Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: "Medium Raw"

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook is the latest book by the un-censored, tell it like it is, travel and food aficionado, Anthony Bourdain. You know, he actually lives somewhere up here on the UES with his wife and daughter, but in the 6 years I've lived in the neighborhood, I've never been lucky enough to catch a glimpse. Woody and I have however, seen him twice in conversation with Momofuku creator, David Chang. Let me just say that it is definitely an experience.

This book might be best read after reading one of his other books, Kitchen Confidential, but I didn't feel deprived of any key details having not read it, and I definitely do want to read it at some point. I love Bourdain's easy going way of writing. Woody and I watch his show on the Travel Channel often, and while reading this book I could absolutely hear his voice reading it to me. He writes as he talks.

Bourdain delves into his sorted, dark past, of which he is not apologetic, but rather illustrates how all the dire events have led him on the path to where he is now. He isn't a very optimistic or overly 'happy' person, but he does show a level of enthusiasm about things like his wife and daughter, travel, experiencing new and unique flavors, and the simple joy that can be found in the ordinary. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to have any problems sharing his disdain for certain people and things.

I don't want to try and analyze Bourdain or this book. It's a futile exercise and not one for me to undertake. I don't think anyone can quite understand him or his views. Reading his books definitely provides a new perspective on who he is, from watching "No Reservations." He definitely provides references to his past on his show, but I really had no clue about his history until I heard a bit about his books and then read this one for myself. It definitely gave me a new perspective on who he is, although I still won't pretend to really know who he is. You can't unless you actually know him. Really know him.

I like his suggestion that every kid, boy and girl, should learn basic cooking skills in school so that they are able to feed themselves and others. That we, as a society, should make the ability to cook a fundamental skill. While he readily admits that he does not like vegetarians and vegans because they will refuse the offers of others to share in traditional foods around the world, he does take issue with our food system and unsafe meat that inevitably ends up in our food supply and the companies that knowingly put it there.

After reading this book I also have a new perspective on fine dining, dining in general and the hard work that goes on in the kitchens of the restaurants where we enjoy meals. I'm not a food aficionado, I don't have a discerning palate, and I will probably never indulge in a chef's tasting menu in my lifetime, but even though I already appreciated chefs and line cooks, I have a much deeper appreciation for what they go through each day to put food on our plates.

If you enjoy reading stories about what goes on behind the scenes, enjoy food writing and have an interest in the fine dining industry, definitely take a little time to read this book.

workout stats -
19mile bike
100 crunches
3x25second planks w/ stability ball
3x10 straight front arm raise
3x10 overhead extension
3x10 cable pull push-down
3x10 tricep dip
foam roller and stretching


misszippy said...

I'll have to check it out--thanks for the review. I love his show, but have yet to read one of his books.

Silly Girl Running said...

Thanks for the review! Since one of your other tips (tuna with hummus) turned out absolutely to die for, I can't wait to read this book! :)

Tricia said...

I have been dying to read this book, thanks for the review!

Amy said...

This is actually on my "To Read" list! Thanks for the review. The most important thing you should know from "Kitchen Confidential" is ... if the bathroom isn't clean, don't eat the food. It's a lot easier to keep a bathroom clean than a kitchen clean.

Robyn @ Wannabe Writer Runner said...

I didn't know he lived on the UES, I've never seen him either. I've never read any of his books but I've seen his show here and there. Thanks for the review. How's the packing going?

Amanda - RunToTheFinish said...

he is an interesting guy, I can't quite decide if I like him or think he's just way too cocky

Katie @ Health for the Whole Self said...

I definitely want to read this book, and his other one. Thanks for this review!

Maria @ Kale and Cupcakes said...

Thanks for the suggestion - think I'm gonna check out the book. The husband and I love No Reservations!

Running Through Phoenix said...

Love KC and also Nasty Bits. Waiting for this one to come out in paperback. Thanks for the review!

Lori said...

Glad you reviewed this book. It is on my list after I finish a couple others. Bourdaineis such an incredible food and travel writer. It just seems to flow so naturally for him.