Advance Peeks at Bourdain’s “Medium Raw”

By Karen

Naturally, Grub Street got its grubby hands on an advance copy of Anthony Bourdain’s new book, Medium Raw, and published a smorgasbord of snarky bits. Nasty backlash has already begun in an Esquire blog post by John Mariani.

Only the first chapter has crossed my path, and I had a comparatively generous reaction…

Bourdain starts off describing a dinner party that could be from one of his crime novels, at an anonymous restaurant with “some of the most respected chefs in America,” also unnamed. They’re served a dish that’s so illegal (and up there in grossness with warthog ass, in my opinion), they all eat with their napkins over their heads.

Then it gets good: Tony flashes back a few years to pre-Kitchen Confidential, slinging hash at a lunch counter, resentful and humiliated. He has nowhere to go but up. That’s the part that left me “hungry for more.”

Any day, I prefer Tony the working stiff to the gourmet hob-nobber — the writing feels truer — so I hope the book holds plenty more of that. And as a non-foodie, the evolution of Bourdain the writer/traveler interests me more than lengthy analyses of cuisine and the people who prepare or eat it.

I’ll be in Barnes & Noble on publication day, June 8, to get the rest of the story.

Tony’s publisher Ecco’s parent, HarperCollins, lists the top 10 signs you’re a Bourdain fanatic.

NBC Washington got a good-natured joint interview with Ripert and Tony before they appeared together in DC on May 21. Tony sees them as the Odd Couple. Ripert thinks they’re Laurel & Hardy. How about you? I’m seeing Martin & Lewis, without Jerry’s silly mugging.

That same night, thanks to a timely tweet from Ottavia, fans could catch Tony on Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN, where he talked about current events and deftly dismissed Sarah Palin as a serious contender for anything, right to Ted Nugent’s face.

The LA Times reported on Bourdain’s recent trip to Beirut to finish what he started. Tony shared with Newsweek his reaction to being nominated for an Emmy for the first Beirut episode.

On May 22, Bourdain and Ripert appeared in Baltimore, where some people are still apparently steamed over the NR episode he filmed there, according to the Baltimore Sun. The publication got a joint interview, as well.

Serious Eats asked readers for their opinions of Bourdain and got them. He certainly doesn’t seem to attract fence-sitters.

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10 Responses to Advance Peeks at Bourdain’s “Medium Raw”

  1. Wendy says:

    The Baltimore show was wonderful. I loved seeing Eric & Tony interact. Judging by the packed house, I think Baltimore still loves Tony.

  2. Imabear says:

    Holy moly! I googled “bourdain +anderson cooper” to see Tony’s comments and got a slew of blogs posted by angry white people slagging Tony for his teabagger stance. What vitriol! And they had the nerve to call him “hateful”?????? What a bunch of hypocritical idiots. Yet the truth goes right over their heads. Tony, be careful in those red states!

  3. catsworking says:

    Wendy, I was just watching Tony and Zamir in a rerun of the Baltimore episode last night! I’m so glad to hear that no tomatoes or eggs were thrown. Did either of them say anything we should know?

    I read in one of Eric’s interviews that he’s planning to do an Avec Eric episode next season in Virginia, and I’m hoping he finds something to eat that’s interesting enough to lure Tony here. I can’t imagine what that might be, myself.

  4. catsworking says:

    Imabear, I haven’t started delving into this week’s research yet, so you’re a step ahead of me. I’m kind of surprised by what you’re saying, since I thought he was remarkably restrained and polite with Anderson Cooper. But then again, we’re talking about Tea Party wackos. He’s got gigs coming up in Oklahoma, Utah, and Nebraska that should prove very interesting. Maybe he’ll invite Ripert to go along and ride shotgun!

  5. MorganLF says:

    Didn’t you think Tony was on point on the CNN Anderson Cooper show? I could not have phrased it better I love, love, love, it that the tea baggers have their drawers in a bunch!! I agree with Imabear… whoosh it went right over their tiny little brains.

    Barry Goldwater the de facto founder of modern conservatism must be spinning in his grave over the “base” that usurped his party.

    The current crypto-fundamental Christian no-nothing “Ditto head” cult that hijacked the Republicans and empower atrocities like Palin or Bachman are not only as stupid as a “bag full of hammers” they are dangerous.

    Ortolan reference: Many years ago I saw a television show about a group of portly gourmands that indulged in this “delicacy”. The reason they drape their heads in napkins is to cover the blood and bones that may squirt out.

    In the early 80’s when I was dining in NY at an elegant Italian restaurant in the Chelsea area with my date and another couple, I mentioned the show.

    The restaurant and the gentlemen were quite distinguished (read expensive) however; as the times dictated, before dinner we dropped a few Quaaludes and with the addition of some lovely wine were feeling quite festive. Naturally, we all decided to cover our heads with napkins while consuming our meal. I can still see my best friend, starched napkin draped over her long blond hair trying to navigate her fork to her mouth while we all conversed as if nothing was unusual. We were, presented with the check early.

    She is now a teacher of Honors Chemistry with a beautiful daughter in grad school at Columbia and we never cease to kill ourselves over our “Ortolan” meal.

  6. catsworking says:

    Morgan, what surprised me was that so many Tea Partiers apparently watch CNN. Fox must be upset.

    I didn’t find anything Tony said offensive in the least. Just goes to show what vastly different filters people have. I think just about every word that comes out of Sarah Palin’s mouth is incomprehensible babble, yet to her followers, she’s brilliant.

    Good Ortolan story! You make me feel that I have lived a very sheltered life.

  7. Adele says:

    Morgan, loved the ortolan story! Only twice in the 4 or 5 times I did quaaludes was I able to stay awake. Once was for a Springsteen concert, and as I recall, I was taking other pharmaceuticals to counteract the ‘ludes, and the other time was at a party. Mostly though, I just slept really hard. (so much for Vitamin Q’s reputation as a love drug)

    I thought AB was very good on Anderson Cooper,and as Ottavia said on Twitter, it was good to hear him talking about something other than food. He didn’t hide his political leanings, but he didn’t rant either — those teabaggers sure have thin skin.

  8. catsworking says:

    Man, where WAS I all those years? I never did any drugs, even when I was hanging out with people who did. My ex-husband occasionally smoked pot, but told me I wouldn’t like it because I wasn’t a smoker, and I was OK with that.

  9. MorganLF says:

    No reefer ever???? You must have been underwater.

  10. catsworking says:

    I did lead a very sheltered life, although I didn’t realize it at the time. I once dated a guy who was living with a couple who sold marajuana in bulk. They kept a whole double bed covered with tin foil where they’d lay all the pot out under sun lamps to give it better color, and then weigh it and bag it on an assembly line. Yet in the midst of all that, when everybody was smoking their own joint (yet still passing them around, why, I never could figure out), I didn’t join in. I was probably chugging Boone’s Farm Wild Mountain Grape.

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