here i was at kinokuniya, staring at anthony bourdain latest book – medium raw – pondering whether if i should get it or not. in de end, i did.
yes so what if i have read kitchen confidential years ago and most probably not able to remember half of the book? so what if i have a cook’s tour yet it made me fall asleep everytime i start reading it? even though medium raw is said to be the follow-up of kitchen confidential, you really do not need to read the former before you start reading medium raw.
however you do need to have certain knowledge to enjoy the book thoroughly.
firstly, you must be well-versed in foodie world/ restaurant industry. especially the america culinary world. restaurant names, well known chefs popped out here and there in the book. if you do not know who is who, you might get lost in the book. but fear not. with google, you will be alright.
you also must be familiar with the writer himself – anthony bourdain. the book is about his world, his life. thus you need to have an idea who anthony bourdain is (used to be executive chef of les halles and now host of travel channel’s no reservations) and what is he up to (now a regular judge for top chef all stars).
once you geared yourself with these information, you can then proceed with medium raw. to me, medium raw is an opportunity for bourdain to continue his ramblings about the restaurant business, chefs, industry trends, tv shows and so on (since kitchen confidential). however i do note that he has mellowed down a lot more (reduced amount of profanity, alcohol and zero drugs). perhaps is his age. or perhaps his young daughter.
my personal favorite chapter is “go ask alice”. the chapter is about how much he detest the “mother of slow food”, owner of chez panisse alice waters. ms waters has the good intention on asking people to eat organic, enjoy their food and so on. the reality is how many of us can do that. this was the message that bourdain tried to deliver in that chapter – people eat some nasty food because this is what they can afford.
for me, i will never forget one scene in the documentary food inc where a young girl was told she cannot have a pear because her family cannot afford it. it was so sad. its just a pear. that totally broke my heart. ms waters needs to know that while its great to eat healthly, its even greater to be able to have food to eat. if ms waters really believes in bringing organic produce on everyone table, she has to make them accessible. if not, talk is cheap.
i do find bourdain ramblings interesting and insightful. it made you not take food for granted. and also he made you understand how much passion and perhaps love that one will go through for food. a good read for every foodie.