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A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal    by Anthony Bourdain Amazon.com order for
Cook's Tour
by Anthony Bourdain
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2005 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

After his first book, Kitchen Confidential, Tony Bourdain was described as the 'salty and ribald author who's made an extreme sport of food.' Now he 'dishes up a culinary world tour in a ... book and companion Food Network series' - the series aired in 2001. A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal is a graphic account of Bourdain's ramblings around many countries that are not on the average tourist's route.

Being a well-known chef (Executive Chef at the renowned Brasserie Les Halles in New York City) and having a TV crew trailing behind him gained Bourdain access to kitchens I would have quailed to enter. He also ate creatures I never would have thought could be eaten - with great gusto in Tokyo, and with less enthusiasm in Cambodia. Bourdain seems to have been fearless or possibly the fear was glazed over by local alcoholic concoctions when adding new - and at times disgusting - food items to his repertoire. A nostalgic trip with his brother to the France of their childhoods proved disappointing. While the oysters were superb, they both realized the missing ingredient was their late father. His flirtation with the potentially lethal Fugo blowfish in Japan would have turned lesser men's legs to jelly. He ate with pleasure, and in the confidence that he had chosen the one man in the world who could be trusted to feed you blowfish and not watch you die at his feet.

While describing meals I would only care to think about (and never to ingest), Bourdain also recounts, via his forthright opinions, the political situations in which he finds himself in the language he must use in his everyday life. After getting through the first chapter, the expletives seem to fit the narrative and lose their shock value. His reasons for not being on TV are listed also. Seem like good reasons to me. I drooled while vicariously sharing some of the meals he ate, felt full after others, and managed not to throw up over some of the bone crunching sessions. I laughed out loud as I enjoyed this brash, sexy, racy and outrageous book, that unfortunately occupied only a short period of time to read. I wanted more.

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