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Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.) Paperback – May 3, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 482 customer reviews

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  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (P.S.)
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  • A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines
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Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

No one really expected Bourdain to top his wildly popular Kitchen Confidential, even Bourdain himself: several critics wrote that he seems alternately awed and appalled by his own celebrity. Those parts of Medium Raw--more of a collection of essays than a streamlined narrative--that seemed to grow out of that celebrity, such as Bourdain's feuds with food critics and celebrity chefs, impressed reviewers the least. But they still found much to savor, particularly Bourdain's biting personality, his own humorous self-deprecation, his ability to bring out the unknown elements of the restaurant industry, particularly the kitchen and service staff who might otherwise be ignored, and, not least of all, the well-written (if often vulgar) and compelling stories. In the end, though Medium Raw will best be appreciated by foodies, it is "generally an entertaining read, compelling more for [Bourdain's] passion than his mean streak" (Kansas City Star). --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Bourdain, who broke into the collective food consciousness with Kitchen Confidential (2000) and has since cemented his place as one of our foremost food commentators, offers the kind of book you can write only if you’ve achieved the level of fame at which you can assume that people care about about whatever you have to say (which they do, and should): a loose, sometimes repetitive, always entertaining, and even at times enlightening collection of food-related ramblings and name-naming hit-pieces. The result is more or less the book equivalent of finding yourself sharing plates at a communal table with a chatty, witty, unapologetically profane, knowledgeable and well-connected member-observer of the restaurant big leagues. If, like him, you see the world’s greatest chefs as somewhere between rock and porn stars, there’s no way you wouldn’t spend hours listening to him chew your ear off with stories of that coke-fueled weekend (or was it a month?) trapped on an island with the world’s most insufferably wealthy food posers and with diatribes on how annoying Alice Waters is and how critic Alan Richman is a “douchebag” (the nicer of the two things Bourdain calls him) for trashing the New Orleans food scene with the city still reeling from Katrina—and then turn on a dime to deliver an impassioned ode to Vietnamese pho and an admiring portrait of perhaps the world’s finest fish-portioner at Le Bernardin. It might have been a narcissistic, condescending, and overly insiderish collection if it weren’t for Bourdain’s consistently disarming self-awareness that he’s “the very picture of the jaded, overprivileged ‘foodie’ (in the worst sense of that word) that he used to despise.” On seeing himself through the eyes of a hungry young chef who still has to actually cook just to barely survive, he says, “Look at me and my nice fucking jacket, standing there all famous and shit.” Sure, others may cook better than he does, but no one can dish like he can. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: P.S.
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Reprint edition (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061718955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061718953
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (482 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,879 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Lee on June 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The year's may have passed and he's turned into a TV personality since Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.), which revealed the behind-the-scenes world of a chef in the NY city restaurant scene, but Tony despite his own self-analysis in this one hasn't changed all that much.

He's still as potty mouthed, contrarian, anti-establishment and provocative as ever. He's also as much or more of a clever, creative good writer with an unquestionable passion for food and the restauraunt biz that entertains and fascinates even someone like me who only eats at restaurants.

Like the first book, the chapters each act as more of an essay than as a story - covering the evolution of the restaurant/food industry and what's happened to him since his first book.

There's a lot of angry diabtribes interlaced with his dry humor. The topics include the inability to find a good decent hamburger, overpretentious/priced restaurant habits, the evils of the James Beard foundation, Alice Waters and sustainability, vegetarianism, the CIA and the Food Network. Some of these are better executed than others. During the hamburger one, in particular - I was ready for him to get off his soapbox long before he actually did.

Still, Tony doesn't shy away from naming names and dishing dirt that anyone who watches those "evil" food shows like Iron Chef, Top Chef, and Rachel Ray will recognize and find entertaining. In fact, a whole chapter is dedicated to who he believes are the heroes and villians of the restaurant biz today, and why.
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Format: Hardcover
Anthony Bourdain's previous collection "Nasty Bits" felt like a watered-down overcooked rehash of his original shtick. His new one, "Medium Raw," is a true revival. Bourdain has shaken off the cashmere of complacency to don a Viking bear-shirt of rage, and even though he takes stabs at familiar targets--TV, the corporations and the rich--he has come up with bloody fresh reasons to hate them (which is something.) His jokes are disturbing, his horrors hilarious, his meals orgasmic: his food descriptions are as far beyond crass culinary porn as Caravaggio and Boticelli are beyond "Jugs." Schlosser and Pollan may better connect food to economics and politics; Bourdain is supreme at plugging it to the gonads and guts. No one better demonstrates that food is part of life. This book makes both more interesting.
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Format: Hardcover
Tony does not, for the most part, pull any punches. For the record, Sandra Lee terrifies me too. He doesn't divulge Bigfoot's identity, but for the most part, does name names. I especially liked the chapter on heros and villains. His takedown of Alan Richman is priceless.

The bottom line with Mr. Bourdain is that he really cares about food and the people who prepare it, whether it's the guy in the Czech Republic who stuffs sausages with his bare hands, or the man who cuts the fish at Le Bernardin.

Food is too important to leave to the Rachael Rays and Sandra Lees of the world. We need fewer people clamoring about EVOO and more people cooking and eating a well-executed omelet or a good simple tomato sauce.

Start reading this on a Friday. It will last most of the weekend, and when you're finished, you'll be eager for the next course. I don't know how many more of these Tony has in him, but I'm waiting for the next one.
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Format: Hardcover
I loved Kitchen Confidential, and I enjoyed Nasty Bits. I find this book to be more of a sequel to Nasty Bits, in that it is a collection of essays that do not necessarily have to be read in order. Yes, some of them are autobiographical, but some of it is "random thoughts" on topics like the hamburger and various food personalities. It is interesting to learn that Bourdain was still fighting many demons even after writing Kitchen Confidential, and also good to read how he is enjoying fatherhood. An enjoyable and worthwhile read, but not quite the same kick as the first bio.
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Format: Hardcover
"When I sat down at my desk every morning to write Kitchen Confidential and began clacking away at they keyboard, I was gloriously free of hope that it would be read outside a small subculture of restaurant people in New York City," writes Anthony Bourdain in his newest book, and third since Kitchen Confidential, called Medium Raw.

When Kitchen Confidential was published, it became an almost overnight success. As it pushed higher and higher on the NY Times Bestseller List, so to did the stardom of Anthony Bourdain.

Kitchen Confidential was perhaps so popular, because for the less initiated, it unveiled in a terribly entertaining way, the obscured and raw "culinary underbelly" of the restaurant industry. It was precisely because it was written for a "subculture" of insiders that Kitchen Confidential was adopted by the masses. Its authenticity proved irresistible.

Fast forward ten years: Bourdain has become a celebrity. He is the writer and personality of an Emmy award-winning television show: No Reservations. He is employed by the very network he has so long railed against: The Food Network. He is a married family man, who resides with his young daughter and wife within the yuppy confines of the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The thing is- these contradictions are certainly not lost on the self-deprecating Bourdain. They do, however, rob Bourdain's newest effort, Medium Raw, of any hope at the authenticity and refreshing originality of Kitchen Confidential, and even of No Reservations.

In Medium Raw, Bourdain does not fail to offer healthy servings of his unique, vitriolic, acerbic, laser-sharp, and hilarious wit, which his fans have come to expect of him.
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