It was good to spend some time with Anthony Bourdain. I’m a big fan of No Reservations, and thought that Kitchen Confidential was brilliant and wildly entertaining. Medium Raw, a sort of follow up on what’s been happening in Bourdain’s life since the start of No Reservations, is a mixed bag of memoir, food commentary, and social commentary. It’s clear from reading that Bourdain has mellowed from the angry, angry man he was when he wrote Kitchen Confidential–but not so much that this book isn’t peppered with bile, obscenities, and rants. There just aren’t as many of them as there were in Confidential.
Success and happiness have started to file away Bourdain’s sharp edges. In this book, you get a peek at his life with his new wife and daughter. (One of my favorite parts of this book was the chapter describing how he and his wife are using hilarious psy ops on their daughter to get her to fear McDonald’s and fast food.) He’s less harsh than he used to be about Food Network favorite Rachel Ray, though Sandra Lee is still scary. I like the new Bourdain. While I read Kitchen Confidential, I kind of wanted to suggest that Bourdain get some anger management or even just a good cuddle to calm him down. The new Bourdain seems like he’d be a lot more fun to hang out with, and less likely to hurl a chair through a window or something.
This isn’t an earth-shatteringly good book. It tends to meander in places, and lacks focus. But, like I said, it was fun to spend some more time with Boudain. If you’re a fan, you’ll want to pick this book up. If you’re not a fan, run–don’t walk–to see a few episodes of No Reservations. If you haven’t already read Kitchen Confidential, what the hell are you waiting for? Once you become a fan–and you will–then I’d recommend this book.