Book Review: No Reservations: Around the World On An Empty Stomach

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

Talking about food is a regular feature on my blog and others as well. I’m posting this a day early because of tomorrow’s Read-A-Thon.  On Saturday be sure to visit Beth Fish Reads for other bloggers who are participating in Weekend Cooking.
This entry was posted in 100+ Book Challenge, A Book, Book Challenges, Books, Books About Food, Food Talk, Weekend Cooking. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Book Review: No Reservations: Around the World On An Empty Stomach

  1. Molly says:

    I have heard of this television show, but I have never watched it. Apparently I have had a false opinion of what it is all about. I expected the show to focus on the rather “bizarre” foods eaten all over the world (like raw insects and that kind of thing). After reading your review I will definitely check out the book and the show. Thanks for setting me straight 🙂

  2. JoAnn says:

    I loved Kitchen Confidential. Listening to the audio read by the author was perfect! I’ll check my library for this one. Thanks, Margot.

  3. You are really becoming a specialist on books about food!

  4. You need to see the show – my husband loves it. I’m amazed at the stuff that man will eat. I bet the book is great too.

  5. Barbara says:

    I’m not a fan of Tony’s show but maybe his attitude and language wouldn’t bother me in a book. I’ll have to check it out at the library.

  6. caite says:

    Oh, I love the show and he is quiet a character. I must read this one.

  7. I’ve watched his show a few times and love his intensity!!! Sounds like an excellent companion to the show!

  8. Used to enjoy the show once in a while; enjoyed his upfront personality and the travel part as much as the food — just kind of forgot about the show lately (we don’t have our “Dish” anymore so it’s harder to check what’s on on nights when we want to veg out. Anyway, I’ll have to check out the library for both of those books.

  9. Belle says:

    I mistakenly bought a season of No Reservations one year for Ward (I had Bourdain confused with Gordon Ramsay, not sure why!), but we enjoyed the shows. The book sounds like a very interesting read – of course, I love the Chinese food quote 🙂

  10. Miss K says:

    I’m one of your cheerleaders and wanted to be the first to wish you good luck!

  11. Beth F says:

    I loved Kitchen Confidential, which I read years ago — and instantly became a fan. I have been hesitant to read this book because I was unsure how the TV show would translate into a book. You have convinced me to buy it! Thanks.

  12. Ti says:

    I love Tony!! He is speaking at UCLA soon but I’m not sure I want to pay to hear him speak. The ticket prices were rather steep. I love his show and his sense of humor. I’ve read Kitchen Confidential but none of his novels.

  13. jill says:

    I loved Kitchen Confidential, so I need to check this one out. He’s a character…I’ve never seen his show, but he’s a frequent judge on Top Chef, and I love it when he visits…brutally honest and colorful!

  14. Dreamybee says:

    I just wanted to stop by and thank you for cheerleading, but then I saw this post, and thought I would add a comment here as well. The quote you supplied sounds just like Anthony Bourdain’s on the television version of No Reservations. I’ve never read any of his books, but I suspect that if you like his writing, you’d like the show. I also suspect, judging from your description, that you would appreciate the look of the show. I flipped on the TV the other day and there was a shot of…somewhere-I don’t remember where-on the screen, and without any words or any music in the background I immediately thought, This must be No Reservations. The show just has a certain look to it that sets it apart from other travel or food shows.

    Aaaaaand all that was to say, Thanks for cheerleading! LOL!

  15. Dreamybee says:

    sorry “…sounds just like Anthony Bourdain’s *voice* on the television version…”

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