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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
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“Bourdain has insight, access and good taste, and he’s a naturally engaging writer...Bourdain is a hopeless romantic when it comes to food and the people who cook. The subtitle’s real valentines are two elegantly written profiles.” (New York Times Book Review)
“Like a stinky fish sauce from his beloved Vietnam, [Bourdain’s] appeal among the food die-hards has only grown stronger and more pungent over time, and this book will only solidify that adoration.” (Austin American-Statesman)
“This is Bourdain at his best. His food-porn vignettes are guaranteed to make your mouth water.” (Miami Herald)
“Compulsively readable.” (New York Magazine's Grub Street)
“The food orbit is [Bourdain’s] element, and chapters on today’s leading figures—from chef David Chang to critic Alan Richman—display his access, outspokenness and comedic gifts.” (Wall Street Journal)
“The KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL author is a father now, but he hasn’t cleaned up his language, lost his zesty appetite or his critical zing.” (Time Magazine)
“Bourdain is back with more intriguing food fights, moving further from the kitchen into the eating industry. [Bourdain’s] dissections...are still as hilarious, as scatological and as spot-on as ever....his fare—and his prose—is still quite spicy.” (BookPage)
“Full of things everybody in the food world thinks but nobody will say...If [Bourdain’s] sharp eye and his wicked tongue have brought him acclaim, what’s kept him in the spotlight is his heart. Like Oscar Wilde, he’s a moralist in the guise of a libertine. Long may he prosper.” (Denver Post)
“Mr. Bourdain is a vivid, bawdy and often foul-mouthed writer. He thrills in the attack, but he is also an enthusiast who writes well about things he holds dear.” (Wall Street Journal)
From the Back Cover
An instant New York Times bestseller and the follow-up to the mega-hit Kitchen Confidential
In the ten years since Anthony Bourdain's classic Kitchen Confidential first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out, much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant business–and for Anthony Bourdain.
Medium Raw tracks Bourdain's unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood, in a series of takes-no-prisoners confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.
Beginning with a secret, highly illegal after-hours 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. 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; the revered Alice Waters; the Top Chef contestants; and many more. Medium Raw is the deliciously funny, shockingly delectable result, sure to delight philistines and gourmands alike.
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The beginning was pretty good. Some of the content was interesting to me, seeing what's happened to the Tony who wrote Kitchen Confidential in the intervening years. But mostly I felt like he rambled. Bragged. And generally had not that much new to say. I wondered whether this book had an editor, whether they worked with him to focus the book in any meaningful way. Much of the middle of the book seemed like filler. Towards the end, some of the essays were better. But I really could care less about his list of "who's hot and who's not" in the gossipy world of cooking. I thought it made him sound, well, like despite his old age and apparent desire for wisdom, he didn't fulfill the potential we all saw in Kitchen Confidential. He's gotten old, but hasn't really grown up. Sure, the writing here is better in some ways, a little less frantic. But he overuses some words repeatedly, and the book is generally disorganized and dull. I kept hoping for it to get better, but it kinda didn't. Sorry Tony, but I think you can't multitask like you did when you were younger. Either focus on writing a book because you have something to say, or have your tv career and raise your kid. Good luck to her, by the way.
He pulls no punches when discussing individuals for whom he has absolute disdain, such as Alan Richman, but even these individuals get their props when and where he feels they are due. It almost feels like a small crutch he can lean on, so as to not be accused of absolute obliteration. He has truly reached the enviable position of, as he claims, "not having a restaurant or reputation he needs to protect" and the freedom to call it as he sees it.
I read Kitchen Confidential years ago and loved it. This book made me want to go back and read it again and compare the younger, angrier Bourdain with the older, perhaps wiser and slightly more refined individual he has become. I look forward to more from him.
All that said, it was a real joy to read this book. From reading about how Tony's life has changed after becoming a celebrity, to laughing about his pain from multi-course over indulgence. There is a ton of great content. I especially enjoyed his rant about burgers in today's world. How they have become exotic and high priced, and Tony's typical internal dilemma with "what does it all mean?!" Again, you can see how it helps to kind of know Bourdain prior to jumping into this book.
This truly is a four star book - "I liked it" - in tune with Amazon's rating system. Kitchen Confidential was a five star book - it had the ability to drastically change a reader's perspective on the world of cooking, while Medium Raw is just a fun update on Bourdainisms and thoughts. I don't believe it was intended to be anything more than that.