Tommy Carlson'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
Jun 28, 2012

liked it

I like Anthony Bourdain. And I like him because he's an asshole, not in spite of the fact. But I'm not overly familiar with his work. I've watched No Reservations more than a few times and I've read his scathing blog post about the Food Network, with which I heartily agree. But I haven't read any of his books.

So I downloaded Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook to my nook and gave it a go.

In general, it's a fun read. But it's not a great read. (I've been saying that about books a lot recently.) He's wonderfully assholish at times. But, at other times, he's whining about getting soft and almost apologizing for the very trait that has made him famous.

The book itself is a series of unconnected chapters. Nothing flows. There doesn't seem to be much of an over-arching idea, other than he's getting older and more mellow. Yeah, don't really care.

The better chapters are those where he describes dishes in all their glory and those where he takes aim at those well deserving his scorn.

The best chapter by far is a short one about his daughter and Ronald McDonald. It reads like edgier Calvin Trillin. I'd love to see more of this from him.

There's another chapter about fatherhood which is your standard how my life has changed now that I have a kid sentimental drivel that every writer excretes once they reproduce. Yes, it's all true, I'm sure. But it's also so painfully obvious.

The final chapter is a disaster. It's basically a Where are they now? look at characters from Kitchen Confidential. I'm sure it's a nice chapter for those who have read the earlier book. But, for me, it's a disaster because it's such a missed opportunity. Look, I'm going to be thinking one of two things here: 1) I didn't read the earlier book so I don't fucking care. 2) I didn't read the earlier book and now I really fucking want to!

Suppose he lucks out and my thought is the second one. So I head off to online B&N to get a copy. Guess what? It's not available as an eBook!

So that final chapter either leaves me bored or frustrated. It's a lose/lose proposition. Maybe a better idea would have been to release Kitchen Confidential as an eBook with that chapter added as additional bonus content?

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