Book of the Week: Appetites – Anthony Bourdain

I’m a late-life cooking enthusiast and I always thought that I’d be a Cook’s Illustrated, left-brained kind of cook. But I find that Bourdain’s straight-talking, profane, behind-the-scenes voice is more for me. We all know there’s a difference between shitty tuna salad sandwich with tomato soup and a sublime version. Bourdain’s the guy to explain that difference. Ditto omelets, scrambled eggs, club sandwiches…. The man’s got opinions! For instance, here’s his page on home fries:

Home fries almost always suck….Hash browns are a better idea. But the best idea is no potatoes at all. In my view, a few well-toasted, heavily buttered slices of bread are the perfect accompaniment to an egg breakfast….They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Maybe.

“But the notion that you need a heaping gutload of eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and bread is grotesque. If you have a hard time tying your shoes after breakfast, or you feel like you really, really need a nap—and you only woke up an hour ago—there’s something wrong.”

Well, alright then. (And yes, that cover is by Ralph Steadman. And know you know why. This is a cookbook with attitude.)

While I’ve been enjoying Bourdain’s tips on many home cooking standards, I’ve also been taken by new ideas like roasted cauliflower with an amazing sauce. (Per Bourdain: “This shit is compulsively delicious.”) While I’ve been terrified by recipes involving, tripe, quail, boar and lots of duck fat, carnivores are sure to enjoy the adventure. In other words, there’s something for everyone–a great read and illustrated throughout.

A really impressive media lineup should help make this one of the books of the holiday season. Bourdain will be on NPR’s Fresh Air and there will be a feature in People. He’ll be on the cover of Costco Connection in a piece about the season’s biggest cookbooks. Other NPR coverage includes Morning Edition, Marketplace Weekend, The New Yorker Radio Hour and The Splendid Table. TV includes the Today show and The Chew. In print, USA Today will do a feature and as you might expect, the book will be covered in pretty much every food magazine.

[I]n what might be his most accessible book yet, Bourdain reveals his ‘Ina Garten–like need to feed the people around me’ with a terrific collection of recipes for family and friends. The blunt honesty, casual profanity, and caustic wit he’s known for are still here; much more of a real surprise is that he includes simple dishes such as scrambled eggs….Though he states that those looking for mind-blowing recipes will be better served elsewhere, readers will quickly appreciate his spot-on seasoning and ingredients in crowd-pleasing dishes such as ‘Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce’….The Korean fried chicken; duck rillettes; and calf’s liver with bacon, leeks, apples, and calvados are sure to expand palates and blow minds, and fans will appreciate his short but pointed essays on diverse topics.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Bourdain is back with his inimitable voice—funny, foul-mouthed, and unapologetically opinionated—in this tightly curated collection of recipes…Readers will be rewarded with excellent tips and a great variety of recipes, from familiar to exotic, with international flair.… [A] wild ride of a cookbook that should be on every library’s food shelves.”
Booklist (starred review)

Appetites: A Cookbook (9780062409959) by Anthony Bourdain, et al. $27.50 hardcover. 10/25/16 one day laydown.

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