If there’s one point Anthony Bourdain sharply makes in his debut graphic novel, Get Jiro!, it’s this: Don’t disrespect a chef’s dish, lest he cut off your head with a samurai sword.
The writer, chef and TV personality says most of his peers confine their homicidal tendencies to a dark corner of their minds. Bourdain lets his dark fantasy loose through a strong and silent sushi chef named Jiro in Get Jiro!, the DC/Vertigo Comics book out Wednesday in comic shops and next Tuesday in bookstores.
Bourdain’s recipe for Get Jiro! includes Japanese samurai films, spaghetti Westerns and Dashiell Hammett-style hard-boiled crime fiction, with a few splashes of blood-soaked violence akin to the 1950s shock-horror comics he collected as a youngster.
The Nasty Bits:
Collected Varietal Cuts, Useable Trim, Scraps, and Bones
From Publishers Weekly:
In this typically bold effort, Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential), like the fine chef he is, pulls together an entertaining feast from the detritus of his years of cooking and traveling. Arranged around the basic tastes: salty, sweet, sour, bitter and umami (a Japanese term for a taste the defies description), this scattershot collection of anecdotes puts Bourdain’s brave palate, notorious sense of adventure and fine writing on display. From the horrifying opening passages, where he joins an Arctic family in devouring a freshly slaughtered seal, to a final work of fiction, the text may disappoint those who’ve come to expect more honed kitchen insights from the chef.
Surprisingly, though, the less substantive kitchen material Bourdain has to work from only showcases his talent for observation. This book isn’t for the effete foodies Bourdain clearly despises (though they’d do well to read it). He criticizes celebrity chefs, using Rocco DiSpirito as a “cautionary tale,” and commends restaurants that still serve stomach-turning if palate-pleasing dishes, such as New York’s Pierre au Tunnel (now closed), which offered tête de veau, essentially “calf’s face, rolled up and tied with its tongue and thymus gland.” Fans of Bourdain’s hunger for the edge will gleefully consume this never-boring book.
Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook:
Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking
From Publisher’s Weekly:
A celebrity with a high-profile position as executive chef at New York bistro Les Halles, and bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, Bourdain doesn’t intend to break new ground. The dishes do exactly as the subtitle notes and include such solid classic fare as Onion Soup Les Halles, Steak au Poivre, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin and Chocolate Mousse. Nearly all recipes are within reach of competent home cooks, and those that are more complicated or time-consuming—Bouillabaisse, Cassoulet and Roulade of Wild Pheasant—are thoroughly spelled out to calm most jitters. Foie gras, duck fat and dark veal stock are frequent components, but a list of suppliers makes just about every ingredient available.
Even though many of the dishes can be found in other cookbooks, what sets this one apart is Bourdain’s signature wise-ass attitude that pervades nearly every recipe, explanatory note and chapter introduction. Profanity adds frequent color. If Aunt Doris would blanche at pearl onions being called “little fuckers,” a cook who prefers boneless meat in Daube Provençal a “poor deluded bastard,” or a person nervous about making these recipes a “dipshit,” this book is not for her.
Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Available in hard and soft cover.
From Publishers Weekly:
Chef at New York’s Les Halles and author of Bone in the Throat, Bourdain pulls no punches in this memoir of his years in the restaurant business. His fast-lane personality and glee in recounting sophomoric kitchen pranks might be unbearable were it not for two things: Bourdain is as unsparingly acerbic with himself as he is with others, and he exhibits a sincere and profound love of good food. The latter was born on a family trip to France when young Bourdain tasted his first oyster, and his love has only grown since. He has attended culinary school, fallen prey to a drug habit and even established a restaurant in Tokyo, discovering along the way that the crazy, dirty, sometimes frightening world of the restaurant kitchen sustains him. Bourdain is no presentable TV version of a chef; he talks tough and dirty. His advice to aspiring chefs: “Show up at work on time six months in a row and we’ll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you: ‘Shut the fuck up.’ ” He disdains vegetarians, warns against ordering food well done and cautions that restaurant brunches are a crapshoot.
Gossipy chapters discuss the many restaurants where Bourdain has worked, while a single chapter on how to cook like a professional at home exhorts readers to buy a few simple gadgets, such as a metal ring for tall food. Most of the book, however, deals with Bourdain’s own maturation as a chef, and the culmination, a litany describing the many scars and oddities that he has developed on his hands, is surprisingly beautiful. He’d probably hate to hear it, but Bourdain has a tender side, and when it peeks through his rough exterior and the wall of four-letter words he constructs, it elevates this book to something more than blustery memoir.
A Cook’s Tour
Autographed Hard Cover not available at this time.
From Publishers Weekly:
Swashbuckling chef Anthony Bourdain, author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential (which famously warned restaurant-goers against ordering fish on Mondays), travels where few foodies have thought to travel before in search of the perfect meal: the Sputnik-era kitchen of a “less-than-diminutive” St. Petersburg matron, the provincial farmhouse of a Portuguese pig-slaughterer and the middle of the Moroccan desert, where he dines on “crispy, veiny” lamb testicles. Searching for the “perfect meal,” Bourdain writes with humor and intelligence, describing meals of boudin noir and Vietnamese hot vin lon (“essentially a soft-boiled duck embryo”) and ‘fessing up to a few nights of over-indulgence (“I felt like I’d awakened under a collapsed building,” he writes of a night in San Sebastian hopping from tapas bar to tapas bar).
Goat’s head soup, lemongrass tripe, and pork-blood cake all make appearances, as does less exotic fare, such as French fries and Mars bars (deep fried, but still). In between meals, Bourdain lets his readers in on the surprises and fears of a well-fed American voyaging to far-off, frugal places, where every part of an animal that can be eaten must be eaten, and the need to preserve food has fueled culinary innovation for centuries. He also reminds his audience of the connections between food and land and human toil, which, in these sterilized days of pre-wrapped sausages, is all too easy to forget.
A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook
From The Washington Post
Bourdain’s prose at his wildest can sound like Hunter S. Thompson’s, yet he can also produce much quieter work, such as “My Aim Is True,” a brilliant portrait of Justo Thomas, the man who fillets the fish for Le Bernardin, New York’s great seafood restaurant. A.J. Liebling couldn’t have done it better. Above all, when you read Bourdain, you never quite know what’s going to happen in the next sentence, but you can be sure you’re in for a treat, a shock, a surprise. Whatever Bourdain writes, he makes personal. In his most hilarious essay, he relates his ongoing campaign to poison his daughter’s mind against fast food by insinuating that Ronald McDonald has cooties. Other pages of “Medium Raw” might almost be called service pieces: an outline of the basic cooking skills that all young people should know, a plea that hamburger be made of real meat rather than trimmings and scraps soaked in ammonia, an elegy for small-course tasting menus as no longer fun or worth the time and money. Many people will doubtless appreciate “Medium Raw” even more than I do: I’ve never watched the Food Network, know how to cook only a small number of rather ho-hum dishes, and would hardly describe myself as a gourmet or foodie. No matter. Once we read Anthony Bourdain because of what he told us about restaurants and chefs, but now we read him simply because it’s Anthony Bourdain. Still, it does seem paradoxical that “Medium Raw” is more like a bag of potato chips than a fine dining experience: Anyone who starts the book is liable to lose all control and simply gobble it right up. I certainly did.