Pin It
Favorite

'Medium Raw,' Anthony Bourdain 

The Travel Channel host and former chef spices up food writing with the three Fs.

click to enlarge art15506.jpg

In some cases, the tone of food writing simulates the experience of dining at an elegant restaurant. Each sentence is carefully chosen, arranged and brought forth on a platter. The word choice is subtle, refined — is that a hint of French influence? — and every phrase is to be savored. You can hear the classical music being piped in through the prose.

Anthony Bourdain’s writing style, by contrast, simulates the experience of being in the back of the house in a restaurant’s chaotic kitchen — one of those kitchens where everything’s running behind, the head chef is cursing and dishes are breaking. There’s a grease fire, a burned hand and a severed finger, and the city’s top food critic has just been spotted in the lobby.

I mean that in the best possible way. Bourdain’s writing is profane, energetic and a bit messy. He’ll splatter the pages of what should be a dry discussion on food trends with profanity, sex and bodily fluids. His vocabulary is an odd mixture of Gourmet magazine and bathroom stall, a bubbling cauldron of feces, foie gras and fellatio.

Medium Raw is Bourdain’s follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, his exposé about the insane things that went on at the restaurant he used to cook for. Like many follow-ups, the focus isn’t quite as narrow.

Each chapter is a separate essay, with the genres ranging wide from memoir to food review to state-of-the-scene assessment to rant. (Well, to be fair, rants course through a large majority of his essays.)

He speaks about everything from his former cocaine use to the scourge of “tasting menus,” from the heroes and villains of the food world to how restaurants attempt to seduce food critics. He writes an entire chapter called “Alan Richman Is a Douchebag,” which consists mainly of (you guessed it) calling food critic Alan Richman a douchebag.

Praising a fellow food writer, Bourdain writes, “She rarely if ever commits the first and most common sin of food writing — being boring.”

And that’s Bourdain’s writing philosophy: He can range among arrogant, self-loathing, bitter, artificially incensed, and gleefully passionate. But he’s never boring.

  • Pin It

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • Fear and the Faithful
  • Fear and the Faithful

    Into the heart of the NCAA tournament over three days in Seattle
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Bringing it Home
  • Bringing it Home

    The Gonzaga women make a Cinderella run that brings them to Spokane for the Sweet 16
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Ascending Artist: Brian Houghton
  • Ascending Artist: Brian Houghton

    How one still-evolving artist learned not to be constrained by conventions
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri
Through the Lens: An American Century — Corbis & Vivian Maier

Through the Lens: An American Century — Corbis & Vivian Maier @ Museum of Art/WSU

Mondays-Saturdays. Continues through April 3

All of today's events | Staff Picks

Most Commented On

  • The Java Experience

    Caffé Affogato brings Italian-style coffees to Saranac Commons
    • Mar 11, 2015
  • New Beginning

    After opening quietly last fall, Happiness Chinese Restaurant is turning heads on East Sprague
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation