't voted since the seventies And she dreams of an America where everyone is a farmer of some sort But he's also incredibly complimentary of her skill, intellect and social graces A really different Anthony Bourdain comes out here.He's a very sentimental, loving husband and father A good and loyal friend to those who share his passions He's very frank about his limitations as a chef and very humble about the company he's been thrown in with He fully admits that he's out of his league when he gets put on panels with guys like Ripert and Boloud He dances with his daughter in day care And he's very frank and apologetic about the collateral damage he may have done in Kitchen Confidential This is a stand up guy who deserves to be read and treated asthan the cardboard tough guy punch out the media has made him out to be The only disappointing thing about the book is the very fact that it follows Kitchen Confidential It's like Weezer following their first album with Pinkerton; it was a fine album, but it was all about the travails of being a successful rock star KC was so great (at least to people like me who used to work the line) because it transported you to the reality of that world Most of what people see of kitchens and chefs is what they see on Top Chef or Chopped You don't see the egos, the tensions and the overall seductive, sybaritic lifestyle that comes with working in the restaurant industry There's not a ton of that here Unless you're already a well known chef who is invited to be a judge on guest panels or you do a lot of international fringe traveling, there's not a ton to identify with here Also there's a seeming hypocrisy afoot The second chapter of the book, Bourdain talks at great length about how he refuses to license his name for his own line of cookware or refuses to let someone just slap his name on a restaurant for the marquee value Yet I received this book as part of a cooking class called Anthony Bourdain's Mastering The Basics at the Sur La Table chain of kitchen stores There's a chapter where he mentions a couple of things that we cooked in the class very briefly But no real recipes The recipes we made seemed pretty sanitized with an occasional ass or shit thrown in to make it sound like his voice So I don't know if this was something done without his knowledge or if he gave up a valued principle.I met Chef Bourdain briefly back in NYC at Siberia Bar A nice, genuine but reserved guy We didn't get to talk a bunch or become best friends But reading this book feels like sitting down and having a great conversation with a guy who's lived an amazing life. Memoir 6 of my nonfiction November project this one was a book on my TBRexplode list for the month (where I look at ten books on my TBR starting from the beginning) so I found the audio in hoopla It was the first time I could stand to hear Anthony's voice since his death Some of the sections in this book feel evenspot on nine years later about food and restaurant trends; some of it hasn't aged as well (surely the Anthony Bourdain who was a staunch defender of believe women would speak differently of Mario Batali now, for instance.) But it definitely demonstrates a maturity and clear understanding of his place in the order of things He uncomfortably mentions suicide and death a lot, so there is your warning.Some of this book is not for the squeamish When I first picked it up I was a vegetarian and put it aside, it was a bit easier now, but he definitely looks at some extreme eating situations that are only available to the privileged and bored.