15. Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain
Kitchen Confidential is a great book, you can truly get a feel for the workings of a kitchen and I really enjoyed Bourdain’s portrayal of the kinds of people it takes to make a restaurant work. Not unlike a public library, it takes a combination of high art and low art to make everything run smoothly and employees who get it do well and employees who don’t get it need to leave. When I picked up Medium Raw I was looking for a bit more confirmation of those ideas…but it’s a little bit too disconnected to solidify anything. I guess I wanted a more composed valentine rather than a collection of articles. Sometimes when people put out books that are collections of articles it makes me wonder if they were not forced to make choices or focus. If the cover said this was going to be a collection of articles published elsewhere I would have been totally up for that, because the choice would have been obvious. Usually, unfocused collections turn up after an author dies because someone pretending to be altruistic publishes whatever they can find “for the fans.” Even though I’ll still read every one of these collections that involves Kurt Vonnegut I feel a bit icky about them.
The best part of Medium Raw is the bit about Justo Thomas cutting fish. The respect and reverence that Bourdain has for the man is well-deserved and freakishly obvious. And it was well reinforced by Thomas’ appearance on Top Chef All Stars, it was nice to see him in action after reading about his skills.