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A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines Paperback – November 5, 2002
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The idea of "perfect meal" in this context is to be taken to mean not necessarily the most upscale, chi-chi, three-star dining experience, but the ideal combination of food, atmosphere, and company. This would take in fishing villages in Vietnam, bars in Cambodia, and Tuareg camps in Morocco (roasted sheep's testicle, as it happens); it would stretch to smoked fish and sauna in the frozen Russian countryside and the French Laundry in California's Napa Valley. It would mean exquisitely refined kaiseki rituals in Japan after yakitori with drunken salarymen. Deep-fried Mars Bars in Glasgow and Gordon Ramsay in London. The still-beating heart of a cobra in Saigon. Drink. Danger. Guns. All with a TV crew in tow for the accompanying series--22 episodes of video gold, we are assured, featuring many don't-try-this-at-home shots of the author in gastric distress or crawling into yet another storm drain at four in the morning.
You are unlikely to lay your hands on a more hectically, strenuously entertaining book for some time. Our hero eats and swashbuckles round the globe with perfect-pitch attitude and liberal use of judiciously placed profanities. Bourdain can write. His timing is great. He is very funny and is under no illusions whatsoever about himself or anyone else. But most of all, he is a chef who got himself out of his kitchen and found, all over the world, people who understand that eating well is the foundation of harmonious living. --Robin Davidson, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Well, Anthony Bourdain got his own Food Network show, and it is, to my lights, the most enjoyable travelogue style show they have ever done. I will warrant the prediction that it will also be the most enjoyable travelogue show they will ever do. I think the original 16 to 18 episodes are even better than the `second season' episodes he did which were not in this book. In the follow-up episodes, Bourdain (or his handlers) tend to start parodying themselves and make more coy, self-referential statements such as the cute business when Tony is in New Orleans and he gets slugged by matronly women for dissing their favorite son, Emeril.
In case you are not familiar with the Bourdain persona, I can quote a local paper's comparison to Emeril as the Food Network's star student, Alton Brown as the class nerd, and Tony Bourdain as the perennial juvenile delinquent. That is not to say Bourdain's view of things is juvenile. It is, in fact, as insightful as any other culinary commentary. The difference between Bourdain and other culinary travelers is that Bourdain is telling us about things from the inside, from the point of view of palate, tongue, nose, ears, and tummy. He is also talking from the inside in that he has been a working cook and chef for his whole life, who has seen just about everything the other culinary journalists have seen and more, including a stint at a childhood in France.Read more ›
As I read the reviews here, I'm amazed by some of the negative comments. Bourdain's offensiveness, the "shock value" of the cuisine and the fact that there are no recipes in the books seem to be common points of issue. One reviewer even recommended the purchasing of Jamie Oliver's books because they have cooking information in them.
Bourdain likes to smoke, drink and use some occasional drugs. That is part of the adventure. I was laughing every time he recounted one of these stories. He's offensive, that's why he's funny and the writing is so entertaining. He also made an extraordinary number of friends in these countries (many are thanked in the notes at the end of the book) so he was hardly just trashing every foreigner he came across.
As to the "shock value", sure he ate Cobras heart and other gruesome items that clearly would "shock". But in most cases he did it because these items were regional delicacies/specialties e.g. beating cobra heart. By and large he discusses "normal" food and I found this balance extremely interesting. Tales of the seafood, soups and other dishes that he eats in Vietnam comprise the majority of those chapters, not the cobra. Get past the occasional shocking item.
I own all of Jamie Oliver's cookbooks and when I want to cook, I use those. When I want to have a bit of a laugh, Jamie Oliver's recipe for home made pasta isn't going to provide the entertainment I'm looking for. Bourdain will.
Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour are obviously not designed to be recipe books.Read more ›
I've read some recent criticism of Bourdain, but I've enjoyed all of his books. He doesn't pretend to be anyone other than who he is, glorying in all of his faults, addictions (past and present), and making this reader guffaw out loud on many occasions.
So when is the TV show scheduled on The Food Network??
The premise of this book, and the TV series that it is a companion to, is for Bourdain to travel around the world looking for the perfect meal. His travels take him throughout asia, into Europe, Africa and even parts of the US, as he looks for culinary delight. He describes with admirable detail the food, people, and culture of the places he visits, often with vary favorable comparisons to our own culinary culture. He regrets the US' "refridgerator culture" and how we have lost track of where our food comes from. Mixed in with the food talk is some other random rantings and ravings, as can be expected from him. The paragraphs on Henry Kissinger, and the comparison of Cambodia to Vietnam are probably the most off topic in the book, but you can tell that he wrote them which a lot of personal feeling.
Bourdain is a pretty engaging fellow, and his writing, while not some stellar example of perfect prose, has a very personable feel to it that makes the book quite the pleasant read. What comes out more in the book than the TV series, was that this was his plan to exploit his fame from "Kitchen Confidential". He knows full well that he has become that which he has professed to despise, but his open and honest acknowledgement of it deserves some respect. It's hard to fault the guy for taking this opportunity when he could, for it's plain that he truly enjoyed touring the world, and most of the food that he found.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Another great read by Bourdain. The book follows his first TV series but from the point of view how he really feels about his escapades. It read quick and I enjoyed it. Read morePublished 16 hours ago by Amazon Customer
Great writing, insight into situation, very well developed characters.
Switches country's without explanation several times. Generally pretty damn good read.
Some stories seem to overlap with those in other books, more like his side remarks during his time filming no reservations. Still, very entertaining.Published 1 month ago by angelina
Although I'd heard the name "Anthony Bourdain" I'd never read any of his books or watched his shows. We read this in book club, and now I'm definitely a fan. Read morePublished 4 months ago by R. MORRIS
This book, like most of Anthony Bourdain's books, spares no one, not even himself, By the time this book was written, I was watching his show on CNN, Parts Unknown. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carol A. Smith
Great book! I love A.B. His writing is beautiful and as good as (if not better than) his TV shows. His travels around the world and experiences with food always leave me with the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
Miss-spelled on the last sentence of the book. I would hate to republish this book, it was a good book.Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Bourdain at his best - witty, sarcastic, an engaging story teller. Evocative descriptions of how food, culture, and history combine. Read it.Published 7 months ago by Linda Stimpson