by Anthony Bourdain
Just as it pleased me that my Dad gave me copies of this book and Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto in the same parcel, it also pleased me to read them one after the other. Aside from the titles, I’d say they have zero in common, but I very much enjoyed both books.
The book that made Bourdain famous is a highly entertaining memoir about his career in the restaurant business, from washing up as a summer job, to being a head chef far too young to maintain his success, to having drug problems and clawing his way back up to the top job.
This isn’t a straightforward memoir. Essays on various aspects of working in a busy kitchen are interspersed between recollections of specific periods in Bourdain’s life. He starts with his childhood discovery of really good food on a summer trip to France. After recounting his training and career, he skips to an essay titled “Who cooks?”, which describes general and specific traits of kitchen staff. And it’s not a pretty portrait.