Excellent writing about food and cooking by Anthony Bourdain gives us a real image of delicious food that evokes a desire to taste it immediately. Being a chef in New York City for more than 25 years long, he managed to render the atmosphere of the city in the book, which we can feel on every page while reading it. Anthony describes those first hard days with his assistants when they had to prepare a complicated dish of a stew dope and make everything in time. He compares that time with “apocalypse”. (Bourdain, 2000). Later the time when he was a chef was a terrific, beneficial period for every restaurant he worked in. His main idea about food is that it has to be first of all for pleasure, but not for aesthetical tastes. We have to admire food with our stomach and not with our head. There are exceptional remarks in the book about the cooking in the famous New York restaurants.
Bourdain narrates about his admiration for food and passion for his work. He is a fighter for purity of customs; his addiction to work is strong as we see from the book. Bourdain does not write in a clear and professional manner characteristic of a writer thought. The readers can notice it when in one of the chapters he calls his clients “hicks” and other people who do not belong to a restaurant business “civilians” (Bourdain, 2000). His attitude to writing is the same as his attitude to food: precise, brief and accurate. The funny and sometimes improper way of his writing has a distinctive thrill. He compares food with strength and sexuality. Bourdain’s beloved kitchen assistants are alcoholics, druggies, and former dolts, all worldly. Those guys look like pirates. Tattoos are all over their bodies. They plunder the kitchen and take everything valuable they can find there. Bourdain disdains waiters with the strong passion and vegetarians, does not like other restaurant owners, but he is welcoming person on weekends. He uses curse words and speaks in an abusive way. Sometimes he addresses himself to chefs in the following way: “Show up at work on time six months in a row and we’ll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you: `Shut the fuck up.’ (Bourdain, 2000). He is attentive to those customers who order chicken or well-done meat. When he tried in France for the first time the “stinky runny cheeses that smelled like a dead man’s feet” and his first oyster, “this glistening, vaguely sexual-looking object, still dripping and nearly alive” (Bourdain, 2000), he realized the pure sense of food. He became enthusiastic about basic ingredients without any of the bothersome honoring.
Kitchen Confidential contains some boring and unnecessary parts. There are too many discussions about the restaurant business conditions, which might be not attractive for a gourmand reader. There are too many extra things about the people whom the author has known for ages and who work for him. At the same time, this pun adds liveliness to the book. One of my favorite chapters is “Dessert” and another one is “Coffee and a Cigarette”. In the chapter “Dessert” Bourdain describes his working day at Les Halles in France. He talks about business, restaurant staff, rushing around when there might be special clients; he talks about respect to his sous-chefs. I discovered amusing things about a daily routine of a cook.