This is not a review.
I'm just about finished reading Anthony Bourdain's new book, Medium Raw. One may have issues with Bourdain, but one loves this book.
I saw somewhere that it might even outsell his breakout book, Kitchen Confidential, which is (gasp) ten years old now. It's brisk, brash and full of braggadoccio, as you might expect.
But it's also tender and humble and hopeful. And nice. Bourdain's a fat old daddy, now, after all. No more boozin' and chasin' skirts. Well, he might still be boozin' but he's off the drugs and even the cigarettes.
What's it about? It's a series of essays, mostly unrelated. He tells about the reckless, drunk, stoned heiress he found himself following around in the Caribbean until she got to be too much for him, and he... ditched her! Flew off the island, left her bills unpaid, got his sanity back.
There's a chapter on his heroes and villains in the restaurant business. Rachael Ray is neither. (Well, she might be, but she goes unmentioned. He ragged on her so relentlessly in an earlier, ugly incarnation of himself that she... sent him a fruit basket! His heart melted, and now he leaves her alone.) The heroes and villains include names like Gael Greene, Fergus Henderson and Jamie Oliver. Guess which is which. (Alice Waters gets her own, whole chapter.)
My favorite chapter is not about Bourdain. It's about the guy who skins, guts, scales and filets 700 pounds of fish every day for Le Bernardin. Jeez, Tony! You're being a reporter! It's a good read, charming, clinical, almost (but never) emotional. Anyone who gets weepy, you're just a sissy-ass.
Oh, yeah, the language. Still vintage Bourdain, so if you wither at the thought of four- and three- and seven- and (sheesh, how many?) letter words, take a pass. I found it very natural and a lot of fun. It just made me want to start a new blog where I use my "other" vocabulary. My louche lexicon.
Bourdain is a damn good writer. It's what he does now. He's no longer a chef; he's a damn good writer.
This sounds like a review, doesn't it? Eek, sorry.