The first line of Anthony Bourdains new cookbook reads, This is not a cookbook. Hmmm? Its full of recipes, it has the word cookbook in the title, and if you go to your local bookstore, youll probably find a copy in the cookbook section. It is indeed a cookbook, but more importantly, it is also an insight into how Bourdain thinks and acts as a chef.
Fans of Bourdain know him from his behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant world in his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential
and as host of the gourmet globetrotting show A Cooks Tour
on the Food Network. His matter-of-fact attitude and sometimes-colorful language have made him the anti-celebrity celebrity chef. For food lovers, though, hes a chefs chef. Hes passionate about food and loves sharing that passion with others.
Unlike most cookbooks, the introduction of the Les Halles Cookbook is well worth reading. Bourdain gives us his insight into enjoying food (dont be a snob) and how to prepare ourselves when cooking. He discusses finding local products, getting your meat from a real butcher, and buying a good knife among other tips. Very enjoyable is Bourdains salute to two of the greatest chefs, Jacques Pépin and Jean-Louis Palladin.
is a French bistro and the recipes here reflect that. They are, for the most part, common French standbys. Few American cookbooks (and fewer restaurants) today stay true to their French roots. Under Bourdains careful tutelage, however, these recipes come alive. These dishes have remained unchanged for a hundred years, not from a lack of imagination, but because they are simply good food.
A sampling of recipes from the Les Halles Cookbook:
- Whole roasted fish basquaise
- Lobster bisque
- Escargots aux noix
- Steak tartare
- Braised veal shank
- Chartreuse of quail (quail and foie gras)
- Crème brûlée
- Chocolate hazelnut tart
Published by Bloomsbury, 2004. ISBN 1-58234-180-X $34.95.