Medium Raw

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 June, 2010, 12:00am

Medium Raw
by Anthony Bourdain
Bloomsbury HK$208

It's been 10 years since his expose of the restaurant business, but Anthony Bourdain is still, as he puts it, 'just a cranky old f*** with ... issues'. In Medium Raw, which tells his story since Kitchen Confidential, he appears more mellow when it comes to family life (his daughter was born in 2007), but the wild man remains his preferred public persona. Although he says he no longer takes drugs (despite attempts by fans to slip him bags of white powder), he's now addicted to fame: he writes with a sometimes annoying sense of entitlement. More often than not, though, he deserves applause, such as when he cites heroes and villains and gives reasons why: Alain Ducasse is a villain, Bourdain writes, because he 'brought down fine dining ... with his absurdly pretentious restaurant'. US food giant Cargill also takes a beating, for producing low-end hamburger 'meat' from scraps treated in ammonia to kill potential contaminants. And what he calls Alan Richman, a food critic, cannot be printed in a family newspaper. Bourdain is best, however, when he writes about food. That goes for everything from cheap Vietnamese pho to sinful ortolan.