“Appetites” by Anthony Bourdain: A Book Review

November 23, 2016

By Karen

Since Anthony Bourdain hit critical mass, turning whatever he touches to triumph, it’s unsurprising that Appetites: A Cookbook is hitting best seller lists and getting rave reviews.

It’s beautifully produced under his own Ecco imprint, with recipe titles in a font that must be called BourdainHand. Its many full-page photos include several of wife Ottavia and daughter Ariane (never full face; he explains it’s her decision on how public to go when she’s old enough). Ottavia’s grappling dummy and Eric Ripert even make appearances.

Overall, the photos and artwork are intended more to shock and awe than illustrate. Bourdain told a talk show host (one of the Jimmys) that bookstores are wrapping the book in paper because the cover art is disturbing. Inside are gratuitous animal parts and guts, including a pig bladder inflated to float like a balloon.

appetites

I’m surprised the photo of Tony (page 176) armed and barely recognizable in camo hasn’t been hijacked by the alt-right. He could be Donald Trump’s poster boy.

It’s probably the only cookbook you’ll ever own with the words fuck and shit sprinkled throughout like condiments.

It’s dedicated to Ariane and Jacques. No, not Pépin, but Ariane’s BFF, the son of her Filipino nanny (see page 246).

As a Bourdainiac, I was fascinated by his deconstructions of what we’ve seen him eat. The dishes reflect his constant globetrotting, and perhaps unintentionally drive home that someone else cooked and cleaned up later. The book’s a towering testament to how thoroughly out of touch he has become with how regular people eat.

He claims the recipes are from his childhood, his travels, and “food memories” he shares with his daughter. If that’s true, Tony and Ariane are the creepiest father-daughter duo since Gomez and Wednesday Addams because 9-year-old Ariane must be possessed of the presence of mind to ask, “Daddy, can I have a Roast Beef Po’ Boy?” two days before she wants to eat it, because that’s how long it takes to make one (page 81).

Many recipes have a two-day lead time, not including shopping at specialty stores or Amazon to assemble myriad ingredients you’ve probably never heard of. This makes them also very pricey and will leave you with a pantry full of slightly used shit you’ll have no idea what else to do with.

For example, Korean Fried Chicken (page 165) looked good until I realized I was fresh out of gochugaru, gochujama, and cheongju, not to mention four QUARTS of oil, and I needed two days to fry it twice.

His whole steamed chicken, “Poulet ‘en vessie,’” (page 168) seems reasonable enough until you need to grab four whole truffles and 4 oz. of foie gras out of the fridge.

With each recipe, he thoughtfully includes a list of any special equipment needed. This often consists of a plate “lined with newspapers” for draining.

REALLY??!! Does he ever gaze out over his adoring, hip young audiences during personal appearances and see people who would ever dream of buying an actual newspaper? Would they even recognize one if they saw it?

Otherwise his cooking instructions and advice are pretty spot-on, if snarky, with occasional lapses into Les Halles-speak. For example, as an alternative to tossing his Salad of Boston Lettuce with Radishes, Carrots, Apples, and Yogurt-Chive Dressing (page 29), he suggests leaving everything “segregated, as for salade composée.” Got that?

My current idol, Jacques Pépin, gets mentioned in the first two recipes involving eggs for his cracking and stirring techniques. But Bourdain reveals himself as the unPépin of home cooking. Where Jacques relies on ordinary ingredients and simple preparation, with an eye always on the budget, Bourdain’s recipes are the polar opposite.

I noticed Tony lifted one recipe, Linguine with White Clam Sauce (page 126) from Pépin, which was named after Pépin’s wife, “Gloria’s Linguine with Clam Sauce.” The only differences are that they prefer different types of clams, Bourdain throws in butter (he uses vats) and he doesn’t mention topping with parmesan cheese.

