Is it bad that I'm waiting with baited breath for Marcus Samuelsson to fly just a little too close to the sun? You can bet I'll be there to kick him wIs it bad that I'm waiting with baited breath for Marcus Samuelsson to fly just a little too close to the sun? You can bet I'll be there to kick him when he comes crashing down.
You see, this is not a memoir. It's the story of one man's unwavering ambition, and the book itself is just a cog in the massive Marcus Samuelsson self-promotion machine, a small workhorse that gives a little more publicity to the guy who has four restaurants, catered for the Obamas at the White House, and got himself gigs on the Food Network and Bravo.
But the thing is, I don't even care about the memoir being a self-serving gig to promote his agenda. That's fine. That's business. That's the state of American publishing. What bothers me here is Marcus Samuelsson's heaping sack of steaming crap, bound up, disguised as a story, and packaged nicely by a decently talented ghost writer. The entire thing is a healthy entree of bullshit with a side of crème fraîche.
While I do appreciate the fact that Samuelsson had to endure great hardships because of the color of his skin (and I take particular glee in the fact that he called out Gordon Ramsay for being a negative, loudmouth, asshole racist), I can't stand the fact that I'm supposed to ignore the pain he inflicted on others in pursuit of his dreams of becoming a chef.
Some examples? Samuelsson missed his father's funeral because our fair chef's visa paperwork prevented him from traveling. Well. It happens, and the dead are exceedingly understanding about these things. Let's try again. Oh, yes, he broke up with a girl he'd been dating for years to follow his dreams of working in a Swiss restaurant and simply can't fathom why she's upset. He's even more perturbed that she takes a job in Switzerland with him, so to cope with his annoyance, he fucks a different girl in Austria and knocks her up; that relationship produced a daughter for whom Samuelsson paid child support but refused to meet until she was fourteen because he was too busy making his career in New York and marrying a model. (Oh, great. Just what the world needs: another little girl with daddy issues. We all know what happens with those.)
(Good thing Samuelsson made up for lost time with his kid by flying her to New York to meet Kanye West at a party. Jesus. Fucking. Christ).
You know, ambition is fine. Ambition is what makes dirtbags like Marcus Samuelsson famous while people like me write pissed off reviews on goodreads. It's the fact that Samuelsson treats the people that are supposed to be important -- his daughter, his father, women, etc. -- like crap, but then praises himself for sending monthly financial support to his family of origin in Ethiopia (that gave him up for adoption when he was a baby), or talks about how much he loves his super-wealthy supermodel wife. Funny how the only woman he respects is one who's rich and gorgeous, and the only family he takes care of is the one that sounds great in New York Times articles. UGH.
When he wasn't trying to disguise his dickheadedness with faux acts of humanity, it was all food, food, food, food, food, FOOD, FOOD, FOOD, FOOD and ... yeah, I couldn't take it.
So, Marcus Samuelsson, do your thing. Marry the model, run the chic four-star New York City restaurants. Pop up on every TV show on Bravo and the Food Network. Do your little promo thing with Illy. Rake in even more millions. Just keep flying higher, my friend...that's right, higher, right towards that warm glowing orb, just keep flying ... When you hit the ground with a thud, I'll be here waiting. With a pair of boots on....with steel-pointed toes.
Oh, and Marcus? You forgot to mention your daughter in the acknowledgments section. *shocker*
We all bought her first book because of the lovable giant that is Julia Child and the story ofLook.
Let's be honest here.
No one likes Julie Powell.
We all bought her first book because of the lovable giant that is Julia Child and the story of a promising culinary project. We had enough of those pleasant distractions to kindly ignore the loudmouth attention-whore Julie Powell, despite the fact that she was running around the background screaming "Look at me! Look at me, damn you!!" (What do you want to bet she was a theater major?)
The problem is, her followup gives us none of the positive and all of the negative from Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen: no Julia Child, no ambitious cooking project, and lots more of Julie Powell. Now, ask yourself: would YOU want to read the true story of a fat, ugly, mildly famous chick's crumbling marriage, her unabashed accounts of rough sex with her lover and complete strangers, all held together by the glue that is ... (wait for it) ... the art of butchery? Occasionally spiced up with her weird, dated and nerdy fascination with the 90's serial Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Dotted with her musings about marriage as she tanks a bottle and a half of wine each night? Would you REALLY want to read this?
