Angel '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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Sep 09, 10

bookshelves: biography-and-memoir, commentary-and-opinion, foods-and-epicurious
Read from September 03 to 09, 2010, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** This was one I enjoyed. It is not a perfect book. There are a couple of chapters that I just found slow or just not interesting enough (the one on Chef Chang and the chapter before that one come to mind). However, Bourdain is strongest when writing about more common experiences. I found the chapter about Justo, the fish cutter, to be an interesting look at how food is prepared by people who rarely get the recognition. Sure, the chefs get all the glory, but they look good only because people like Justo prep their food behind the scenes, and those folk can't even eat at the restaurants they work for (whether because they can't afford it or just forbidden). Bourdain did twist that when he arranges for Justo to have a meal where he works, and that is a nice narrative as well.

There are other good essays as well. Yes, Alan Richman is more than just a douchebag. Just Google his name and New Orleans to see why. And if you look up Richman's reply to this book, you only get confirmation Richman is indeed a douchebag.

Bourdain does quite a bit of self-reflection in this book. Sure, he still is the snarky, cranky, guy who gets to travel around the world eating stuff only you and I dream about. But he also tells it like it is, and he always has a healthy respect for the food and the people who prepare it. I think the best point he makes, which he has made before, is about eating what is offered to you. In other words, if you go to some foreign nation, and the locals have taken the time and effort to prepare their best for you, eat it and say thank you. It's the least you can do. Bourdain travels and eats, but you have to give him his due as a writer. He is a strong writer with a good, engaging style. His fans will definitely enjoy this book.

Oh, and if you have read Kitchen Confidential, there is a follow-up to tell you what has happened to a lot of the cast in that other book.
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Reading Progress

09/03/2010 page 49
17.0% "After reading the chapter about the rich in St. Barths, it makes me glad I am poor. Talk about going into the Heart of Darkness."
09/04/2010 page 111
40.0% "The rich eat differently, and boy am I glad I am poor (so I can actually eat good stuff). And how burgers may go the way of Starbucks (and no, this is not good)."
09/07/2010 page 179
64.0% "Alan Richman is more than a douchebag (you'll have to read the book to find out why). Oh, and Bourdain names his heroes and villains."
09/08/2010 page 209
74.0% ""The kitchen is the last meritocracy--a world of absolutes; one knows without any ambiguity at the end of the day how one did." The previous chapter on Keller was a bit long. But overall, book is still good."
09/08/2010 page 243
86.0% "Did not care much for the chapter on Chang. However, the one now on Justo, the fish cutter at Le Bernardin is more interesting, and you learn a bit about why that piece of fish you order at the fancy place costs you 40 bucks (even if the fish itself is 10 bucks a pound)."
09/08/2010 page 252
90.0% "Bourdain takes Justo to eat at his own restaurant. A very moving part of the chapter, and we get to appreciate a bit more this man who works so hard so people with a hell of a lot more money can eat their elegant meals. I think this is one of the best chapters in the book."
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