Top critical review
An anthology of longform articles
Reviewed in the United States on January 18, 2017
Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite voices around these days. His shows, from Food Network to Travel Channel to CNN, have always been one of the few reasons I have to maintain a cable subscription. After binge watching an entire season of Parts Unknown (again), I finally took the plunge into Kitchen Confidential - the book that made Bourdain more than just a chef. And it was good! So now I keep an eye out for deals involving Bourdain’s books, and it was just such a deal that prompted me to pick up The Nasty Bits.
Now, the first thing to keep in mind with The Nasty Bits is that it isn’t really a book, per se, but rather a collection of Bourdain’s writings in various magazines. If you’re a fan of his shows, you’ll find some familiar locales and faces in the pieces represented - Vegas, Thailand, Vietnam. However, there’s also a lot more inside-baseball when it comes to the culinary art world that has faded from the TV presentations over time.
An impassioned argument about the raw food movement that took the world by storm awhile back. Reflections on a heavily nostalgic vision of New York City in the 80s. Bourdain’s first all-expenses-paid trip for a magazine (to Brazil) and another aboard the super cruise liner The World. There are funny bits, angry bits, and yes - nasty bits. However, the best bits actually come at the back of the book, where you’ll find short commentaries on each article. With the benefit of hindsight, Bourdain is able to admit faults and shed light on the context surrounding an article - the context you never get to see in such articles.
I’m an avid magazine reader as it is - longform feature pieces, travel, and insight into niches of the world I’ll never likely set foot in myself are as addictive to me as cigarettes used to be - so once I was able to change myself from ‘book reading’ mode to ‘magazine reading’ mode, I enjoyed The Nasty Bits a lot more. However, it may not be for everyone.