Full disclosure: I got the book for free (Thanks Eric!)
I love Anthony Bourdain. I think he is a very lucid observer of the food and restaurant world, although he does have many biases (none that he hides really.) Kitchen Confidential was a funny, informative and incredibly entertaining book. The same can be said about A Cook’s Tour. Even though you can, and probably will, call bullshit on him on more than one occasion, in any of his books, the reality is that I always finish his books with a huge smile on my face.
The Nasty Bits, just like Kitchen Confidential, is a somewhat disjointed collection of writings that makes use of most of Bourdain’s talents. From commentaries about the state of fine dining to an acerbic critique of the James Beard Foundation through the joys of world travel and the love of his fellow cooks, Bourdain covers a lot of ground. The whole thing is a bit of a mess but each of those articles make for an entertaining read, once again.
Bourdain has the gift of being himself, of enticing curiosity and of spectacular description all at the same time, something that you rarely see in food writing. When Bourdain loves, he loves with passion. When he loathes, he loathes with passion. Like the ex-junkie that he is, there are no half-measures both in his writing and with his persona. That brings two different results: he goes way overboard and is funny as all hell or he goes way overboard and you just call bullshit on his shenanigans, both results are equally fun for me to read. Much like Hunter Thompson, that he rips off lovingly in this book, Bourdain brings the whole food world to a new level of consciousness that you never thought he had at first. Nasty Bits is like Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, the Food version.
Tunes: With Bourdain’s fondness for old school punk I have no other choice but to recommend The Germs’ (MIA): The Complete Anthology for the finest in L.A. Punk with Darby Crash at the helm and Pat Smear anchoring the rhythm section, great stuff. Since I am a little younger than Mr Bourdain, I would personally would have gone with Black Flag, Damaged. Damaged is quite possibly my favorite hardcore record of all time and makes you forget what became of Henry Rollins afterwards (see: Johnny Mnemonic.)