Friday, April 2, 2010

Foodie Book Club: The Nasty Bits


I am taking part in (never home)maker's Foodie Book Club. The selection for the first month was The Nasty Bits By Anthony Bourdain. It is a collection of various essays and articles Bourdain has written. First of all, I'm going to admit I haven't finished the book, mostly because I've found myself unable to get into it. His writing is very raw and in-your-face and while I appreciate his personality and strong opinions, at times I felt like he was saying "THIS IS WHAT I THINK AND IF YOU DON'T AGREE, YOU ARE STUPID." I will also admit that while I am aware of Bourdain's existence, I have never seen his show or read anything by him before. Perhaps if I watched his show, his strong personality would be more endearing.

The two essays I found most interesting happen to be the same two that Ashley of (never home)maker mentioned in her review. "Are you a Crip or a Blood?" discusses the slow food movement, dividing the issue into two gangs: chefs who source their food from far off places without a second thought (the Crips), and the slow-food, Alice Waters-types (the Bloods). If you cannot tell, I am a Blood, 100 percent. I buy as much as my food as I can locally and support restaurants that do so as well. At first he calls himself a Blood, but then immediately states that he will purchase tomatoes from across the world that may have caused one person to develop cancer as long as they taste good, which to me is the absolute antithesis of the Bloods. As a chef, he wants to use the best ingredients he can find, which is understandable and I think there is a place for Crip-type restaurants, but I still prefer the Bloods.

I also really enjoyed his discussion of street food in other countries. In America, fast food is McDonald's or Taco Bell, food made with a million ingredients and chemicals and it is not. good. for. you. (And doesn't really taste good either). However, Bourdain points out that fast food in other countries is simple, flavorful, and made by an actual human right in front of you. I definitely wish that this type of fast food was more common here. I have seen pictures and read about the street food in Japan and China and South America and it makes me incredibly jealous that we are stuck with McNuggets when we want something quickly.

While I did find topics that interested me here and there in this book, overall it is not going on my favorites list. It focuses a lot more on the restaurant world, which is something I appreciate, but is not my main food interest. I love reading about personal relationships with food and home-cooking, which is why I am incredibly excited that next month's pick is Orangette's A Homemade Life. I have already read that book and am looking forward to going through it again because I have the biggest girl-crush on Molly Wizenburg and desperately want to be her best friend. Next month I promise a better review and a recipe to go with it!

If you want to join the Foodie Book Club, you can do so here:


  1. It took me quite awhile to warm up to Bourdain when we first started watching his show a few years ago. It's not a weekly thing on our house but every now and then we catch an episode- I find him quite endearing now. I just started reading a Homemade Life and am pretty excited to get into it. It reminds me a bit of Ruth Reichl with the recipes...I have a mad girl crush on Ruth.

  2. I just noticed you are in Minneapolis- any thoughts on the recent street vendor laws?


    So true. Very off-putting attitude, in my opinion.

    ps. I went to college in St. Cloud and I miss Minneapolis sometimes. It's a fun city!

  4. Miss Erin- Right after I wrote this post, I got in the car and heard about the street vendor laws on the Current. I'm excited to see street vendors downtown and am curious to see what types of foods will be available!

    Charlotte- I definitely love Minneapolis! I've been to St. Cloud a few times too, my friends bands' play at the Red Carpet pretty often. That place is crazy!

  5. Dude. So one of the perks about Temple is its lunchtruck scene. I guess they are one step up from street vendors because they have trucks instead of stalls, and they also don't move. The trucks are parallel parked pretty permanently on the streets; most of their drivers' seats are used for storage.

    ANYWAY you will be pleased to know that you can get everything from heart-attack cheesesteaks to Pho to crepes to sweet potato fries. It's really quite awesome, and apparently there is a pretty intense approval process that they have to go through. Totally worth it though. Why? Because there is a cookie truck. OM NOM NOM.

  6. I like him even less after reading this.

    I'm surprised to read some of those quotes because nothing he said in the essay I mentioned was that harsh!

  7. I just watched the video (I didn't see it at first since it didn't show up in my RSS feed) and he does explain a bit more and doesn't seem like as much of a prick as he does in some of the quotes they mention. However, I still don't think I'll ever be a big fan of his.