So when I learnt that he’d written a few books too, I had to get my hands on at least one of them, and Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly turned out to be a delectable choice. I can happily report that I savoured every morsel of this tasty expose of the culinary (under)world.
Bourdain certainly pulls no punches; describing in often gory detail both the tasty and unsavoury aspects of the restaurant and culinary world which would leave you cringing in some parts, and laughing out loud in others. He goes much further in revealing some of his own nasty habits and weaknesses through 30-odd years, such as drug abuse, but he does make some revolting revelations about a few of his colleagues in the industry as well. But they all somehow manage to come off looking like decorated military veterans.
There is much food for thought (pardon the pun) in his many anecdotes, not to mention some very sound advice about things that both diners and potential chefs should avoid. While some of the revelations will leave you almost gagging, others should be of great assistance when making choices to dine out.
For the most part though it is fantastic light reading, often hilarious and produces some of the following excellent quotations:
1. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.
2. Like I said before, your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.
3. As an art form, cooktalk is, like haiku or kabuku, defined by established rules, with a rigid, traditional framework in which one may operate. All comments must, out of historical necessity, concern involuntary rectal penetration, penis size, physical flaws or annoying mannerisms or defects.
There are many more memorable mentions in the book that will make it hard to put down. I’m looking forward to my next Anthony Bourdainesque look at the fascinating world of all things culinary.