Appetites probably won’t be your go-to cookbook when you need a quick and tasty meal on the table. If your idea of what constitutes a good recipe matches mine…

  1. Is it straightforward and uncomplicated?
  2. Do I already have most of the ingredients?
  3. Can I make it without destroying the whole kitchen?
  4. Can it be done in one day?

…for most of Bourdain’s dishes, the answers are no, no, no, and no.

I did like his tip on making a Grilled Cheese with Caramelized Onions (page 84). Instead of butter, he slathers the outside of the bread with mayonnaise for a nice brown crust. But then he blows it by recommending freaking Japanese milk bread, whatever the hell that is.

There’s no dessert chapter because Tony says he’s not a pastry chef and would rather have cheese.

Pépin, on the other hand, has many dessert recipes from his childhood that often call for a simple store-bought dough or cake, with fruit and preserves. They require no special skill, they’re quick, and they look tasty.

Bourdain’s chapter on Thanksgiving seems useful until he recommends roasting a small “stunt turkey” for looks and then a “business bird” you actually carve and eat — AND making stock with an additional 5-7 lbs. of wings and necks.

Blogger Treehugger totally went off on the stunt turkey, so I’ll let her handle that.

The book’s best, most usable chapter is Sides. I’d definitely try the Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame (page 241) because jazzing up cauliflower is a thing for me. And I’ve already tried Korean-Style Radish Pickles (page 251) because I had an abundance of radishes, although not the daikon he recommends.

It’s only been two days (he recommends three), but here they are. They look more like chopped hot dogs now, but they taste OK, slightly sweet, with a tad of bite.

pickledradishes

I consult my two Pépin cookbooks almost daily, Appetites isn’t meant to be like that. It’s more of a grand “Fuck you!” to the cookbook genre.

I’ll let it sit beside Tony’s also little-used Les Halles Cookbook and maybe ask for an autograph if he ever passes through Richmond again and forgives me for this review.

BONUS VIDEO: Tony recently stopped by to cook with Mario Batali on The Chew. They made Budae Jjigae, a Korean SPAM stew (page 58).

BONUS PLUS: Michael Brendan Dougherty in The Week had an interesting take on Appetites, comparing it to Alton Brown’s new book, Everyday Cook, as spiritual autobiographies.


Coping with the Trump Transition

November 16, 2016

By Karen

My depression hit rock-bottom last Sunday over Donald Trump’s dominance in the Electoral College. You’ll never hear me say Trump “won” this election because he didn’t. Trump lost the actual vote by 797,724 as of Nov. 15, according to Politico.

To restore my sanity, I’ve made some temporary changes in how I receive news because the thought of Trump holding the reins of this country makes me want to vomit.

I skipped the 60 Minutes interview. The few snippets I couldn’t evade indicated that Trump’s already backpedaling on the wall, deportation, and eliminating Obamacare. I hope his worshippers are keeping score.

I’ve temporarily stopped watching MSNBC. I don’t need Rachel Maddow or Lawrence O’Donnell’s speculations because Trump is telling the media NOTHING. Since Trump and most of his hangers-on have no idea what they’re doing, their course can change from minute to minute. Waiting until things are in place saves some churning.

I’ve stopped watching morning news shows. I only read the newspaper — on paper, not online. Trump’s machinations are easier to handle in print, where I don’t have to hear his voice spewing out of his pink blowhole, nor see his saggy orange face.

Photo - CNBC

Photo – CNBC

I commend Ben Carson for turning down Trump’s offer to become secretary of health and human services or education because he “has no experience running a federal bureaucracy.” I wonder what the hell Carson thought being president entailed, if not presiding over the WHOLE federal bureaucracy?

For now, it’s enough to be outraged that Steve Bannon has become Trump’s Machiavelli. We now know Trump intends to have a grubby, bottom-feeding, hate-mongering racist constantly whispering in his ear. Let’s hope bipartisan outrage makes Trump rethink that decision.

As for the rest of it, I’m waiting to see where the chips fall. Chris Christie seems to be toast. Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich will probably snag positions at their highest levels of incompetence, where they can soon disgrace and embarrass Trump into saying, “You’re fired!”

