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A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  17,530 Ratings  ·  870 Reviews
A Cook's Tour is the written record of Anthony Bourdain's travels around the world in his search for the perfect meal. All too conscious of the state of his 44-year-old knees after a working life standing at restaurant stoves, but with the unlooked-for jackpot of Kitchen Confidential as collateral, Mr. Bourdain evidently concluded he needed a bit more wind under his wings. ...more
274 pages
Published November 7th 2001 by Raincoast Books (first published 2001)
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Jun 12, 2007 Leela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gourmets, travelers, adventurers, and adventurous vegetarians
After fourteen years of contented vegetarianism, it takes a lot to make me want to try roasted lamb testicles. I could almost stop writing here: the book is that good. Bourdain's attitude is part of his charm. I'm not sure I'd want to work in his kitchen, but he writes a damn good story. From one end of the earth to the other, he and his faithful camera crew take on whatever is local, exotic, beloved, and edible. Then he eats it. The way this man writes about food is incredible--last time someon ...more
Jul 14, 2010 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now, I love Anthony Bourdain. He's basically full of shit and insane, but honest enough to be aware of it.
He's smug, cynical, occasionally snobby and has all the tact of hammer to the forehead.

At the same time he's very aware that he's stumbled into a job most people would kill for, he's getting paid to eat good food and travel anywhere he wants in the world. Someone is paying him to go live out his boyhood dreams and fantasies.
He also loves going places, meeting people and food. He has a soft r
Anthony Bourdain's second book has him traveling the globe looking for the "perfect" meal. Visiting locales like France, Portugal, Morocco, Japan, Cambodia and Vietnam, as well as a little bit of his home country, Bourdain's goal is to try true, authentic, fresh food and not be afraid to join in and eat like the locals. No matter what their speciality is. Lamb testicles in Morocco, the beating heart of a cobra in Vietnam, haggis in Scotland, nattō in Japan. He's willing (though sometimes underst ...more
Patricia Pham
Jul 05, 2014 Patricia Pham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bourdain - a privileged, hypocritical, crude bastard - manages to write prose that is intriguing, funny, and surprisingly poetic. I began the book as a critic of Bourdain, having just read KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, which I found to be shallow and boring at best, and also having watched his show NO RESERVATIONS, which often leaves a bad taste in my mouth for several reasons. Despite all this, there has always been something in Bourdain's writing that has kept me coming back. After reading this book, ...more
Karen Foster
Dec 23, 2016 Karen Foster rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club-reads
Book Club Read.... Loved this travel memoir so much.... Anthony Bourdain's writing captures a precarious balance of cynicism and true wonder that's very hard to achieve. His genuine passion for good food and good people leaps off the page, as he revels in the simplicities of tradition and family in the places he explores. My mouth watered, my feet itched and I laughed my arse off. This book really spoke my language... Off now to binge watch the accompanying tv show, now streaming on Hulu...and c ...more
I can't figure what holds me back about his book. I love Anthony Bourdain's attitude about food and his philosophy about what makes a great meal. I love his desire for absolutely fresh food, right off the bleeding stick or never touching a refrigerator, and I admire the distinctions he makes about how food looks and how it tastes--my wife is one who cannot get over the appearance of food and lets it affect her enjoyment of it, while I don't care how food looks, but simply want good-tasting stuff ...more
Kim says I have a man crush on Anthony Bourdain.

So what’s a man crush?

My favorite urban dictionary definition of the term reads:

Respect, admiration and idolization of another man. Non-sexual. Celebrities, athletes and rock stars are often the object of the man crush.

Let’s see. Do I have a man crush on Anthony Bourdain by that definition? Let’s frame the question around my recent reading of A Cook’s Tour.

This is Bourdain’s second, book, after Kitchen Confidential. The title is a “double dip”, a
Hannah Eiseman-Renyard
He's Still Got It - and Now He's On the Road

If you loved Kitchen Confidential Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, then imagine all that again, with some incredible travel writing (ie even more exotic delicacies, and the occasional threat of death) chucked in for good measure.

