The Nasty Bits

July 16, 2006

I’ve written before about how much I enjoy Anthony Bourdain’s writing and television shows. It should be no surprise, then, that I enjoyed his most recently published work: The Nasty Bits. ‘Bits’ collects together some of the articles and essays written since Kitchen Confidential made Bourdain something of a household name.

The most striking aspect of the collected works is probably their lack of focus. Nasty Bits reads like a random brain dump, covering everything from the cuisine on a luxury liner to the crime against humanity that is the raw food movement. What ties all of the pieces together is the author’s acerbic self-righteousness; what makes Bourdain an ass in my wife’s eyes makes him a fun read.

Like Kitchen Confidential‘s ‘meal’ motif, the book is divided up into sections. Here, the Salty, the Sweet, the Sour, and the Bitter join the ineffable ‘Umami’ in describing what you’ll be reading in each article. The Sour and the Bitter may sound most like what you’re used to from Bourdain, so the lighter Salty and Sweet sections are very refreshing if all you expect are cynical diatribes. He’s particularly complimentary to the Mexican and Ecuadorian line cooks that have made modern cuisine possible, and even has a few good words to say about the cooking of the great unwashed masses in the fly-over states.

It was interesting to read tie-in elements to his shows, as well. A short piece on the grandeur of Chinese cuisine was written during the taping of a No Reservations episode on the nation. Another article included is actually the focus of the Vegas episode of that show. He discusses more of the debauchery that went on during the filming than was hinted at in the show, and it’s an informative read that also manages to be quite hilarious.

Nasty Bits
is certainly not a tome for the ages, made up as it is of material already published elsewhere. Just the same, it’s a fun read for the beach or between more serious books. Kitchen Confidential will certainly always be known as a ‘better’ book, but you’ll still get a lot of enjoyment out of this look inside the grimy parts of Bourdain’s brain.



  1. For the record. I hate Anthony Bourdain and I hope he dies very soon.

  2. What did Bourdain ever do to you?

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