Thursday, October 25, 2007
In this final section, Anthony Bourdain goes into detail on the life of Scott Bryan; a brilliant, successful chef who is a professional with an exceptional love affair with cooking. Bourdain compares Scott to himself, describing the dramatic contrasts in their methods and paths to their current positions; Scott was methodical, logical, and planned ahead, while Anthony was always chasing the money, and had to stack his failures one after another to create a stairway to success.
Bourdain then details his most recent adventure to the book being published-an exotic week spent in Tokyo, experiencing tastes, smells, textures, and styles he never knew existed. "We were brought frozen sake, thick, cloudy, utterly delicious. The first sip seemed to worm its way directly into my brain like an intoxicating ice-cream headache." (280) He then closes by first giving a checklist to aspiring chefs, and then reviewing his life, emphasizing the fact that it is nothing short of a miracle that he is alive and doing alright, thanks largely to the people around him, who he is very close to.
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly was a creative, interesting memoir that the author Anthony Bourdain used to do many things- vent, love, laugh, and narrate-with the main focus being to give the reader an in depth, behind the scenes look at what took place in the kitchens for which he labored. His execution of imagery, tone, and word choice allowed him to effectively express his thoughts so as to properly paint the images and memories he needed to tell his story.
First of the trio comes imagery; Bourdain employs this method almost immediately, pulling you down into the depths of his memoir, describing his first realization that "food is good" when he first tasted the cold soup Vichyssoise..."I remember everything about the experience: the way our waiter ladled it from a silver tureen into my bowl; the crunch of tiny chopped chives he spooned on as garnish; the rich, creamy taste of leek and potato; the pleasurable shock, the surprise that it was cold."(10) Imagery was a common tool for describing important parts in his life, such as when he realized that he truly didn't have what it takes-he had made the foolish mistake of asking for a band aid, and so was shown up in front of the whole Mario-crew..."Tyrone turned slowly to me, looked down through bloodshot eyes, the sweat dripping off his nose, and said, "Whachoo want, white boy? Burn cream? A Band-Aid?" followed by Tyrone exhibiting his hands..."They looked like the claws of some monstrous science-fiction crustacean, knobby and calloused under wounds old and new. I watched, transfixed, as Tyrone-his eyes never leaving mine-reached slowly under the broiler and, with one naked hand, picked up a glowing-hot sizzle-platter, moved it over to the cutting board and set it down in front of me. He never flinched." (34)
The second tool Bourdain used to get his ideas across was tone, as shown here where he describes his former self with the disdain of someone looking down upon a lowly creature; "Stabilized on methadone, I became nearly unemployable by polite society: a shiftless, untrustworthy coke-sniffer, sneak thief and corner-cutting hack, toiling in obscurity in the culinary backwaters." (144) He could also use it to show the good times, of course, here describing his sous chef, hero, and friend Steven: "...behaves like an utter pig at times, freely discussing his every digestive, dermatological and sexual manifestation with anyone within hearing. And this...this, dear reader, is my closest and most trusted friend and associate." (218) Bourdain also used tone to create a relieved feeling as he looked back upon his years in the culinary game: "I was comfortably ensconsed in secure digs, with a wife who still-remarkably-found me to be amusing on occasion. I had a job I loved, in a successful restaurant...and i was alive, for chrissakes! I was still around!" (268)
Lastly, the third and final means of expression for Bourdain was word choice; his vocabulary would flucuate from being quite crude at times- "motherf***er"(224 and others) and "love-chunks" (225) on the softer end of the spectrum, to ornate and intelligent-sounding. "..in a Byzantine rondelay of transactions as the cooks settled up the previous week's drug debts.."(22) (even if the topic itself is crude). He also used loaded words to create specific ideas in the reader's head; "My simple Italian lunch, re-creating a home-cooked meal prepared by a gangster character in the book, must have looked to the chef like roadkill" (275)
In closing, Anthony Bourdain used countless variations of Imagery, Tone, and Word Choice to express the ideas and messages he desired, while creating detailed images in the reader's head. These methods, coupled with his rich experiences made for a very interesting memoir, allowing one to experience what it was truly like to be a chef in the dangerous world that is the culinary underbelly.
Posted by Max at 6:54 PM