This was an excellent reading experience. If you have read Bourdain before, then you know what you are getting. If not, this book makes an excellent entry point into his writing. He writes in a direct, honest style; he is very conversational. The work reads as if he was there sitting with you telling all those stories of places visited around the world, cooks and chefs he has met, and what he has learned along the way. He has a good eye for detail, and his descriptions just make you long to be there, wherever there happens to be. This is a collection of his short works, organized in broad themes ("bitter," "sweet" etc.). So you can read it through, or you can pick and choose. This book will make you want to travel, and it certainly will make you want to seek out some better food fare at the closest hole in the wall place you can find.
Some of the passages I enjoyed include: his look at the celebrity chef phenomenon, the story of the celebrity chef he would like to see (very unlike anything on TV), the story of cook Hamilton (the hardcore cook), eating in China where "everybody pays tomorrow" but they come back anyways the next day (my kind of food, hehe), oh, and reading about Chef Ferra was also very cool. But he also expresses other opinions such as on caning in Singapore (which is a great foodie place, by the way). He has a small piece on how to behave in restaurants that I think should be mandatory reading for anyone who needs to learn some basic manners. In the end, Bourdain combines passion with open mindedness and, this I admire, a respect for the cultures and places he visits that I find moving, interesting, entertaining, and informational; I feel I learned a lot just from this book about all sorts of places. By the way, he also includes a sampling of his fiction (I did not know he wrote fiction; nice, but I like his nonfiction better), and at the end, there are some commentaries on some of the essays. These small commentaries are kind of like the extras on a DVD, giving some further insights. This is a book I highly recommend. To those readers who have gentle dispositions, Bourdain does use some language here and there, but don't let that deter you. This is definitely a book worth reading.