Second Bookses

It's like second breakfast. Only with books.
A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines - Anthony Bourdain My husband is an avowed Food Network addict. From his game of playing Spot the Pot (finding his favorite Le Creuset dutch oven used by his favorite chefs) to his laughter at mocking Rachael Ray's lousy tipping, Food Network shows occupy approximately half our evening television watching. Every so often, a show comes on that we both like, and when I found the book version of Anthony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal, I grabbed it for him for Christmas. Little did I know that I'd read the book first, but that's life.::: Anthony Bourdain, Gonzo Chef :::Anthony Bourdain has been referred to as the "Hunter S. Thomspon" of the culinary world, and that description might not be too far off the mark. If you caught even one episode of the Food Network show bearing the same name as the book, you probably spotted Bourdain doing one of two things: smoking or drinking, and probably both. A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal is the unedited version of his quest to travel the world for the perfect meal, or, as he confesses in the book, to travel all over the world eating and drinking his face off on someone's expense account.A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal is not for the faint of heart. Even if you watched some of the more "out there" episodes of the television show, you might not be prepared for Bourdain's no-holds-barred descriptions of some of his experiences, from slaughtering a pig in Portugal to bouts of food poisoning in Asia.::: Non-Sequential Ramblings :::A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal does not follow Bourdain's tour sequentially, but rather, follows his own stream-of-consciousness recollections of his tour. The book begins with a letter home to his wife that describes the utter lack of glamor of the trip, and follows along a rambling path that takes us to Europe, Vietnam, Mexico, Cambodia, the former Soviet Union, back to Vietnam, and through the rest of his tour. Bourdain describes not only the fantastic meals featured on the show (every piece of a cobra including its still-beating heart, anyone?), but also the people he met, and the overall ambiance of the countries he fell in love with.Bourdain minces no words when it comes to his feeling of selling out by agreeing to the television show, and his obvious distaste for some of the "created" moments the producers and camera crews foisted on him is all too clear. As a loyal watcher, I felt vindicated in the uneven feeling I had when watching, but having read Bourdain's own account of his trip, I can now see that the episodes I enjoyed were parts of his journey where he enjoyed himself, and the parts I didn't were more of the "forced" situations.Regardless of whether or not you have a cast-iron stomach, most of the food that Bourdain describes will have your mouth watering. His descriptions of the meals he loved left even my currently pregnancy-poisoned mouth watering, and I swear that he can make even haggis sound like a tempting treat. His obvious delight in native culture is never so apparent than in his descriptions of his time in Mexico and in Vietnam, where he seems almost like a child in a candy store with an unlimited pocket of change: out to experience every single morsel of goodness that he can. From roasted goat in Morocco to caviar in St. Petersburg to a simple bown of pho in the morning in Vietnam, Bourdain describes an entire experience, from the food to people to sights and sounds.::: Reader Discretion Advised :::Bourdain pulls no punches in his writing, which might make A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal unsuitable for a gift for grandma. He makes no secret of his drug use (both former addiction to heroin and current recreational use of marijuana and hash) and lets fly with his opinions at the drop of a hat. His utter disdain for Food Network hosts had me laughing out loud, because I truly thought there was no person on Earth who found Bobby Flay as annoying as I did until I read the book. He describes his wife punching out another woman in a bar, and doesn't bat an eye when discussing the prostitution prevalent in areas of Asia he visits. And woe betide the card-carrying PETA member, for Bourdain does not suffer vegans silently, nor anyone who prevents him from smoking.However, for anyone who has always wanted to have a foodie tour of the world without the innate fears many of us have about eating from street vendors or being served possibly endangered species, A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal is a must-read.This review originally published at Epinions:

Currently reading

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
Susanna Clarke
Elisabeth Sladen: The Autobiography
Elisabeth Sladen, David Tennant
Diary of a Submissive: A Modern True Tale of Sexual Awakening
Sophie Morgan
Bellman & Black
Diane Setterfield
Deep into the Heart of a Rose
G.T. Denny