Also wonderful are the behind the scenes story about filming Bourdain's show (Reasons You Don't Want to Work in Television, sections 1, 2 and 3)

There's something magical and infectious about letting someone, anyone, ta
Jun 28, 2016 Terri rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
I thoroughly enjoyed this book to begin with, where Bourdain opens on the philosophy that the very best meals in one's life are largely dependent on context more so than the food itself. On his quest to find 'the perfect meal', I loved his food adventure stories as explored through this lens. I think this element kind of dropped off throughout the book, though, with a few chapters feeling almost like forced inclusions based on the TV show itinerary. That said, the behind-the-scenes insights into ...more
Mar 06, 2010 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although he occasionally comes across as a Jeremy Clarkson of food, all bombastic arrogance and impatient with anything that infringes his right to do what he likes, I am rather fond of eating, so Anthony Bourdain's pesrpctive is one I largely share, even if his playful likening of vegetarians to the hezbollah is something of a one angled view.

In particular, he has no time at all for the lily-livered, western-centric tendency towards fussiness - if it's there to be guzzled, be it the still beati
Sep 21, 2009 MacK rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goals for my life:

1) Write better

2) Cook better

3) Travel more

Redefined goal for life:


I've listened through this book twice now, and I've loved it both times. In every case there's a new discovery to be had, a new element to enjoy, a new allusion to catch. Bourdain's voice doing the narration, a comforting mix of professor with a smoking habit and friendly guy at the bar, is perfect--naturally because it's his voice reading his words.

The meandering journeys through Asia,
Daniel Jr.
As someone who grew up poor, ate cheap, salty stuff out of boxes and cans (powdered milk was a staple of my childhood), and never traveled, I'm a culinary dilettante at best and likely always will be. Much of the insider foodie stuff is over my head if not interesting and often fascinating. But like all quest narratives, Bourdain's--under the guise of a quest for the elusive "perfect meal"--is a quest for identity. And the guy can write. At his best, he's as good as any of the too-many memoirist ...more
Dec 17, 2015 Ed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bourdain Fans. Travel and foodie people.
I am an enthusiastic fan of Bourdain's CNN series, "Parts Unknown". I also liked his Food Channel series, "No Reservations" even though the production values weren't as good as they are on CNN.

This book is a narrative of his search for the perfect meal with the Food Channel folks tagging along. I don't think it a spoiler to say the search was both successful and unsuccessful. To understand why this is so, the reader needs to get to the last few pages of the book.

The biggest surprise for me was t
Jan 29, 2012 Pat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm an unabashed Tony Bourdain fan, love his brain and P.o.V on just about everything (although there are things the man eats that I would NEVER, in a million years, even if I was starving to death, put in my mouth) and Cook's Tour is, I think his first book (or an early on in any case). It chronicles the beginning of Tony's running-around-the-world-eating-cool-stuff adventures, and most of the book is broken down into short sections by place, i.e. this five pages is about Vietnam, this really h ...more
Jun 25, 2014 Chris rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, 2014
Dear Anthony Bourdain.

I do not know who you are, and since picking up this book I have no interest in finding out any more about you either. You are a pompous, whiny, brat who spends 260 pages taking the attention off some truly incredible places and foods and onto yourself. I cannot put into words how much I dislike you moaning so profusely about a TV show you signed up for, and who funded your travels around the world.

Thankfully there is a small amount of the book which is well written. You al
May 05, 2016 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book about Bourdain's travels throughout the world when he first began to travel for his TV shows. The book is more interesting and more well conceived than the show and it gives you more context for Bourdain's travels. There are some very memorable moments in this book, particularly Tony's ill-fated decision to go to Pailin, a Khmer Rouge stronghold in northern Cambodia, as well as his trip to his childhood summer vacation home in the south of France with his brother Chris and his visit ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
He's sometimes arrogant, yet witty, at times hilarious, and always passionate about his food. I enjoyed this book tremendously for it blends my two favourite things - food and travel. Some meal descriptions made me want to gag, but so many more made me want to hop on the next plane and find that meal. If you don't like his shows, you might not like the book. It's written just as he is on his shows.
Sep 08, 2007 Andi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: memoir
I have to say, this book is much better than Kitchen Confidential. While I enjoyed KC very much, A Cook's Tour is a poetically written, passionate, and always snarky ponderance of food. Tony outdoes himself with this one. Highly recommended.
So entertaining, like reading an episode of Bourdain's show. I like his sense of humor and his style of travel.
Dec 23, 2015 bdavis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-reads
Interesting but not my cup of tea.
I expected to enjoy this much more than I did. Since I have watched No Reservations off and on for years, and watched some of A Cook's Tour years ago; and because I just finished Kitchen Confidential and liked it much more than I thought I would, I figured this book would be an automatic hit with me. Unfortunately, no. It was just ok. I did enjoy reading a chapter, then going to YouTube and watching the Cook's Tour episode that went along with it. I think I got a better sense of what was outside ...more
Jan 20, 2017 Kendra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful companion to the TV series of the same name. Bourdain's witty prose gives a deep insight into the world he lived in behind the camera during his year abroad searching for "the perfect meal" and lets even the most the casual reader experience his horror and delight as he's confronted by the next plate set before him. He opens a door to countries many of us will never visit and details delicious and strange foods we may never get to eat or may be too scared to eat. In my opinion it was ...more
Jun 13, 2007 Ken rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book disappointed me. I'd already read and enjoyed Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits. I thought I would find A Cook's Tour to be a similarly spirited and opinionated trip through Bourdain's brain, this time in the framework of amazing meals from all over the world. It let me down. Don't get me wrong: there are some great moments in this book, but as a whole it didn't work, and actually irritated me.

