Last year I read, for the first time, a book by Anthony Bourdain. It was Kitchen Confidential (my review is here) and I really liked Bourdain’s style of writing. So when I saw his No Reservations at the book store, I bought it without even opening the cover. Mostly, I liked the subtitle – Around the World On An Empty Stomach.
Once I opened the cover I discovered it was exactly what I thought it would be – a food lover’s tour of the world. What I realized when I started reading, is that this book is based on the TV show, starring Anthony Bourdain, called, you guessed it, No Reservations. It’s an ongoing show on the Travel Channel and on the Discovery Travel & Living channel worldwide.
Although I have never seen the show, from reading the book I have a good idea what it’s about. Mr. Bourdain travels to various countries around the globe and asks to eat the food that local people eat. Here’s what her says:
To the extent of our abilities, this is what the show is all about: a head-first full immersion in someplace that isn’t very much like home,. No Starbucks, no cash machines, no stage-managed “real-life encounters” — just an honest and direct recording of the way life is lived in the rest of the world.
The show is currently in it’s sixth season. As Mr. Bourdain and his film crew were traveling the world, various crew members were also taking snapshots. Those pictures make up this book. Every page is filled with them. They’re gorgeous, colorful, professional and give me the feel of being right there.
This is not a book filled with words but the words that are there are pure Anthony Bourdain. His writing sounds exactly like I think he talks. He says what he’s thinking, often with profanity. I don’t mind it because he has such a passion for good food that he finds in unusual places. I want to give you a sample of his writing. Bourdain’s section on Asia is the biggest in the book because of his beliefs about Chinese food.
Deep inside every great cook . . . anyone who knows what the good stuff is and what to do with it — lurks the heart and soul of a Chinese guy. There are no “good” and “bad” ingredients in China. . . Chinese cooks and chefs are used to preparing food for customers who know what the f__ they’re eating; what’s good, where it’s good, and when it’s good. Next to them we know nothing about food.
If you are a fan of Anthony Bourdain, you’ll really like this book. My hunch is that this book sits on lots of coffee tables because of the beautiful pictures. And then it gets talked about because of Bourdain’s strong opinions. I suggest you give it a try.
Check your local library for a copy. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach is available at Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)
By Anthony Bourdain, Bloomsbury, 2007, May Rating: A