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The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones Perfect Paperback – May 1, 2007
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
“High- and low-lights from the culinary world by the delightfully jaded chef.” ―People
“His writing is at its most savory in passages about the joys of sharing food with people who love it. His words are not always gentlemanly, but they vividly convey how, say, sitting on the plastic-covered kitchen floor of an Inuit family's house and joining in as they eagerly tear into the raw liver, brain and blubber of a freshly killed seal can be, as Mr. Bourdain says, a moment of rare intimacy, pleasure and indeed beauty.” ―Wall Street Journal
“Lovable rogue chef and author of Kitchen Confidential describes stomach-roiling feasts in exotic lands and snipes at celebrity chefs in this entertaining tome.” ―Chicago Tribune
“A vivid and witty writer…[Bourdain's] greatest gift is his ability to convey his passion for professional cooking...In Bourdain's telling this is inspiring, band-of-brothers stuff, a tale of the trenches where ends almost always justify means.” ―New York Times Book Review
“[An] informed and unvarnished view from the kitchen...[Bourdain's] best writing can make food lovers quiver like raw fish.” ―Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Anthony Bourdain is the author of seven books, including the bestselling Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. A thirty-year veteran of professional kitchens, he is the host of the television series No Reservations and the executive chef at Les Halles in Manhattan. He lives in New York City.
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Now, the first thing to keep in mind with The Nasty Bits is that it isn’t really a book, per se, but rather a collection of Bourdain’s writings in various magazines. If you’re a fan of his shows, you’ll find some familiar locales and faces in the pieces represented - Vegas, Thailand, Vietnam. However, there’s also a lot more inside-baseball when it comes to the culinary art world that has faded from the TV presentations over time.
An impassioned argument about the raw food movement that took the world by storm awhile back. Reflections on a heavily nostalgic vision of New York City in the 80s. Bourdain’s first all-expenses-paid trip for a magazine (to Brazil) and another aboard the super cruise liner The World. There are funny bits, angry bits, and yes - nasty bits. However, the best bits actually come at the back of the book, where you’ll find short commentaries on each article. With the benefit of hindsight, Bourdain is able to admit faults and shed light on the context surrounding an article - the context you never get to see in such articles.
I’m an avid magazine reader as it is - longform feature pieces, travel, and insight into niches of the world I’ll never likely set foot in myself are as addictive to me as cigarettes used to be - so once I was able to change myself from ‘book reading’ mode to ‘magazine reading’ mode, I enjoyed The Nasty Bits a lot more. However, it may not be for everyone.
He immediately won my endorsement when he put in a plug for Dr. Brown's Cel-Rey Celery soda (p. 77), which, if you haven't had it, is as peculiar a beverage as can be imagined. He further wins accolades for dishing out harsh punishment for people who put ketchup on hot dogs, but in the big picture he gets the most praise for a simple kitchen rule: "In any kitchen where I am in control, there is a strict NO Billy Joel, NO Grateful Dead policy. If you are seen visibly enjoying either act, whether during or even after your working hours, you can clean out your locker now. You're fired." I cooked in several high-end kitchens, and with judgement like that, I am confident I could work for Tony.
This book focuses more on the culture surrounding food than some of Bourdain's other work, and I like that; whether he is talking about PETA, mocking the concept of a gastro-pub ("For me, fancy food in a traditional old pub is about as inviting as the phrases 'Hot male-on-male action' or 'Tonight! Billy Joel live!' or 'Free prostate exam with every drink.'"), or questioning one's sanity for caring about the opinions of celebrities ("Why would anyone listen to Woody Harrelson about anything more important than how to be a working Hollywood actor or how to make a bong out of a toilet-paper roll and tinfoil?"), Bourdain is at his sarcastic and judgmental best.
As I read (and re-read) "The Nasty Bits" I kept imagining Bourdain's gravelly smoker's voice holding court on all the issues both sociological and culinary that he chooses to discuss here. There is almost no way that anyone will agree with all his opinions (I certainly don't), but his views are always entertaining and worth listening to, and I recommend this book to open minded adults everywhere.