Trump still clings to Twitter as his best means of communication. By not cooperating with journalists in the least, he’s creating a vacuum they will fill, and it won’t be to Trump’s glory. Meanwhile, the public will grow more fearful and angry with nothing to go on but Trump tweeting lies, empty promises, flip-flops, and attacks on anyone who has ever crossed him.

My most fervent hope at this point is that Inauguration Day is gale-force windy. While Trump is taking the oath of office, may an icy blast blow that orange ferret off his head, letting the whole world see the reality of the vain, arrogant, ignorant buffoon a majority of voters DID NOT choose to be our leader.


Donald Trump’s To-Do List

November 11, 2016

By Max

Right out of the gate, Donald Trump has set a “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” tone for his administration by insisting that his job applicants disclose all their financial dirt while he continues refusing to reveal his own. But there’s way more on his plate if he hopes to make good on all he’s promised. So, instead of composing nasty tweets when he can’t sleep, he’d do better to work on his to-do list…

  • Day 1: Start construction on the “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful wall”
  • Repeal Obamacare — replace w/ “something terrific”
  • Launch investigation to convict & jail Hillary Clinton
  • Send roses to FBI Director James Comey — owe him one
  • Invite Vladmir Putin to tea
  • Tear up trade agreements, incl. NAFTA
  • Withdraw from TPP
  • Hire deportation force to kick out 11 million immigrants — humanely
  • Inspect all mosques — MUST be hiding something
  • Ban Muslims from entering country — terrorists
  • Suspend Syrian refugee program — mooches
  • Order more Stop & Frisk — profiling prevents crime
  • Get torture gear out of storage — need child sizes for terrorists’ families
  • Eliminate crime — shows my concern for everybody
  • Sue New York Times
  • Sue all women I never groped
  • Clone Antonin Scalia at least 2X — 3X just in case
  • Fire & replace most of the generals
  • Bomb ISIS, seize the oil
  • Bring back all manufacturing jobs
  • Place hiring freeze on all federal employees — except ones I’m hiring
  • Revive coal industry — black gold!!!
  • Cancel Paris climate agreement — who needs polar bears
  • Cancel every executive order Obama ever signed — disaster!
  • Cut off payments to UN global warming programs — winter’s coming
  • Pass biggest tax cut since Reagan — wealthy deserve YUGE break
  • Pass amendment for congressional term limits — get rid of bums who didn’t endorse me

But all work and no play will soon exhaust Trump’s tiny attention span, so let’s add in some spice…

  • Defund Planned Parenthood
  • Repeal same-sex marriage
  • Grab a bunch of pussies

Women should line up for that last one, since Trump’s now so much more than a tacky reality-show star.


Does Trump Already Consider Quitting an Option?

November 10, 2016

By Karen

When I first heard it, I was stunned. Now I’m shocked the media hasn’t noted something Trump revealed near the end of his acceptance speech.

He apparently thinks he has an option to throw in the towel if the presidency proves too tough for him. He drops the clue at 15:50…

Here’s the transcript…

“I look very much forward to being your president, and hopefully, at the end of two years or three years or four years, or maybe even eight years, you will say, so many of you worked so hard for us, but you will say that, you will say that that was something that you were really very proud to do.”

His muddled use of pronouns renders the thought nonsensical, but why those time frames? Why wouldn’t a such a relentless braggart say, “After my first hundred days,” or, “After my first year in office”?

It seems clear to me that he’s implying he may consider the job a fait accompli by mid-term. We can only hope.

(Don’t you love how his son Barron, in white tie to Trump’s left, can’t conceal utter boredom throughout the whole speech? Poor kid’s life is about to be thrown into chaos, and they’re forcing him to stay up all night and watch Daddy give his 1,987,999th speech.)

Trump’s ties to Russia throughout his campaign are coming to light, thanks to the Russians themselves.

