Book: The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain

Generally quite good collection of short pieces originally published in newspapers and magazines

Anthony Bourdain
The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones
Bloomsbury, 2006
ISBN-13: 978-1-59691-360-8
ISBN-10: 1-59691-360-6
288 pages

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones is a collection of 36 short articles and one story by the chef Anthony Bourdain. They were all originally published in newspapers and magazines. Any collection of that size is bound to be a bit of a mixed bag, and the book's title suggests that Mr Bourdain is aware of that fact. (Indeed, in a series of commentaries on the articles at the end of the book, he says so explicitly.) Even so, the large majority of the articles are good fun to read. People who have read Mr Bourdain's previous excellent books about food, Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour, won't find very many new themes addressed here but they'll find at least a few of them addressed in new ways.

Most of the articles are about food and, for me personally, it's a pleasure to read Mr Bourdain's writing about food because he's sufficiently sure of what's important that he feels no need to be reverent about it. He is cheerfully crass and often profane and yet communicates an almost spiritual connection with food and the people who make it.

One article in the book ("Food and Loathing in Las Vegas") is a pastiche of Hunter S. Thompson and, perhaps not surprisingly, it doesn't really work. And the short story ("A Chef's Christmas") falls a bit flat too. Happily those are exceptions. "Counter Culture" communicates the joys of eating simply on the other side of a counter from the person doing the cooking. "A View from the Fridge" is about how to be a good customer at a restaurant and told me several things I didn't know. And "Brazilian Beach Blanked Bingo", which is about visiting Brazil with some of the cooks of the restaurant Sushi Samba, made me want to visit there. Despite Mr Bourdain's "aw-shucks" tone, he occasionally reveals that he is very smart indeed. And he's almost always worth listening to, especially about food.

There aren't any huge revelations in the book. It's more like a large number of small courses, most of them very tasty.

Posted: Sun - July 13, 2008 at 02:01 PM   Main   Category: