The Rompel Report: review of Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook

Neil Pendock April 18, 2017 0

Cookbooks are difficult to judge as the main criteria, the smell and taste of the meals, is not transferred to the reader. A German saying goes:”the eye is also eating” – very true as I myself am very fond of nicely prepared and appetisingly looking plates. And this must be the angle of any cookbook- not too complicated recipes combined with mouth-watering pictures. Did Anthony Bourdain achieve that? Partially, at least his meatballs look burned in the picture.

The book should also have a parental guidance index set very high at around 21 years, as the language he uses is straight from the gutter, probably intentionally so. Be that as it may, the guy knows food, he knows how to prepare it and he knows what it takes. What his wife’s karate addiction has to do with the cookbook remains a mystery however, just like the pictures of her looking rather exhausted after a fight.
In his book he covers the entire range from breakfast to deserts (or better cheese), and even right at the beginning where he explains how to make scrambled eggs, he shows his class. Read carefully, even with something so simple you can learn something. Scrambled eggs need to be turned over lightly and should not be served overcooked and dried out. He further adds a bit of history to the dishes he describes. I did not know that Cesar’s Salad originated from Mexico.
Some dishes are quite involved and have a lengthy list of ingredients and are not easy to prepare, others are simple and should be easy work. Some of his Italian dishes are rather an Americanised version, overdone, too many ingredients, and evolved away from the simple cuisine of mama from bella Italia.
Unfortunately not all recipes have pictures, which is sad, as the reader’s willingness to prepare one of the dishes is directly related to the appetising picture presented. Nevertheless, most dishes do come with pictures. But even in the illustrations Bourdain likes to shock. Him with a mouth full of spaghetti hanging down about a metre to the location of the plate on the table do not spark the urge in me to replicate the dish.
One would also have to challenge Bourdain on his roasted taste buds. He finds smoking cool and does (or at least did for a long time) smoke a lot. It is not rocket science to realise that smoking changes the taste of almost everything, fine wine being at the forefront here, and food being close on its heels.

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