Book Review: Medium Raw – Anthony Bourdain [TSS]

Title: Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
Author: Anthony Bourdain
ISBN: 9780061718946
Pages: 304
Release Date: June 8, 2010
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir, Audiobook
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Summary:

Medium Raw is a collection of Anthony Bourdain’s thoughts on disparate subjects such as the New York food industry, working for The Food Network, and his fellow chefs. 

Review:

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain (needless to say, it’s one-sided.  Clearly Tony Bourdain has no idea who I am.)  I think he’s smart, funny, and incredibly entertaining.  But on the other hand, he can be really mean and unpleasant, and has a tendency to insult things I like, such as The Food Network.  Therefore, I approached his latest book, Medium Raw, with some trepidation – I was excited to read it, yet I hoped he had toned down the sarcasm and general meanness.

Luckily, that turned out to be the case.  Medium Raw is not the Anthony Bourdain of Kitchen Confidential, but a wiser, gentler, somewhat chastened Anthony Bourdain.  Don’t get me wrong – he still rants, going so far as to have a chapter about “heroes” and “villains” in the food industry (and let me tell you, he is not nice about the villains!)  I appreciated that he discusses some of his prejudices and dislikes, and while I don’t necessarily agree with them, at least I know where he’s coming from now. 

This book deals with incredibly varied topics, from Bourdain’s overseas eating adventures to the effects of the economic downturn on the New York food scene.  And I have to say, I found most of the book fascinating.  While I do enjoy food, I’m not much of a foodie.  I don’t know a lot about the hippest restaurants in New York or the best chefs.  But despite that, I didn’t get bored when Bourdain focused on David Chang for an entire chapter.  Bourdain’s insights are always interesting and his commentary has a lot of merit.  And if that weren’t enough, he’s really funny.  He’s completely honest and self-deprecating, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I chose to listen to Medium Raw in audio rather than reading it in print, and I’m so glad I did!  It’s narrated by Bourdain himself, and the way he does it, it makes it seem like he’s right next to you, giving you his personal commentary on chefs, restaurants, and food.  He did an incredible job with the narration; I can’t say enough good things about it.  The audio production runs around 9 hours long and is unabridged.

I thoroughly enjoyed Medium Raw and highly recommend it to anyone who’s a foodie or interested in being one.  I didn’t agree with all of his opinions, but I very much enjoyed listening to them and absorbing what Anthony Bourdain had to say.

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Comments

  1. I’m hoping that because I loved Kitchen Confidential that I will really love this one. I know what you mean about the love-hate relationship, but I tend more toward the love side. He’s a really good writer and I’m glad to see that he’s a good narrator as well.

  2. I’m hoping that because I loved Kitchen Confidential that I will really love this one. I know what you mean about the love-hate relationship, but I tend more toward the love side. He’s a really good writer and I’m glad to see that he’s a good narrator as well.

  3. Another audio book to add to my list. I also find that I can listen to books I’d normally find a bit too long or slow.

    My Sunday Salon

  4. Another audio book to add to my list. I also find that I can listen to books I’d normally find a bit too long or slow.

    My Sunday Salon

  5. My husband loves Anthony Bourdain. I wince everytime that I hear the long whine in the opening music. He is not too kind when talking about vegetarians. I do watch his shows though. I was afraid to sing up for Kitchen Confidental when it was up for contests but I am very glad to her that Medium Raw is kinder and gentler. Maybe his kid is mellowing him out!

    Carol Wong

  6. My husband loves Anthony Bourdain. I wince everytime that I hear the long whine in the opening music. He is not too kind when talking about vegetarians. I do watch his shows though. I was afraid to sing up for Kitchen Confidental when it was up for contests but I am very glad to her that Medium Raw is kinder and gentler. Maybe his kid is mellowing him out!

    Carol Wong

  7. Whenever I see him, I always find him interesting, and I can imagine him being a pretty interesting narrator. I might have to check this one out.

  8. Whenever I see him, I always find him interesting, and I can imagine him being a pretty interesting narrator. I might have to check this one out.

  9. I’m so glad you liked this one — I’m hoping it’s in my Christmas stocking!

  10. I’m so glad you liked this one — I’m hoping it’s in my Christmas stocking!

  11. I, too, have conflicting feelings for Anthony Bourdain, and while I think he can give his opinions and facts very enticingly, he is just a bit mean sometimes. I do think I would like this book though, as it seems he is starting to tone it down a bit. Great review, I will be looking for it!

  12. I, too, have conflicting feelings for Anthony Bourdain, and while I think he can give his opinions and facts very enticingly, he is just a bit mean sometimes. I do think I would like this book though, as it seems he is starting to tone it down a bit. Great review, I will be looking for it!

  13. I am adding this one to my audio wish list. I think it sounds entertaining!

  14. I am adding this one to my audio wish list. I think it sounds entertaining!

  15. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

  16. Thanks for an idea, you sparked at thought from a angle I hadn’t given thoguht to yet. Now lets see if I can do something with it.

  17. My sister’s boyfriend has a total man crush on Anthony Bourdain, so I’m thinking I see a Christmas gift in his future! He’s not much of a reader, but he does have a long commute… an audio book would be just the thing. 🙂 Yay! Thanks!

  18. My sister’s boyfriend has a total man crush on Anthony Bourdain, so I’m thinking I see a Christmas gift in his future! He’s not much of a reader, but he does have a long commute… an audio book would be just the thing. 🙂 Yay! Thanks!

  19. I love listening to funny books on the way to work and this one sounds like just the ticket-thanks for the great review. I think I would enjoy this one.

  20. I love listening to funny books on the way to work and this one sounds like just the ticket-thanks for the great review. I think I would enjoy this one.

  21. I loved Kitchen Confidential and I’ve been looking forward to this one. A kinder, gentler Bourdain would be appreciated by me. I do have to say that I like the gossipy side of his books, you know, the behind-the-scenes kind of thing. Glad to hear it’s good in audio.

  22. I loved Kitchen Confidential and I’ve been looking forward to this one. A kinder, gentler Bourdain would be appreciated by me. I do have to say that I like the gossipy side of his books, you know, the behind-the-scenes kind of thing. Glad to hear it’s good in audio.

  23. Glad to hear you liked it. It’s on my TBR pile, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I bet the audio is really the way to go!

  24. Glad to hear you liked it. It’s on my TBR pile, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. I bet the audio is really the way to go!

  25. Awesome review! I agreed with just about everything you said, except I didn’t love the entire book. I had to skip some chapters because I found them so boring. However, I read the book rather than listened to it. I have a feeling if I listened to Bourdain himself narrate that I wouldn’t have skipped any chapters.

    I totally understand what you mean about him slamming Food Network all the time, because that used to bug the heck out of me, but after reading the first chapter of this book, I can now start to understand his prejudice. His bitterness toward them is not without merit – he had a bad experience and his sour grapes are a tad bit justified.

  26. Awesome review! I agreed with just about everything you said, except I didn’t love the entire book. I had to skip some chapters because I found them so boring. However, I read the book rather than listened to it. I have a feeling if I listened to Bourdain himself narrate that I wouldn’t have skipped any chapters.

    I totally understand what you mean about him slamming Food Network all the time, because that used to bug the heck out of me, but after reading the first chapter of this book, I can now start to understand his prejudice. His bitterness toward them is not without merit – he had a bad experience and his sour grapes are a tad bit justified.

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