Jacqie's Reviews > Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Aug 10, 10

really liked it
Read in August, 2010

I enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, and have admired Tony Bourdain's savvy in wrenching himself out of the backbreaking world of working chefs and into the media spotlight (I mean this sincerely). He found an angle, used his smarts and sense of humor, and managed to land a dream job traveling to exotic places and seeing and eating amazing things. This is a success story to dream of. And he's honest, too, about all his shortcomings and character flaws- charmingly so. I'm sure I could have an amazing conversation with him, if he didn't get bored by me (I have a pretty good feeling he's smarter than I am). So I looked forward immensely to reading his new book. And I liked it. However. This is a book for people who are pretty clued into the food world- if you don't know what Momofuku is or have no familiarity with restaurant life, you'll be coming in at a disadvantage. This book will be hard to relate to. This is also a book for people somewhat familiar with Tony Bourdain's backstory- the work, the drugs, the fall and rise. The book is episodic- no overarching plot. Some of the episodes are wonderful to read- food porn, anyone? Some slightly less so, like the Alan Richman rant, although I see where Tony is coming from on this one and I'm sure it was fun to write.
The thing is, I'm not sure he had as much to say in this book as in his first. He is entertaining, charming, and accessible, but steps back from ever taking a real stand. He's enraged and appalled at hamburger meat content, but doesn't want to go so far as to advocate for systemic change in school meals, although he admires those who do. He doesn't understand the fuss about foie gras (I am selfishly fond of it myself) but again backs away from really taking a stand about it.
So while the book was enjoyable and I have nothing but admiration for Tony Bourdain, the book felt less raw than I expected. The man has grown up. He has a daughter. This happens to all of us, I hope. I'm happy for him. But this is a different Bourdain than you may be expecting. And I'd like to tell him: it's okay to use your reputation to stand up for what you believe in. I know your mode of operation is mockery, but if you're not cool anymore as you say (parenting and all), it's okay to occasionally be sincere. You won't embarrass yourself-you're a smart guy- and maybe it's time to put all that reputation you worked so hard to get on the line for something you actually believe in. I'll admire you either way.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Sarah Bravo, Jacqie! I read the book as well and am a big fan of T. Bourdain, basically loving anything he puts down on paper. But, this was a bit of a disappointment. I consider myself a Foodie, but didn't know half the people he slammed in the book. You captured it exactly. Stick your neck out there, Tony!

Jacqie Thanks! We'll see what he decides to do next.

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