And as Trump’s unseemly associations continue to be laid barer than Melania at a photo shoot, by Inauguration Day his administration should be ass-deep in alligators in an Oval Office swamp of his making. Trump will soon learn that while a candidate may successfully hide some of his dirt (think income taxes, immigration records), the White House is a glass house.


U.S. Elects its First Dictator

November 9, 2016

By Karen

They’re calling it the American Brexit.

Donald Trump is president-elect and it’s official: ignorance, hatred, and bigotry are the fuel that runs the United States.

And don’t forget deceit. To people who listened to Trump’s year of verbal diarrhea and thought it sounded great, yet lied to pollsters because they were ashamed to admit it, I say, just wait. Your payback is coming. Very soon.

You can’t hand a demented monster absolute power, shored up by BOTH houses of Congress, and expect rainbows and roses.

Trump managed to deliver a coherent, moderately dignified, and inclusive acceptance speech, but we can count the days before he reverts to type. He’s never been able to sustain sanity.

In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gloats and announces today that he was being sarcastic.

For a first lady, we’ve got a piece of Slovenian arm candy whose website misrepresented her level of education. In researching her immigration history (which Trump promised to provide but never did), the AP uncovered that she earned $20,000 in seven weeks, modeling in the U.S. before she was legally allowed to. She stole jobs from American models.

Melania announced that her focus will be cyber-bullying. Let’s hope she starts by closing her husband’s Twitter account.

What’s most galling about this revolting development is that Hillary may have won the popular vote.

After Trump has repeatedly bashed Mexicans and all Hispanics, Muslims, blacks, the military, women, and many others, you have to be a real fool to believe he’ll work in anyone’s best interests but his own.

One election won’t turn a profane, ignorant, narcissistic buffoon into a statesman overnight.

I’m going to go curl into a fetal position and cry now. This feels so much more ominous than the Bush-Cheney victories. Sure, that pair started wars, but they had some experience governing and didn’t go around pissing in everybody’s face with personal insults while they did it.


What’s in a Name? Trump Defies Description

November 7, 2016

By Adele

Since we finally see the light at the end of this election tunnel and it may NOT be the Trump Trainwreck coming, I’m sharing my collection of ways people have tried to capture the putrid essence of Donald Trump.

We’ve got all paws crossed that the only name appropriate for Trump on November 9 is…

Biggest. Loser. Ever. YUGE! Unbelievable!

He’s also been called…

National disgrace and an international pariah. —Colin Powell

Two-bit racist arsonist. —Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

Unwitting agent of the Russian Federation. —Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)

Willful and abusive braggart. —General Barry McCaffrey (Ret.)

Dishonest demagogue with an authoritarian character. —Meg Whitman (Hewlett-Packard CEO)

Slick-talking, empty-promising, self-promoting, one-man wrecking crew. —Senator Tim Kaine (Hillary’s running mate)

A black soul. —Khizr Khan (father of slain Muslim U.S. Army Captain)

A cheddar-faced crypto fascist. —Scott Feschuk (Canadian columnist)

Rear Adm. John Hutson (Ret.):

  • Walking, talking recruiting poster for terrorists
  • Not fit to polish John McCain’s boots

Elizabeth Warren:

  • A man with a dark and ugly soul
  • Loud, nasty, thin-skinned fraud
  • Thin-skinned racist bully
  • Large orange elephant in the room

Howard Dean:

  • An ignoramus who doesn’t pay his taxes
  • A hate-monger and a fool

Leonard Pitts:

  • Overgrown frat boy trying to masquerade as a statesman
  • Flaming oil spill of a human being
  • Has epic coarseness, brazen mendacity, appalling ignorance, enormous narcissism and utter incompetence

Charles Krauthammer:

  • Boasting, bullying, bombastic, insulting, insensitive
  • An infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied

Lawrence O’Donnell:

  • The most vile creature in the history of presidential campaigning
  • A sociopathic liar
  • Most ignorant and mentally unstable candidate in history

Bill Maher:

  • The tangerine nightmare
  • Whiny little bitch
  • Doing to politics what Bialystock and Bloom in The Producers did to Broadway. Purposely trying to have a flop so he could bilk the investors.

