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Late Nite Adobo

Typing out thoughts on a website… when the cravings hit you in the late nite…

by Tondagossa


I’ve been putting this one off for some time now.  Why?  Because it’s a book review.  Reviewing a book, one that’s really well-written, makes me a bit self-conscious about writing eloquently… or about using fancy words like “eloquently”.  That’s what writing book reports back in high school do to you I guess.  I’m scarred for life.

I may be 9 years too late in doing this (since the book came out in 2000/01), but I feel it’s my duty to push on, let people know about Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.  If you already know about it, this is my attempt at encouraging you to pick it up and read it.  Not because I’m a foodie, although that’s true.  Not because I enjoy Bourdain’s television presence, which is also true.  I’m telling you this because it’s simply a great book – deeply engrossing, richly detailed, sincerely funny.  If you are a cook of any caliber, a lover of food, or just someone who enjoys a nice book, this is a definite must-read.  And if you need more convincing or reasons… well then, I guess I’m just gonna have to roll up my sleeves and try.

“The life of the cook was a life of adventure, looting, pillaging and rock-and-rolling through life with a carefree disregard for all conventional morality.”

— Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

Here’s an understatement: Bourdain’s lived quite the life.  I’m not talking about the “wining and dining” kind of life – the contrary really.  He begins this book in his childhood, letting us in on the origin of his culinary lifestyle.  You’re soon pulled into his world of fine and not-so-fine dining, meeting wonderful or wonderfully shady people, going to strange parts of different cities.  Drugs, sex, immoral behavior… we’re not describing rock stars here.  He sometimes does portray cooks in that light.  Secrets about the food industry that no one going “out on the town” should ever know are passed on to us.  We get to know the summits and pitfalls of his career, in most cases the latter.

If you’re familiar with his narration style, you’ll find more of it here.  His writing will draw you in, force you to see how things were through his eyes, and even let you listen in on his thoughts, oftentimes to amusing effect.  He paints the people who have played major roles in his life with vivid character and personality.  You are taken on tours of restaurants from his career, invited in to have a look around the kitchens, get to know the strangely likable “pirate” crew working there, maybe even have a taste of the menu items.  And the descriptions of the food and their preparation… beautifully illustrated, nearly coming off the pages.

What did I get out of this ride?  By the end of the book, I felt I’ve really gotten know this Bourdain fellow.  Not like how we know him on TV, but deeper than that.  I’ve seen parallels to my own life throughout the book, as I’m sure most of you would.  Even more, it made me question why I never attempted to become a professional cook, while at the same time reminding me why I avoided the industry altogether.  He doesn’t sugarcoat a single thing, but at the same time he makes you appreciate how food gets to your table.  The book brought me times of reflection and also tears …from laughing so hard.

If you haven’t read Kitchen Confidential yet, do yourself a favor and check it out.  Oh, and did I mention I highly recommend this book?


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