Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential has already turned a few stomachs with its frank discussions of what goes on in the kitchens of America's favorite restaurants. He revels in anecdotes that would make an Ozzy Osbourne roadie question the catered stuff on his plate. Sex, drugs, sex near food while on drugs: Bourdain gleefully dishes the dirt on some of his former haunts, from the fish houses of New England to the elegant-on-the-outside eateries of New York. Yet the tone he takes with his joyously muckraking expose/memoir follows a distinctive rhythm, a blunt, boastful swagger that recalls some accounts of organized crime. Bourdain is just as likely to tantalize with his descriptions of food as disgust with his descriptions of the people and actions swirling around it, the activities disgusting yet somehow funny at the same time. It's an exhilarating combination often invoked in mobster tell-alls, but while there's more than a little goodfella in Bourdain—he dices, dresses, and dishes with trash-talking braggadocio—he clearly loves what he does. While he admits early on that the call of the kitchen often comes only after every other option has failed, he clearly enjoys working in such terrible conditions. It's like he has the key to the ultimate backroom club, a place of privilege where everyone operates with a different set of rules and gets off on a different set of thrills. Eat to live, don't live to eat, the saying goes, and for Bourdain, life is never better than when he's the one doing the cooking.
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