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The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bonesby Anthony Bourdain
Anthony strikes again in this witty commentary on food, travel, and why he writes mysteries. This is kind of a companion book to his TV series No Reservations, but it is more than that. The title says it all about what he's thinking and what wasn't shown on TV. The Nasty Bits is a must for any Anthony Bourdain fan. If you have only seen him on TV, get his book. You won't be sorry.
Synopses & Reviews
Bestselling chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain has never been one to pull punches. In The Nasty Bits, he serves up a well-seasoned hellbroth of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures. Whether scrounging for eel in the backstreets of Hanoi, revealing what you didn't want to know about the more unglamorous aspects of making television, calling for the head of raw food activist Woody Harrelson, or confessing to lobster-killing guilt, Bourdain is as entertaining as ever. Bringing together the best of his previously uncollected nonfiction — and including new, never-before-published material — The Nasty Bits is a rude, funny, brutal and passionate stew for fans and the uninitiated alike.
"In this typically bold effort, Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential), like the fine chef he is, pulls together an entertaining feast from the detritus of his years of cooking and traveling. Arranged around the basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (a Japanese term for a taste the defies description), this scattershot collection of anecdotes puts Bourdain's brave palate, notorious sense of adventure and fine writing on display. From the horrifying opening passages, where he joins an Arctic family in devouring a freshly slaughtered seal, to a final work of fiction, the text may disappoint those who've come to expect more honed kitchen insights from the chef. Surprisingly, though, the less substantive kitchen material Bourdain has to work from only showcases his talent for observation. This book isn't for the effete foodies Bourdain clearly despises (though they'd do well to read it). He criticizes celebrity chefs, using Rocco DiSpirito as a 'cautionary tale,' and commends restaurants that still serve stomach-turning if palate-pleasing dishes, such as New York's Pierre au Tunnel (now closed), which offered tête de veau, essentially 'calf's face, rolled up and tied with its tongue and thymus gland.' Fans of Bourdain's hunger for the edge will gleefully consume this never-boring book. Author tour. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The trouble is, the act is getting old. When chef Anthony Bourdain first wrote 'Kitchen Confidential' and 'A Cook's Tour,' his material fairly sizzled. He was a trouper in the trenches of the food world, sending us raw and fascinating communiques about life in some of New York's so-called finest restaurants, then wandering the globe in an aggressive but wistful search for the perfect meal. He managed... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) to capture the all-too-bizarre connection between unattractive physical strivings and the dreamy romantic love that the preparation of food demands. He was outrageous; he told us things that (maybe) we didn't want to know. Then Bourdain got his television show. His persona developed. He swaggered and swashbuckled. He knew all about drugs and drink and staying up late and dating deep-fried scorpions. He was one of those mean chefs chary of kind words and profligate in faultfinding. He was macho to the max. (Anyone who's ever worked in a restaurant has met the likes of Bourdain, and it's nice to see that gruff persona making its way into print.) But how many celebrity chefs can America accommodate? Wolfgang Puck has become a bit of a joke by now, with his awful canned soups and airport greasy spoons, but what about Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse and even Rachael Ray? They all manage to convey the fairly revolutionary idea that you can cook and not seethe with rage — that combining ingredients over a fire is not like channeling Jesse James or John Dillinger or even Jack Palance; that food preparation may be closer to art and craft than a shootout. But still Bourdain is out there, disclosing the dark secrets — the 'nasty bits' — of the restaurant kitchen, or so the subtitle would suggest: 'Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones.' But these bits aren't nasty at all. They're stray collected pieces, taken from various newspapers and magazines. What they really are is repetitive, and what Bourdain really needs most is an editor. Invoking 'monkfish liver' more than a few times in a short book seems too much, given all the different foods in our bountiful world. Using words like 'waddle,' 'slurp' and 'unctuous' way too many times shows a startling failure of the imagination. And ditto for 'obnoxious,' even when he uses it disarmingly to describe himself. And so much 'fainting' or 'almost fainting' makes Bourdain sound more like a Victorian maiden in need of smelling salts than a world-traveling swashbuckler. Bourdain's concerns are the same as in his earliest, entirely