Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain

The only thing "gonzo gastronome" and internationally bestselling author Anthony Bourdain loves as much as cooking is traveling. Inspired by the question, "What would be the perfect meal?," Tony sets out on a quest for his culinary holy grail, and in the process turns the notion of "perfection" inside out. From California to Cambodia, A Cooks' Tour chronicles the unpredictable adventures of America's boldest and bravest chef.
I'm a fan of Anthony Bourdain's shows but because it's been years since I've read Kitchen Confidential, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed his writing style.

In A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, Bourdain shares with readers moments and thoughts that he has had on his tours of different countries. Each chapter takes place in one country and usually centers around a specific story or theme.

Anthony Bourdain can be crude sometimes, but the man has a way with words, particularly when it comes to describing food. That's not to say that he didn't do a good job telling stories of his travels. His descriptions are quite vivid, and it wasn't difficult to imagine being there with him on his adventures.

The style and tone is what you'd come to expect if you watch his shows. The wit, sarcasm, candor and cursing are all present.

From his stories, it's easy to get swept up and feel the desire to travel to the places he mentions. For example, while reading of his adventures in Vietnam, I felt a strong urge to eat some pho and try other Vietnamese cuisine. His foodie adventures in other countries were also interesting, although I didn't feel the same pull to eat the food. It's probably due to Bourdain's obvious love and enthusiasm for Vietnam and its cuisine, but I vividly remember loving pho the first time I tried it, so it's probably the cuisine itself as well. The only place that I felt that he was unenthusiastic about was Cambodia. The picture he painted of Cambodia was not very cheery. I think things have gotten better since then, though.

Aside from his adventures, he also talks about other chefs. The ones that stood out to me are Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller. I am a fan of both chefs, and it's pretty clear that Bourdain is too. In fact, he seems to have a little bit of a man crush on both of them. I found that adorable. Also, I now I have a very strong desire to eat at The French Laundry.


  1. There are plenty of interesting stories here.
  2. The descriptions of the places are a mix of positive and negative.
  3. The descriptions of the food are mouthwatering.


  1. There's a part of me that wishes that the stories about Vietnam were grouped together. 

“The journey is part of the experience - an expression of the seriousness of one's intent. One doesn't take the A train to Mecca.” 

  1. You liked Kitchen Confidential.
  2. You like travel books that share both the positive and negative aspects of a place.
  3. You are a fan of Anthony Bourdain's shows. 



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