Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw
Respected but largely unknown New York City chef Tony Bourdain wrote a book called Kitchen Confidential over a decade ago. What has followed since is nothing short of the American dream. More books, TV shows, fame, fortune and family. Recently Bourdain released his latest, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook and is aiming for a paperback release later this year. In order for a little pay back, Tony is offering lessor known writers (like myself) a chance at stardom. Here, let him tell you:
Here is my entry:
Well Done: The essence of all that is cooking boiled down to fit comfortably in the proverbial nut shell.
I know people who insist that making tuna salad is “cooking.” They make the same argument for a bowl of cereal, can of soup, bag of chips and even Pop Tarts. They are “eat to live-ers” and are as alien to me as a Klingon. I, undoubtedly, am just as alien to them. Why would anyone grind chuck roast just to hand pat a burger when they could easily roll by a window and get a fat burger for under three bucks? Sadly, for them anything that doesn’t involve a combo number is “cooking.” Tragic news to someone who has enjoyed cooking since he was five years old. At the same time, good news for someone who has made a living from doing it for them. Life is a series of trade-offs.
For a cook, cooking is pseudonymous with creating; it is art. Whether that creation is an elegant Beef Wellington or a simple reduction sauce to bring life to an otherwise boring piece of chicken it is the process itself that draws us to the kitchen. There is rhythm in the chopping of onions and melody in the sizzle of bacon. At the risk of sounding overly metaphoric the kitchen is Pink Floyd and the meal is “Dark Side of the Moon.”
I have had people tell me that the food I cook at home tastes as good as restaurant food and they mean that as a compliment. Few restaurants, no matter how extravagant can touch a really great home cooked meal. A great meal is a communal event; it brings people closer together. Yet it is also an intensely personal experience. Intimacy only serves to accentuate the sensation. There is nothing more intimate than to cook for someone. Well, nothing that is considered appropriate in a public setting.
There is a place and a time for going out and having a great dinner at a restaurant and those times should be cherished. But every meal, everyday? Any idiot with an American Express card can walk into an Le Bernardin and have a meal that excites the senses. But it is a whole other animal to create that meal with your own imagination and energy. There is a self-satisfaction that cannot be replaced no matter how much money you throw at it.
To cook well, to cook really well is to elicit an emotional response that goes beyond the palate. Truly great food either conjures memories or creates them. It can be seen in the “oh face” of your fellow diners. The first bite of a truly great meal suspends time; that bite is like “the first time” and one should savor it for what it is, ecstasy. Crunchy, gooey, cheesy, acidic, sweet ecstasy.
Like it? Of course you do. So go vote for it HERE.