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A Cook's Tour In Search of the Perfect Meal

3.96  ·  Rating Details  ·  16,665 Ratings  ·  828 Reviews
Swashbuckling chef Anthony Bourdain, author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential (which famously warned restaurant-goers against ordering fish on Mondays), travels where few foodies have thought to travel before in search of the perfect meal: the Sputnik-era kitchen of a "less-than-diminutive" St. Petersburg matron, the provincial farmhouse of a Portuguese pig-slaughter ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published 2001 by Bloomsbury
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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
Feb 10, 2012 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
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
Mar 08, 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
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
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,
Jun 26, 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
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
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
Dec 24, 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
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
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
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
May 21, 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
Mar 03, 2010 bethanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves "no reservations"
Shelves: read-in-2010
I was anxious to pick up "A Cook's Tour" after having a BLAST reading "kitchen confidential" and man, this book does NOT disappoint!

Based on the former food network TV series, "A Cook's Tour" follows Anthony as he travels all over the world in search of the "perfect" meal. Along the way, shenanigans and adventures are to be had as Anthony travels the globe. The book is written in the same style as "Kitchen Confidential", but as if he's going on a whirlwind tour of the world.

If you're a fan of "
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 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
Before No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain did a short-lived series with much the same premise for the Food Network. There was an actual plot, of sorts: the search for the perfect meal. From reading the book, it seems like he gave up on that as impossible idea early on and just enjoyed himself. From the show? The fact that it was on Food Network explains very neatly why the show hasn't seen the light of day in years and this book is the one and only exposure most people will have to it.

Anthony Bou
Oct 08, 2015 Gracy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm a great fan of Bourdain's, and really loved his Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. This book was a pleasant read, best taken in chapter-sized doses. Not because its hard to read or bad, but because each adventure is like a stand-alone short story. The book parallels Bourdain's adventures in filming his first travel food TV show, but the discussions of the TV filming minutiae are thankfully brief. His feelings and the cultures visited are far more prominent, making i ...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.
Aug 17, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, nonfiction
I really like Bourdain's witty, yet irreverent style of narration on his show No Reservations. I have to say though, I prefer the writing he does on his show more than his writing for his books. I'm one who likes to throw in big, polysyllabic words into my writing, but not so much that people feel like they have to read it with a dictionary propped up next to them. That's how I feel when I'm reading Bourdain's writing. While I love his humor, sometimes I think he could turn down the literary eli ...more
Jan 16, 2012 Zannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a lover of food and travel, it was wonderful to curl up with this quick read. The often irreverant Bourdain tames his tongue just enough to satisfy the reader with the edge they expect, but his deep respect for food and the people who create masterful dishes is the real pull. With equal parts sarcastic wit, mouth-watering descriptions of exotic, yet simple dishes and poignant, respectful observations of diverse cultures, I found this a refreshing diversion from his other books. There are part ...more
Anthony Bourdain is a lot of fun to read and to watch on television. A lot of the stories in this book I already knew from rented DVDs of "A Cook's Tour" from the public library, but I still hung on every word. As a writer and traveler, Bourdain offers a great deal of insight and reflection, as well as humor. He fully acknowledges his position as a Westerner traveling the world on the Network's dime, and is conscious of his otherness, his consumption of not only food but culture, as he "goes bam ...more
Jan 06, 2010 Tiffany rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I distinctly remember waking up one morning in a cold sweat, jerked out of a nightmare where Tony Bourdain was coming to dinner. That's right, I had a nightmare about a chef. Bourdain's sardonic wit and flair for the absurd come through strongly in "A Cook's Tour," but I couldn't help feeling that something was missing. I haven't read his first book, but this one had the sophomore feel to it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this book, frequently laughing out loud at Bourdain's misadventures throug ...more
Bonnie E.
Feb 26, 2012 Bonnie E. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is way more than just a book about food. The author takes us to different places around the globe and no matter whether it's Cambodia, Portugal or Napa Valley, strap on your seat belt because it's quite a ride! Bourdain is eccentric in the truest and best sense and I enjoyed reading about the foods he ate, the people he encountered, the situations he handled (or not). and his reactions to all of the above. It combines a few of my favorite subjects: adventure, food, and travel, and the autho ...more
So entertaining, like reading an episode of Bourdain's show. I like his sense of humor and his style of travel.
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
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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.” 100 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.” 73 likes
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