Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

by Anthony Bourdain

Just what it says on the cover, a collection of previously published pieces of food, chefs, travel, and cultural commentary (plus one fiction piece).  I’m a Bourdain fan, but most of these essays are simply too short to have any real impact.  That’s not to say they’re not bad; they have his trademark snide remarks, the New York swagger tempered by open-minded desire to learn more about others.  In a magazine I’m sure they’re fine.  But, for example, a mere three printed pages on Bourdain’s first taste of Szechuan food is nearly pointless; he barely begins to describe the taste before the essay is over.  A lengthy examination of Brazilian food and culture demonstrates how much more powerful his travel writing can be when he has room (on the page) to explore.  This edition had some commentary by Bourdain on his own pieces since their publication; some of his opinions have changed, and it’s fun to read him mocking his old self as briskly as he used to mock TV chefs.

three stars

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