- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (5 November 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060012781
- ISBN-13: 978-0060012786
- Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,69,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines Paperback – 5 Nov 2002
Audio CD, Abridged, Audiobook, Import
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A Cook's Tour is the written record of Anthony Bourdain's travels around the world in his search for the perfect meal. All too conscious of the state of his 44-year-old knees after a working life standing at restaurant stoves, but with the unlooked-for jackpot of Kitchen Confidential as collateral, Mr. Bourdain evidently concluded he needed a bit more wind under his wings.
The idea of "perfect meal" in this context is to be taken to mean not necessarily the most upscale, chi-chi, three-star dining experience, but the ideal combination of food, atmosphere, and company. This would take in fishing villages in Vietnam, bars in Cambodia, and Tuareg camps in Morocco (roasted sheep's testicle, as it happens); it would stretch to smoked fish and sauna in the frozen Russian countryside and the French Laundry in California's Napa Valley. It would mean exquisitely refined kaiseki rituals in Japan after yakitori with drunken salarymen. Deep-fried Mars Bars in Glasgow and Gordon Ramsay in London. The still-beating heart of a cobra in Saigon. Drink. Danger. Guns. All with a TV crew in tow for the accompanying series--22 episodes of video gold, we are assured, featuring many don't-try-this-at-home shots of the author in gastric distress or crawling into yet another storm drain at four in the morning.
You are unlikely to lay your hands on a more hectically, strenuously entertaining book for some time. Our hero eats and swashbuckles round the globe with perfect-pitch attitude and liberal use of judiciously placed profanities. Bourdain can write. His timing is great. He is very funny and is under no illusions whatsoever about himself or anyone else. But most of all, he is a chef who got himself out of his kitchen and found, all over the world, people who understand that eating well is the foundation of harmonious living. --Robin Davidson, Amazon.co.uk
Food Writer of the Year (Bon Appétit)
“[Bourdain] is a one-man army traveling the world on his stomach--and his droll wit.” (People)
“None of your limp-wristed, pinch-mouthed, hoity-toity delicacies for this guy.” (Elle)
“Bourdain’s mission is to show the cool, un-Martha side of the culinary world.” (Time magazine)
“Mighty engaging.... [Bourdain’s] snappy, full-bore writing style--whether being sarcastic, passionate, or descriptive--is good entertainment.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“Adventurous and opinionated, [Bourdain] is very good company.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
“Brilliant. A chain-smoking, hard-drinking, cut-to-the-chase guy’s guy, ready to try anything new and different.” (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
“Some fine food adventure reading…. Bourdain offers excellent insight into real food.” (San Francisco Chronicle)
“If you’re looking for a camel ride and an amiable companion, you could do a lot worse.” (Washington Post)
“Vintage Bourdain.” (Dallas Morning News)
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Although he encounters several problems with dishes from around the world (the Mexican sautéed ant eggs and Scottish deep-fried haggis with curry sauce and deep fried egg stand out), the most stunning for my money are the things he eats in Asia, and especially Vietnam. I for one would not be able to eat the traditional Vietnamese breakfast of soft-boiled duck embryo complete with feathers, followed by a steaming bowl of "chao muk", a hearty soup made from ginger, sprouts, cilantro, shrimp, squid, chives, pork-blood cake, and croutons; later Tony enjoyed some braised bat ("imagine braised inner tube, sauced with engine coolant"). Even worse than that, though, is the concept of eating a still-beating cobra heart, after a very special snake disemboweling ceremony.
While Vietnam takes the proverbial cake, the book features other gastronomic nightmares from around the globe, with Japan coming in second in the contest for unusual and disturbing foodstuffs. The foodie tour of Japan started out benignly enough, with an appetizer of "amuse-gueule of hoshigaka goma-an" (dried persimmon and fried soy curd with sesame paste), but quickly progressed to things like "suppon-dofu" (a soft-shell turtle in egg pudding with green onion and turtle broth), and culminated in the classic and beloved Japanese delicacy, "natto", which Bourdain describes as "an unbelievably foul, rank, slimy, glutinous, and stringy goop of fermented soybeans". After the natto, Bourdain finished with a dish described as "mountain potato": of this he said, "I could only handle a single taste. To this day, I have no idea what it really was.... The small, dark, chewy nugget can only be described as tasting like salt-cured, sun-dried goat rectum".
Throughout the book, Bourdain maintains his wry, sarcastic sense of humor, possibly as a survival tool to get him through his next meal. He mocks a vegan potluck dinner as the "real heart of darkness", discusses fabled and exotic foods such as the unbelievably rank durian fruit, and always manages to do it while being respectful of local traditions and cultures very different from his existence in New York City. This is a great book for anyone interested in foods and cultures of the world, and I recommend it highly!
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