Ultimately, then, it’s not about the food, it’s about the chef and author: a high-maintenance gent, brash, insightful, a...

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A COOK’S TOUR

IN SEARCH OF THE PERFECT MEAL

Over-the-top and highly diverting international culinary adventures, always to be taken with a generous grain of salt—and make it Fleur de Sel—and best consumed a bite at a time.

Forget the “perfect meal” baloney. What chef Bourdain (the bestselling Kitchen Confidential, not reviewed, etc.) is looking for on his yearlong earth-spanning journey is a good mix of food, memory, and context, and if it comes with a modest side of danger and another of humor, more the better. Bourdain enjoys being outrageous—“blowing chunks” is how he vomits, and his “pig-fisting” is more aptly known as cleaning the intestine of a pig—and he over-relishes the mock macho (“Casinos? Run by the most vicious, hard-core Commie mass murderers in history? Well, why not check it out?”). But his enthusiasm is mighty engaging, and his snappy, full-bore writing style—whether being sarcastic, passionate, or descriptive—is good entertainment. And exhausting. Food, oh boy, does he know his food; only when speaking of food (and the rare landscape that gets right into his soul) does Bourdain get serious. In these tales, Bourdain lives close to the ground, getting the local experience, enjoying the alchemy of food in which necessity is the mother of cooking magic. With TV crew in tow—a series is in the works—Bourdain attends the butchering (literal and figurative) of a pig in Portugal and bacaloa-making in the Basque country, and partakes in vodka and black bread in Russia, a tagine of kefta in Morocco, and some truly nasty encounters in Mexico and Cambodia. (Truly nasty encounters, indeed, most everywhere.) And he seems never happier than when sticking it to the self-righteous, be they San Francisco vegans or folks decrying the making of foie gras (the birds, Bourdain notes, are fed “a considerably lesser amount comparative to body weight than, say, a Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast”).

Ultimately, then, it’s not about the food, it’s about the chef and author: a high-maintenance gent, brash, insightful, a jokester, and certainly someone you wouldn't want by your side at a touchy border crossing.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58234-140-0

Page Count: 308

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2001

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

SEVERAL SHORT SENTENCES ABOUT WRITING

New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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MOMOFUKU MILK BAR

With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    

 

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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