Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain
Although already the author of two well-received memoirs – Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour – as well as a couple of not so popular detective novels, it has taken American chef Anthony Bourdain a little while to embark on his own cookbook and he throws himself into the undertaking with commendable vigour.
An already hyperactive writing style doesn’t get lost anywhere along the way as he pushes, prods and sometimes seems to want to deliberately antagonise readers. Bourdain is the executive chef at New York City restaurant Les Halles, and he has decreed that this book is a “field manual to strategy and tactics”. To that end, he’s determined to treat the reader as if he or she were a rookie in his kitchen. He doesn’t mince his words as he coerces and advises, issuing warnings and occasionally yelling (in print).
Bourdain takes the solid, mainly carnivorous (don’t miss the blood and guts chapter), French principles behind Les Halles and reworks them for a private kitchen to good effect. Behind all the bluster, there’s a chef with a talent for imparting his knowledge of food to those who wish to learn. While it won’t be very useful to vegetarians (fans of Ysanne Spevack’s Fresh and Wild Cookbook avoid!), the Les Halles Cookbook is an undoubted education.
Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain is published by Bloomsbury. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
Been meaning to pick this up and now I’ll make a point of it. I know AB is a fan of what most would consider “offal” but after eating some crazy concoctions from a Calabrese kitchen, where nothing goes to waste (and liking it), I’m a little more keen.Yelling in print? A good idea. I think I’ll do that on the next recipe I post my sister. If I’d only written “do not overmix” in bold caps on all those muffin recipes maybe it would get noticed. She makes the toughest muffins going, admits that she disregards the mixing instructions, and still swears that the reason they’re not “like mine” is because I leave out ingredients.
Having been brought up on liver, tongue and (my favourite) kidneys, offal holds no fears for me either and I respect AB’s attitude towards meat – ie honour the animal by eating all of it, not just what much of society considers to be the good bits. He speaks very highly of Fergus Henderson of St John in London and the author of Nose to Tail Eating. Actually, that – also – sounds like a book worth getting your hands on. Once you start, it’s very difficult to stop.
I’ll be interested to know if the shouting in print to your sister actually works! Nothing worse than a tough muffin…
Caroline – have you tried any of the recipes yet? I’ve had this book for a couple of years and I have to say that anytime I try anything, it is absolutely perfect. I am also a huge fan of Gordon Ramsey and many of their recipes (probably the french background) are virtually identical. Despite the continent difference their style is very similar too. Keep the reviews coming! Love it!
I must confess that I haven’t actually, Deborah. As a matter of fact, it’s gone missing between moves so I’m hoping to rediscover it when we finally settle at the cottage and I have a chance to unpack all my books!