Darya Pino Rose

I'm Darya Rose (formerly Darya Pino) and this is my personal blog. I'm the author of Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting, and creator of Summer Tomato, one of TIME's 50 Best Websites. I'm also a neuroscience Ph.D, NYC foodist, former dieter, & soulmate to .

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Medium Raw Is Medium-Well Done

I just finished Anthony Bourdain’s latest book, Medium Raw. I’ll start by admitting—with my head lowered and eyes slightly averted—that I enjoyed it.

If you’re into gratuitous food porn, opinionated trash talking and tabloidesque scoops inside the international fine dining scene, then you will probably be as entertained by Medium Raw as I was. If you’re looking for something high-brow and educational, or have no desire for Bourdain’s heartfelt self-loathing to rub off on you, probably not so much.

Generally I found Bourdain’s second shot at non-fiction to be slightly more mature and valuable than Kitchen Confidential, his first best-seller. But about midway through it started to leave a bad taste in my mouth.

No one will be surprised to hear that Bourdain has opinions. Lots of them. And he holds no punches in dishing them out. Embodied by the chapter “Heroes and Villains” and one-uped by the following chapter “Alan Richman Is a Douchebag,” Medium Raw is a veritable this-is-what-I think-about-(fill in your favorite food persona, restaurant, cooking show, 4-star chef, etc.) opinion storm the likes of which only Bourdain can serve up.

The problem is not that his arguments are unfair or off the mark. On the contrary, they seem well thought through and are probably accurate. These morsels are exactly the kind of juicy gossip you hope to get from Medium Raw. But that doesn’t make it any easier to listen to people’s characters being drawn through the mud for no obvious reason except that Bourdain knows people will pay to hear it.

Does that make me hate him? No. Does it make me like him? Not especially.

But no matter how distasteful I find his character profiling, I have to admit the man has a talent for literary food porn. Never before have I been so intrigued by the idea of consuming an endangered species as during Medium Raw’s preamble, “The Sit Down,” in which he describes a secret dinner of ortolan, a protected bird species of Europe.

If the collective conscious of San Francisco could have read my thoughts while I devoured Bourdain’s luscious and painfully detailed description of his forbidden meal, I’d certainly be banned from living here for the rest of my life.

So while I grudgingly concede that I took pleasure in Bourdain’s x-rated culinary imagery and foul-mouthed inquisition of the culinary glitterati, there’s no denying I’m ashamed of the fact.

Read Medium Raw at your own risk, but don’t say I didn’t warn you:

You may actually enjoy it.

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