An autobiographical tale of one man's love obsession with food and the business of making food. Anthony Bourdain, famous chef of television and New York kitchens, gives an unflinching look into the business of food.
What I liked
Writing Style. Bourdain's story is told in a rambling, disjointed style that comes across more like a diary or book of short stories than a narrative memoir. This has positive and negative effects, the positive allowing the book to feel like a stranger telling you stories at the end of a heavy nights drinking at the bar.
Characters. The stories are filled with a cast of disjointed, eclectic individuals that make a prison yard look like a kindergarten. Punctuated with stories of success and excess, these people carry the stories as you learn their strengths in the kitchen and their weaknesses in life.
Honesty. The book is unflinching in the sex, drugs and rock and roll that Bourdain lived in. The candid nature of the text made me at times look back at my own time in kitchens and the reasons why I would go back and the reasons I ran screaming.
What I didn’t like
Sometimes distracting food porn. This book is as much about food as it is about Bourdain's life. This book has more food porn than the Hunger Games as the chef goes into detailed lists of various dishes in various languages. This can sometimes break the narrative or derail it entirely, sometimes distracting to the point that this reader had to stop and make a sandwhich or two to stop a growling stomach. This gives points to the effectiveness of his descriptions, but can stop the reading cold.
Broken biography. As I stated above, the writing style has negative moments. Like the food porn, jumping from story to story, life point to life point can be frustrating for the reader as it interupts the flow of the narrative. This might be just me, but when a writer gives candid and detailed descriptions in most of his text, the "boring" parts that are glossed over are just that more apparent.
Why was this book be banned?
I have no evidence of this book being banned from a school or library, but do not expect this book to be handed out at student job fairs. Graphic language including tales of sex, drug use and all around debauchery fill this book with a sometimes delightful glee.
Who would like this book?
Liberally minded foodies will also enjoy the obvious love of food in these pages. Adults who also indulge in books about rock stars cutting loose will enjoy the hell out of this book. I fear and hope that some teenagers out there get this book into their hands, as I believe as much as this book fills me with nostalgia it would prepare those who would venture into kitchens either as temporary employment or as a career.