Bourdain wrote this book as the Food Network sent him around the world in search of the
Tyson Heck
Jan 06, 2016 Tyson Heck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Tony Bourdain book in the - books? - and I wasn't left disappointed. At this point, I know what I'm supposed to be getting from his works, and much like most of the food he experiences in A Cook's Tour, I received exactly that. Bourdain has a way with words, and you'd know that if you've read this or any of his other books or even seen any of the multiple shows he is now involved with.

Although this book was written at the turn of the century, a lot of it still makes sense. He only dates
Jul 06, 2016 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually get into immense detail about this book (and indulge in memories of 'perfect' meals) on my blog - https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wo... but if you only want to know about whether or not to read it, then this:

The idea for A Cook’s Tour was simple – travel the world and find the perfect meal. It was cheeky, because Bourdain knew from the outset that there was no such thing – the ‘perfect’ meal isn’t only about what’s on the plate, it’s the time, the place, the company and the memory
I love all books related to travel and I love all books related to eat. So a book about both should be a gemstone for me, shouldn't it?! I gave 3 stars to Bourdain's book because I was hoping for more in-depth information and descriptions of foods, locations and culture. The book doesn't disappoint - it contains all of this but I would prefer if it was longer.

I like the way Bourdain writes - with irony, self-criticism and honesty. I like that he doesn't pretend as if he has taken these trips alo
Jun 07, 2007 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, travel, food
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 28, 2014 Cissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book a lot better than I expected to, having encountered Bourdain a few times on TV and when reading interviews. I am not fond of enfants terribile in general, and Bourdain is old enough that it's an increasingly pathetic approach as his hair grays and his face wrinkles. Fortunately, his writing in this book shows little of this aspect of him directly, and his writing is engaging.

This book tracks a year of his life, as he travels around the world looking for both trouble and the "pe
May 04, 2011 tea_for_two rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was hesitant about A Cook's Tour. I thought someone who was as self-professed a egomaniac as Bourdain would be insufferable to read about, and my suspicious were not eased when my little brother, who had read the book, waxed on about how much he loved Bourdain's pleasure-seeking hedonistic lifestyle. My brother, God love him, is kinda insufferable.

I was, howerver, pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the book. Bourdain is an excellent writer. His prose is crisp and clear, and he does an
Mike Panic
May 05, 2012 Mike Panic rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain's books in audio format, I find the way he reads a really nice compliment to the book. Yesterday I knew I'd have a long day of driving and sure enough logged 430 miles. This book had been saved on my iPhone for a while in audio format and figured I'd listen to it all.

If you're a loyal watcher of No Reservations you'll relate to many of the stories, as they are recaps of what happened on the show. There's also the typical rants about vegans, and some rather nice wor
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #35 - A Cook's Tour 1 2 Jun 08, 2015 04:07PM  
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Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, in addition to the megabestsellers Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour.
His work has appeared in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and he is a contributing authority for Food Arts magazine. He is the host of the popular Emmy and Peabody Award winning television show Parts Unknown.
More about Anthony Bourdain...

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“They're professionals at this in Russia, so no matter how many Jell-O shots or Jager shooters you might have downed at college mixers, no matter how good a drinker you might think you are, don't forget that the Russians - any Russian - can drink you under the table.” 107 likes
“The journey is part of the experience - an expression of the seriousness of one's intent. One doesn't take the A train to Mecca.” 76 likes
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