Friday, March 30, 2012

Travel Essays for those who like to eat in "A Moveable Feast"



I happened to stumble on this new book of travel essays by Anthony Bourdain, Andrew Zimmern, Mark Kurlansky, and Don George.

As an ex-chef I have enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s previous two books even though you have to take his experiences in Kitchen Confidential with a grain of salt. In my experience quite a few things he railed against must be localized to the New York restaurant scene, and I never saw them occur in Montana, New Mexico or Alaska. I wouldn't say the owners or workers wouldn't have done some of the crazy business practices, but  the environment was simply different and we were doing other customer unfriendly things. In his second book on this theme 'Medium Raw', he addresses these issues, and points out that everything only really relates to the places he worked. I think all chefs who read the books realize this, and most chefs I knew praised Kitchen Confidential.
For example in 'Kitchen Confidential' he tells you what days of the week are no good to order seafood if you wanted it fresh. In Alaska especially this was pointless and inaccurate when we were ordering Salmon 7 days a week as needed and there was not a standard day for delivery, Saturday and Sunday we would try not to order though because of extra charges from the supplier. When you think about it then of course little things like this can't apply everywhere, but even in Alaska we would have customers disbelieve that the fish was delivered every 1 or 2 days.

His descriptions of the restaurant workers as under paid, over worked drug addicted freaks however was spot on. This is why I think most restaurant workers loved the book. Anthony was able to describe the daily pain and pleasure of the restaurant in a way that resonated most with those who have had to do it on a daily basis. There are many reasons I consider the days I worked as a chef some of the best times in any job I've experienced, but it's also hard to describe why a 16 hour shift standing over a stove could be anything but torture. Somehow though Anthony Bourdain has managed to succeed in writing about Chefs in particular, but also about the industry as a whole in a manner that is engaging and exciting.

I’ll be reading A Moveable Feast in a few days, and will post a review. I’d also like to point out that if you decide to buy any book linked on my site – please click the link to Amazon. You will pay the same price but I get a small percentage, and who doesn’t want me to get a small percentage?

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