Yeah, me neither.
That's precisely why this book sucks. Julie forgot us, her meager little audience, and she thinks we actually give a fuck about her life instead of her cooking projects. Here's a hint, Julie: we don't give a shit.
You know what you do after the success of Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen? You write a sequel about world cuisine a là Anthony Bourdain. Or you attempt recreating dishes from imperial menus in the 1500s and let us know how it turns out. Or you get a job at the Food Network and write a book spilling all the dirt on their chefs (does The Barefoot Contessa really have sex with her husband, or does she eat her feelings??; is Emeril gay??; is Giada bulimic??)
But guess what you don't do?
You don't publish autobiographical trash that no one gives a baker's fuck (no pun intended) about. We're your readers, not your girlfriends. Save it for your shrink.
When I picked up this book on my most recent trip to the States, I thought I'd randomly found a charming new read at the bookstore. I had no idea thatWhen I picked up this book on my most recent trip to the States, I thought I'd randomly found a charming new read at the bookstore. I had no idea that the author was already famous, that I'd actually eaten in his restaurant in New York several times when I was living there, and have actually caught some of his shows on the Travel Channel.
That said, Anthony Bourdain gets paid to travel around the world eating, getting drunk, and writing about his experiences. Lucky, lucky, lucky bastard. He has my dream job.
Nice book. I like the stories of his travels, the crazy food he has the balls to eat (the still-beating heart of a cobra, tree grubs, etc.), his descriptions of killing animals to eat are eloquent and touching, and his rants about vegetarianism, obesity, etc. are dead-on. He's charming, honest, funny, simple, and able to connect with the reader on a variety of levels.
Author Julia Powell is a mix of many people. From page one when she tells us she sold her own eggs to pay off credit debt, she is much like the dreadeAuthor Julia Powell is a mix of many people. From page one when she tells us she sold her own eggs to pay off credit debt, she is much like the dreaded person seated next to you on a long-haul flight that proceeds to tell you their life story in a matter of minutes. She is also the TMI girl that we all know, who contemplates the smell of her burps and piss, bitches incessantly about her job and Republicans, describes smelly cocks, drinks too many cocktails, tells us she sleeps with her face on her husband's ass, says fuck every other word and undoubtedly finds herself witty and funny while being oblivious to the gaping jaws and cringes of those around her. She smacks and insults her loving and patient husband while contemplating cheating on him and living vicariously through the lives of her slutty friends, both single and married. (I smell a divorce cooking.) In short, she is the loud girl we all wish would shut the fuck up.
She also started a year-long cooking/blog project -- an idea given to her and set up by the very husband she treats like garbage -- to cook every recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. She proceeds to alter and screw up recipes, partly due to their difficulty, partly due to her bad planning, and mostly due to her own stupidity: i.e., boning a fowl isn't that difficult so stop stressing about it; why don't you try asking the butcher if he can slice the bone marrow for you instead of trying it yourself and making a disgusting mess?; please don't tell us about getting lobster meat out with a tweezer. We are, of course, supposed to laugh at this and find it all funny. Ha. Ha.
As she embarked on this culinary journey, I couldn't help but remember that she'd mentioned having three cats and a python and being disgusted that this was the environment in which she'd be cooking. But no worries. She will of course tell us about the cat hair in the kitchen and in the food along with the dead mice for her snake shoved in the same bag as her cooking ingredients. And the vegetables falling on the rotted out kitchen floor, which she naturally picks up and throws into the pot. And the flies in her kitchen. That lead her to find the maggots. In her kitchen. Yummy.
Julie ends up getting lots of media attention, a big blog following, a book/movie deal out of the whole thing. An ignorant reader like myself gains a new appreciation for the complexity of Julia Child's recipes and something like (but not quite) admiration for the author actually going through with cooking every recipe in the book.
This will not go on my "sucked" shelf, as is certainly didn't suck. I give it one star for being very readable and for being a somewhat touching story of how one nobody became somebody all by herself. I simply didn't like her tone. I just couldn't take it.
I hear she has a sequel coming out next month, this time about being a butcher. Would I read it? Absolutely. Not because I want to read about her mutilating dead animals and describing even more bodily functions we don't need to know about. Really, I'm dying to know if she divorces that kind husband who was by her side the whole time. I'm betting she did. ...more