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Oct 3, 2013 07:01 AM

Bourdain's "Medium Raw"

Hope I am not beating a dead horse here (didn't find it on a search), but has anyone read Anthony Bourdain's 2010 book, "Medium Raw?" Classic Bourdain: cynical, funny, crude and gossipy, I enjoyed reading his insights into the contemporary restaurant & food industry (altho mostly New York). He has been on the front page of local newspapers this week for a faux pax on New Mexico's infamous frito pie that aired on "Parts Unknown" last Sunday, and has publicly apologized for his obvious disgust at the boiled ground beef "chili" served in a bag of fritos (he's right, BTW). He is surely an easy target due to his outrageous and sometimes obnoxious opinions, but I've always been a reluctant fan and recommend this book if you are at all interested in behind the scenes in the restaurant industry. The chapter on the fish guy at LeBernardin is alone worth the price of a used copy.

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    1. re: mwhitmore

      Thanks again! Just read the 'Alice' chapter, which expresses many of my own ambivalent feelings about Hippy Elitism. And yet...who *is* going to work the fields?

      1. re: mwhitmore

        The Alice chapter was funny and I'm sure all too true. She's a Facebook "friend" and every time she posts, she does it about five times in a row--same post. A little challenged with technology there, Alice? OK, we'll forgive you.

    2. I read it a couple of years ago. More a collection of essays than a book. Some hit, some miss. I remember a few as being rather defensive.

      1. I read it not long after it came out. I was a bit disappointed that I had already many of the articles when they were originally printed in other publications or on-line.

        He did seem to be in a dark period at that point too. But worth a look for Bourdain fans that haven't seen this yet.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pamf

          I read it when it first came out and again a little while ago. I'm still not sure if he really was on the rag or just exploiting his own image as a hip neo-curmudgeon because he figured if that's what his fans want, give it to them.

          1. re: Just Visiting

            I could be wrong, but I believe this was his first book for Ecco, a division of HarperCollins, so I'm sure it was a kick for him to be able to put his own project together under his own tutelage.

        2. I think he is VERY defensive in this book and wanted to be able to say he tried to make things nice. It's kind of fun to see him backpeddle once in a while and this made me chuckle a lot. His tirades on Alan Richman, Gael Greene, the James Beard House, et al are right on IMHO but I am not among those who revere David Chang as the "important," new Messiah of the food world. BS. I have the last chapter yet to finish but have one question: who is Sgt. Pepper?

          2 Replies
          1. re: sandiasingh

            gael green, because of her way of dressing.

          2. I agree that the best article in the book is the one about LeBernardin's fish guy. It is fascinating to read about the skill and dedication of this man. (I wish I could remember his name. My inability to remember--Justo something?-- demonstrates his unjustified anonymity.)

            Bourdain's concern about having "sold out" seems to me to show how very much he has not sold out. He retains his integrity and I respect him very much.

            I thought his reply to Alan Richman, who suddenly decided to review Bourdain's old restaurant when Richman got into a spat with Bourdain, was amusing.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gfr1111

              Justo Thomas is the fish guy's name (I can't find a title for his job). His expertise and pride in his work are to be admired and the poignant story of Tony taking him to dine for the first time in LeBernardin was very sweet.

              His "heroes and villains" chapter was interesting and his full fury against Alan Richman was pretty hilarious (and not misplaced). We differ on David Chang, but I've never met the guy or eaten his food (lack of interest).

              I honestly find that while Bordain is all tough and blustery on the outside--and intentionally controversial and harsh sometimes--he has a pretty soft inside and is not afraid to let that show. Basically, he's very opinionated and from one to another--I like that about him. It's a great read.