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A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines [Paperback]

Anthony Bourdain
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars on the road and out of the kitchen. May 16 2002
By pppilll
I'm new to reading travel books. I read "Blue Highways" in college and Bill Bryson's book about the Appalachian Trail recently. I guess I've been lucky so far...this is a good read in that vein. Neither of my last two finds are Earth shattering, but that's what makes them inspirational and sort of a bit-more-than-commonplace. What I mean is, it inspires you to try new things that you really can do on a realistic scale.
I've seen the Food Network show that the book builds upon. You'll read about what your not seeing. That's the beauty. On the TV show you may see Tony grimace through eating igauna for a moment, but in the book you get a great description of just how horrible it was. Or how he had to re-shoot his entrance to a restaurant---after a full course meal with waitress-induced drinks.
It's all about taking the cooking show out of the kitchen and getting adventurous. Can you see Emiril(sp?) sleeping in a floor-to-ceiling tiled dive hotel and then helping kill what he eats? Or haggling to buy a whole goat, riding camels over sand dunes all day (i can't see either Emeril or Mario doing that...unless it's on a Supercamel), and finally drinking beer, smoking hash, and eating the goat? Me either. And it's done with a great description of getting the goat and even the mud covered oven it's cooked in. The night sky. The campfire jokes.
In a nutshell, if you like cooking shows, like cooking, and like travelling, then give this book a whirl. This would be a great book to take traveling as it will inspire you to dig beyond the well-travelled main streets in search of the authentic experience wherever you are. Sights, sounds, smells, and tastes. Tony's NY city-boy point of view only accentuates the more rural experiences in the book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Taking It Back April 5 2002
I take it all back. Everything I said about Kitchen Confidential I take back. The scrappy edit, the attitude, the skipping over of history, the half-told tales. I take it all back. If the success of that book meant that Anthony Bourdain was allowed to write this book - well, I take it all back.
This time around, Tony (he's Tony, like Tony Soprano) is travelling the world looking for the perfect meal. What that entails (or rather, what that entrails) is eating delicacies indigenous to specific locales: he eats a still-beating cobra's heart and drinks snake bile in Vietnam, he devours the intestines of a pig (and the everything else of a pig) in Portugal, he sucks up fish eyes, he eats a whole roasted lamb with the Tuareg (a nomadic desert community) in the Sahara, he dines with Russian gangsters, he even eats vegetarian food (and you know how much Tony hates vegetarians!). But it's more than that: he eats powdered dried king prawns, chopped toro and fresh chives, he eats tiny coronets of salmon tartare, shallot soup with English cucumber sorbet and dill-weed tuile. Your mouth aches. He eats muc huap (which is steamed squid and ginger), ca thut xot ca chu (tuna braised in tomato and cilantro) and mi canh ca (a sweet-and-sour soup of fish, noodles, tomato, onion, cilantro, pineapple and scallion, together with green crabs overstuffed with roe). You are narcotic with hunger.
But there is still more. You warm to Tony more this time around. It feels like the pressure is off. He is no longer performing (or at least not in the same way). We're old friends now, almost. What problems there are (he still skips - the book is wildly episodic and anecdotal - one chapter he is here, one chapter he is there - you get no real sense of WHY he goes to the places he does, what decisions are made concerning the passage from A to B) don't seem to matter quite so much because the episodes themselves are just so damn good.
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Having read "Kitchen Confidential", it is evident that Bourdain has a unique approach to being a chef. In "A Cook's Tour", he travels the world in search of the "perfect meal", or to be exact, his perfect meal. He is quick to recognize that the concept of a perfect meal is very subjective, and is different for each person
He travels through Europe and Asia, searching out some of the most unusual and incredible dishes, and he has a camera crew along for the ride. Even if this was not to become a Food Network series, it would still be a great book. Bourdain considers this whole thing to be his way of selling out, which he points out early on, with some humility. Anyone who has read "Kitchen Confidential" would know that Bourdain hates celebrity chefs, Bobby Flay and Emeril being the cheif offenders in his books. For him to do something like this is, in his own worlds, selling himself out. Is it a healthy disrespect for success, or daftness? Perhaps both. But it is a fascinating journey, and exposes different and unusual culinary practices that are interesting, and sometimes hard to stomach.
As someone who aspires to be a chef, this book has presented a neat learning curve to me. The importance of embracing new techniques, and different cuisine of different cultures, is half the battle for being a good chef. The idea for this book was excellent, and it is something that most people would want to do given the oppertunity. Though not all aspects of this book are pleasant. Bourdain visits some places that most of us would rather not. In Asia, he visits a dirty, stagnat swamp hotel just so he can try the fire-roasted duck. He talks about episodes of food poisoning, bacteria, and animal slaughtering.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best of AB's books in my opinion, love the random order and variety of stories
Published 8 days ago by Shawn Pinsent
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
I spied this at a book sale and thought I'd take a chance on it to see how it compares to the show. Raw, honest, insightful and entertaining Tony takes you along on a worldwide... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Murray Callaghan
1.0 out of 5 stars Ignorance, hypocrisy and priviledge at its finest...
I began this book with much excitement and anticipation in having heard wonderful things about Kitchen Confidential. However, I was gravely disappointed. Read more
Published on Jan. 23 2011 by diversitymatters
3.0 out of 5 stars Lots of good food
This is a travelogue about eating. Bourdain decides he wants to sample the best of what's out there, and he travels far and wide to find what he's looking for. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003 by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Perfect Meal or the Perfect Free Lunch...
Tony confesses at the beginning he sold out, but then takes us along for a great ride. I was interested because I had seen the show, I could tell he wasn't that serious, but was... Read more
Published on June 22 2003 by J. Thomas Vincent
3.0 out of 5 stars Inconsistent
The thing about Portugal--the fattening and killing of the pig to using its bladder as a soccer ball--was wonderfully described. Read more
Published on May 18 2002 by Robert Kim
1.0 out of 5 stars The pig was not the one that should have been slaughtered
I read Kitchen Confidential with an unexpected glee. I loved it, loved Anthony Bourdain, from soup to nuts. Read more
Published on March 31 2002 by Nikki Douglas
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Companion piece to the show
Its a bit like reading the script for the show. I like the way Anthony Bourdain writes. Is it just me but doesn't all that smoking affect your tastebuds? Read more
Published on March 20 2002 by msjbean
2.0 out of 5 stars NOT KC2 AND TOO MUCH POLITICS!
While "A Cook's Tour" includes descriptions of interesting places, people and some bizarre meals, it simply doesn't hold up to the raw impact of "Kitchen Confidential. Read more
Published on March 11 2002 by Medical Billing Expert
5.0 out of 5 stars Even vegetarians could like this book
I must admit that I really like Bourdain. I'm a strict vegetarian, and he really knocks them in this book. But, simply put, he is a passionate writer. Read more
Published on March 9 2002 by mike waugh
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