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31 August 2010


I just finished reading, erhm, skimming this book. I absolutely agree with you that the Justo Thomas chapter is the best part. I did get somewhat misty-eyed at the end of the chapter when Bourdain treats Justo to lunch at the restaurant where Justo has worked for years (but he's never actually eaten there). Great stuff.

Too bad, but it has to happen at some point with people with a relatively narrow focus. It must be easier for people like Bill Bryson or John McPhee who get to cover something fresh each time they come out with a new book.

Sorry to hear that he's getting a bit lost. It's always sad when a favorite begins to believe his/her own hype.

Tripp, so funny that you would mention John McPhee--I just stumbled across my copy of Annals of the Former World and had to fight not to fall into it again.

Well, I'm kind of relieved I wasn't the only person with this reaction. I love Bourdain and am always willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, though, so I'll still read his next book. I just hope there will be more Justo Thomas-esque stories in it (and I agree that the two of them eating in Justo's restaurant--where he'd never eaten before--was a nice touch).

Well, that can happen (run out of material) but I think the problem here was that Bourdain didn't have a narrow enough focus. I guess as his work changes his focus has to change too, but I know personally I find the world of actual kitchen work much more interesting than the world of celebrity chefdom. And again--maybe that's just me. In all fairness I can only read so much Bryson at a time too. :)

Well, surprisingly, I must say the enthusiasm Bourdain continues to bring to the world of food is great--I don't think he's so much believing his own hype as he is giving in to publishing's incessant demands for a bestseller every year. Frankly, I think it's hard for ANYONE to produce a stellar book-length work of NF once a year. Essays are tough, and they should be given more time.

Hm, John McPhee. I think I read "Uncommon Carriers" but not much else of his. Thanks for the reminder...

Oh jeez, is Bourdain on the ortolan thing? There was a really great essay in Harper's about all that years -- maybe a decade ago -- and how it was supposedly Francois Mitterand's last meal. At least that's my memory, though I can't come up with anything on a quick google search.

Nan, I am reading "The Imperfectionists" which is fiction, but in the first chapter there is mention of the ortolan being Mitterand's last meal...So it may be still be urban myth, but you have a confirmation there.

Indeed, he is referring to an ortolan (I had to go back and check--I had missed the name of the bird in my discomfort at crunching through its bones), and he also mentions the Mitterand thing. Unfortunately, now I have to go to Wikipedia and look up Francois Mitterand. My only defense is that as much attention as I pay to British history is how little attention I pay to French history.

Are you liking "The Imperfectionists"? I only got through the first chapter and then it was due, it wasn't lighting me on fire so I didn't think I'd get it back. But if you tell me it's stupendous (it certainly got good reviews) I might get it back! (Weird coincidence on the ortolan, by the way.)

I'd rather read Bourdain's nonfiction than his fiction, so I'll probably give this one a try.

That's fair. Just skip any essays if they don't do it for you (or maybe they all will!). I agree, his fiction is interesting, and better than I thought it would be, but I still prefer his NF.


I also keep some of my old McPhee's around to read, or at least dip into, again. He is one of the greats.


Ah, well that would be annoying. When he slips into cable celebrity mode, it is rather boring. re: McPhee, you can pretty much pick at random and find something good, but the one Rachael mentioned is particularly good.

Hi CR,

Yes, I am enjoying “The Imperfectionists”. I am only on the third chapter, but it would seem that each chapter is a vignette, rather than a passage that moves the plot forward. So maybe you would like it if you read further.

I like weird coincidences like that. Often, when I learn something new, a word, a fact, what ever, I find it starts popping up afterwards.

Yes, I know McPhee is skilled. I just didn't get around to him yet! I'll add the title Rachael mentioned to my TBR list pronto!

Yes, I liked the vignette style--another book I want to get back at some point. And yes, isn't it weird how stuff starts popping up in books and elsewhere when you note them? ONe of the best parts of nonfiction reading, in particular.

Has anyone read Bourdain's Typhoid Mary biography? I haven't heard about it but it came across the desk at the library the other day and I grabbed it -- because Bourdain's a good writer and because it's one of those small bios that are appealing, especially in contrast to your typical doorstop tome.

Not harper's (funny how memory works, isn't it? I had a very strong visual of the Harper's layout and everything). It was Esquire, May 1998, by Michael Paterniti. http://www.esquire.com/features/The-Last-Meal-0598

I haven't read the Typhoid Mary bio yet, but I always meant to. I saw a documentary on her once that was fascinating, so I'll bet between her story and Bourdain's writing skill that's actually a pretty good little book. And thanks for the Esquire link! I enjoy Michael Paterniti so I'm off to read it right now!

Wait, Bourdain wrote a Typhoid Mary bio? I'm so going to find that!

He most certainly did!

I LOVE this! SO cute!*

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If you’re a regular reader or have attended any of my webcasts or live seminars you probably know of my passion for the technology now known as “scan and populate” --- I term I coined back in 2006 when the concept was first being developed.

There was a really great essay in Harper's about all that years -- maybe a decade ago -- and how it was supposedly Francois Mitterand's last meal.

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It has been such a glorious summer with the nice weather. Made yesterday's heat and humidity even that more unbearable. I cross my fingers that we have an early autumn!!!

n a meeting last week, someone mentioned that Anthony Bourdain might have "jumped the shark." That Bourdain has turned into a one-note singer -- go to a city, snark about it, get drunk, sop up hangover with greasy pork-laden food, get back on plane to New York..

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