Monday, February 09, 2009

Books: A Cook's Tour

My restaurant reviews do a generally poor job of describing the experience of eating. Enjoying a great meal with family and friends is one of the most sensuous activities you can engage in; the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes can stay with a person for a lifetime. Anthony Bourdain does a much better job of describing the sensory overload that can accompany food in his travelogue, titled "A Cook's Tour."

It's ostensibly about Bourdain's search for the perfect meal, but it's really a rambling tour around the planet, sampling some of the best food that the peoples of the world have to offer. And we're not talking about high-faluting Michelin Guide restaurants; Bourdain concentrates on food that regular people actually cook and eat. Your mouth will literally water as he describes watching a family dine on a whole pig in Portugal, for instance.

One section of the book hit home in a particular way - Bourdain's trip to Vietnam. You see, between Mom and my Grandma, and the numerous Vietnamese restaurants in Houston, I've eaten almost everything that Bourdain mentions in the chapter. I can personally attest to the intoxicating aroma that comes from the kitchen when you start scorching an onion for soup broth, or the way grilled pork on skewers tastes when it's fresh off the grill. If you aren't able to get my Mom to cook for you (she makes the best snail soup I have ever tasted, ever), then reading "A Cook's Tour" might be the next best thing.


At 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a secret raging crush on Bourdain. For reals.

(Kitchen Confidential is a mighty fine read, too. There's one particular bit about how he carried around nunchaku and a samurai sword in college, which he only ever used to cut down some wildflowers in a field to impress some girl, which delights me to no end. What can I say? I'm a sucker for the macho pirate talking aging punk rocker former lovestruck school boy thing.
And, oh, yeah. Chefs are cool, too. Food is important.
And Bourdain is probably the main reason I got over my self inflicted cooking guilt anguish thing. Well, that, and my reasons are sound...but Bourdain allows me to feel macho about the kitchen, also. Arrrr.)


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