Samantha Bee:

  • A two-bit used hate salesman
  • A dick-waving Berlusconi knockoff
  • A Garfield-colored ignoramus
  • Lecherous lump of earwax
  • Tangerine Caligula
  • Sociopathic 70-year-old toddler
  • Bigoted alleged billionaire
  • Agent Orange
  • America’s burst appendix
  • Least qualified candidate ever to lurch into the public spotlight and shit on Gold Star moms while cradling Putin’s sweaty sack

Stephen Colbert:

  • Screaming cantaloupe (said by cartoon Hillary to Colbert during interview)
  • Big orange coward
  • Angry Creamsicle

Trevor Noah:

  • Racist clementine
  • Traffic cone soaked in raw sewage
  • Cinnamon Hitler
  • Scrubby side of the sponge

Larry Wilmore:

  • Citrus-hued vomit bladder
  • Mango Mussolini

John Oliver:

  • Racist voodoo doll made of discarded cat hair
  • Two-bit bullshit artist conning America to help himself
  • Damaged sociopathic narcissist
  • Used condom filled with orange Gatorade
  • Used diaphragm from the Jersey Shore
  • Sriracha baboon anus

Deranged, narcissistic Oompa-Loompa. —Jordan Klepper (Daily Show reporter)

Don’t forget to vote tomorrow. Your kitties are depending on you to do the right thing.


Do We Need to Read EVERY Hillary Email?

November 2, 2016

By Adele

Emboldened by FBI Director James Comey announcing he found 650,000 emails that may or may not relate to Hillary Clinton on, of all places, pervert Anthony Weiner’s laptop, Trump supporter Wayne Allyn Root boldly wished for Hillary and Huma Abedin to die in a car crash like Thelma & Louise. Here’s Root’s outrageous warm-up act for Trump in Las Vegas…

And Trump crept up in the polls again. How on EARTH does Hillary’s email make him any less a paranoid, delusional, ignorant racist?

Trump, in the last week of his national fact-free “Projection 180 Tour,” proclaimed, “We can be sure that what is in those emails is absolutely devastating,” and, “This is bigger than Watergate, in my opinion.”

Talk about comparing apples to aardvarks.

I say it’s projection because Trump knows he’s hiding the “absolutely devastating” stuff in his own taxes. He shoots his mouth off with the assurance that Comey can’t touch those.

Then Trump bizarrely projected that Clinton is a “terrible example” for Trump’s 10-year-old son Baron.

(Baron? Why did Trump shoot so low on that? Why isn’t the kid called Duke, Earl, or even Prince?)

If Baron needs a role model, he just has to look at Dad to see a cheater, groper, tax evader, disreputable businessman, con artist, liar, and all-round ignoramus. Dad’s the whole package.

Everybody’s still wondering why Comey decided to throw shade on Hillary now, without having a single fact to present.

What I wonder is why the FBI stopped at Weiner’s PC. Why don’t they just seize EVERYBODY’S email and read until they can find anything, anywhere, to indict Hillary on something?

That’s what this witch hunt has been about all along. Sure, Hillary’s staff talked a lot of smack, but no threat to national security ever came of any of it.

As for the WikiLeaks email dumps, who knows what’s real?

But no matter what the FBI finds, no minds will change. Anyone who didn’t know who they were voting for before this week is probably too stupid to find their polling place anyway.

And while we’re making comparisons, I’ll stick with Trump and Hitler. On Election Day, as the big screen TVs flashing the election results of doom close in on Trump, maybe he’ll think about what Hitler did when it became clear he was the world’s biggest loser and there was no escaping it.

As Trump himself said when he dog-whistled for some gun nut to kill Hillary, that would be a “horrible day.”

BONUS: Here’s John’s Oliver’s hilarious take on the email connection to Weiner.


%d bloggers like this: