Bloomsbury, Rs. 599
If you are a vegetarian animal lover, your introduction to taste Bourdain's Medium Raw is painful, but that's why you want to sort of devour masochistically. Why? It starts like a suspense novel, where the greatest chefs of America gather, shrouded, to eat an illegal meal of orlaton : sublime dribbles of varied and wondrous ancient flavours- figs, Armagnac, dark flesh slightly infused with the salty taste of ( the author's )own blood.(The hunting of the orlaton bird is banned.)
The thrill of all this exquisiteness wears off when you find Bourdain in the Caribbean
with his vulgarly rich drug addict girlfriend. A lot of personal mean rants-more appropriate as facebook statuses of exhibitionists. A pinch or two of gyan on spaghetti and we're done.
Thankfully, Bourdain the man of culinary excess, gastronomic bizarreness returns. In this sequel to much loved Kitchen Confidential, he's over heroin, has wandered the Caribbean and remarried. The world has changed personally and in culinary terms. Food to Bourdain alternates between unconditional love and raw sex, enlightenment and nirvana. Describing pho (Vietnamese noodles) as more like love than sex will be more appropriate…Sometimes I think I should feel guilty about writing stuff like the above. It's porn. Albeit food and travel porn. Apparently his parents taught him not to show off.
We assure you he slips and mostly we are glad he does. One day he is eating from the Taco lady in Puebla and on another he is gorging on roast goose in Hong Kong and then living it up in Paris with pearls of tapioca with oysters and caviar, you know.
Food of every imaginable kind remains his passion, not the show around it, just what's on the plate. In an interview to First City in December 2008, he said "Context is so important to the perfect meal. I think a Bombay Burger (Vada Pao) is just as likely to be a perfect meal as a meal at the best restaurant in Paris."
You learn that the recession made foodies of the world more equal. CEOs didn't want to be seen dining openly at fancy restaurants. Tables were suddenly freed for those who deemed it unthinkable to dine at a Masa or something equally intimidating. So, he is being analytical about the world that has changed since Kitchen Confidential, about how food is the new music for the young, on a quest for exceptional box sized eating joints in downtowns across the world. He is being weird in a fun way. He meanders too, sometimes too much. But it's Bourdain. We sort of forgive him.
First City Magazine, July 2010.