admirable volumes. He aims, as always, to gross out the reader, to remind him or her of the raw and primitive origins of food and our undiscriminating hunger for it. (Close your eyes for the next quote, if it's too early in the morning for you.) The introduction finds him 'sitting cross-legged on a plastic-covered kitchen floor listening to Charlie, my (Inuit) host, his family, and a few tribal elders giggling with joy as they sliced and tore into a seal carcass, the raw meat, blubber, and brains of our just-killed catch. Grandma squealed with delight as Charlie cracked open the seal's skull, revealing its brains — quickly digging into the goo with her fingers. ... Mom generously slit open one of the eyeballs (the best part) and showed me how to suck out the interior as if working on an oversize Concord grape.' For dessert, frozen blackberries are rolled around in the seal's blood and fat. 'They were delicious,' Bourdain reports. OK, we're duly grossed out, duly impressed. But more and more of us by now — if we frequent Japanese restaurants — have tried raw eel and sea urchin, and, if we've hauled out on a tourist trip to China, crunched down on a fried scorpion. (American pioneers in the 19th century gave grasshoppers the same treatment.) And some people in this country voluntarily drink kiefer). All food, if you think about it, is a little awful, unless you're hungry. And Bourdain may be running out of examples of what goes back, ultimately, to the childhood game of 'Look!' (It consists of opening your mouth while it's full of chewed food to torment your siblings and scandalize your mom.) Bourdain has, as always, two overriding themes. One is the hideous squalor of fast-food and chain restaurants, and he delivers more than a few hellfire-and-brimstone sermons on McDonald's french fries and pale, altogether disgusting meat waiting in some grungy deep freeze until a pale, disgusting customer waddles in to consume it. But we knew that already. Most of all, he valorizes the cult of his profession. 'We chefs take pride in our work,' he writes, 'both in whatever degree of artistry or craft we bring to our product and also in the grim business of cranking out table after table of hot, properly prepared food.' This sort of thing slides sometimes into a sort of aggrieved self-pity. 'As citizens of the world ... we should remember the way it felt, scraping potatoes onto a garbage-strewn floor, scrubbing grease-caked pots with cold water, bending to the will of crazed and increasingly parsimonious masters.' All this is obviously interesting and undeniably true. It's just that Bourdain has said it before, and he's put these pieces together, it seems, without reading the whole thing through — tasting for seasonings, if you will. He wouldn't cook that way. Customers would send it back." Reviewed by Carolyn See, who may be reached at www.carolynsee.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"A vibrant discourse on satisfying hungers of every kind." Kirkus Reviews
"Lovers of adventurous culinary experiences will find much to whet their appetites here, and those who loathe the celebrity chef phenomena will find a friend in Bourdain." Library Journal
"Bourdain's enthusiasm is so intense that it practically explodes off the page...Bourdain shows himself to be one of the country's best food writers. His opinions are as strong as his language, and his tastes as infectious as his joy." New York Times Book Review
"[Writes] the kind of book you read in one sitting, then rush about annoying your coworkers by declaiming whole passages." USA Today
"Bourdain's prose is utterly riveting, swaggering with stylish machismo and a precise ear for kitchen patois." New York magazine
"Bawdie, bolshy and bursting with energy." Daily Mail (UK)
"Fantastic: as lip-smackingly seductive as a bowl of fat chips and aioli." Daily Telegraph (UK)
Bestselling chef and "No Reservations" host Anthony Bourdain has never been one to pull punches. In his latest work, he serves up a well-seasoned "hellbroth" of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures.
The good, the bad, and the ugly, served up Bourdain-style.
Bestselling chef and No Reservations host Anthony Bourdain has never been one to pull punches. In The Nasty Bits, he serves up a well-seasoned hellbroth of candid, often outrageous stories from his worldwide misadventures. Whether scrounging for eel in the backstreets of Hanoi, revealing what you didn't want to know about the more unglamorous aspects of making television, calling for the head of raw food activist Woody Harrelson, or confessing to lobster-killing guilt, Bourdain is as entertaining as ever. Bringing together the best of his previously uncollected nonfiction--and including new, never-before-published material--The Nasty Bits is a rude, funny, brutal and passionate stew for fans and the uninitiated alike.
About the Author
Anthony Bourdain is the author of seven books including the bestselling Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour. A thirty-year veteran of professional kitchens, he is the host of No Reservations on the Discovery Channel, and the executive chef at Les Halles in Manhattan. He lives in New York City.
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