I just finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s latest, “Medium Raw,” and though it is not nearly as scathing and cynical as his groundbreaking “Kitchen Confidential,” it is still a good read. On this latest outing Bourdain is just as angry, calling out all the bullshit and bullshitters so common in the foodie world, but it’s also clear that Tony is aware of his fame, and is therefore more polite and strategic when spewing his venom. Old Tony has uncharacteristically turned it down a notch.
What made “Kitchen Confidential” so enjoyable to me was how well the life lessons and observations made of the haute gourmet world applied to everyday life in general, advertising in particular – dealing with poseurs, douches, egos, arrogant, self-aggrandizing assholes, the scam behind the job, taking advantage of people, the smoke and mirrors, etc.
In “Medium Raw” Anthony sheds new light on old themes, and they still resonate with the daily lives we live. Here are a few nuggets:
· Fine Dining is a scam – According to Tony, the foodie movement is what happens when you take enough people with disposable income for a ride. By creating the illusion of a fine dining experience, you can sell menu items for 15 times the cost. Some people need to feel special, and paying $45 for grilled chicken breast does it for them. Food, like everything else, is a business, and there’s always a sucker to be had. (Example: people paying $25 for a bowl of milk sweetened with leftover cereal – the same crap you throw out when you’re done with breakfast!)
· Great chefs eat like me and you! – When they’re not on the clock, they like to sit down and have a regular old hamburger or pizza, with beer. Though they may spend their days preparing $125 dinners, they all prefer to eat “normal” food, the same kind we eat. Even great chefs know that paying more than $20 for any item off any menu in the world is ridiculous.
· Want to experience fine dining at its best? Cook at home! – The best meals are simple to make. No dish should ever have more than four ingredients. Complicated does not beget delicious. Also, cooking at home is fun, saves you A TON of money, and is healthy.