Sunday, October 21, 2007

Week 5

Part I
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Part II
In this section-Dessert-Anthony Bourdain spends more time describing the characters and relationships that take place in his kitchen. He begins by detailing what he desires in an ideal Sous-Chef, and tells of his closest friend Steven; a man of many talents, among them being a careful observer, an excellent cook, and a reliable person who gets anything and everything done, no matter what. There is also a "Level of Discourse". The manner of exchange in the kitchen is likened to that of a pirate ship; low class, complicated, and vulgar. There are dos and dont's, as well as several languages and common phrases that create what is known as the international language of cuisine. There are also other bodies in the restaurant besides cooks and waiters; they are the fullback-esque runners, the lonely and suspicious night porter, and "The Chef's Friend"; the bar tender. These are the final key cogs in the machinery that is a successful restaurant. The second to last chapter is focused on Adam; a friend of Steven's who Bourdain describes as [God's] "personal bread baker.." However, despite whatever greatness he possesses with the dough, Adam is a complete wreck; he's a vulgar, maniacal, megalomaniac of a fool who can't control his life, constantly getting into drugs, trouble, and debt. What Bourdain loves about this ultimate case of good-with-the-bad is that, no matter what goes wrong in Adam's life, he can always create the bread of the gods. Lastly, Bourdain describes what it takes to run a good ship, explaining his tough love attitude in the kitchen that is only surpassed by his fanatical loyalty to the members of his crew, forever endearing him to them.

I didn't really enjoy Bourdain's narrative of his beloved kitchen-speak, as i found it pretty dull and uninteresting. These people were simply using variations of swear words and sexual terms (amusing as they may be) as a replacement for language, which just dumbs down what you're doing. I've experienced this, and found i didn't like it when used in excess. The only thing i managed to squeeze out of this section was a review of spanish insults. I did like reading about Steven and Adam though; they were brilliant guys capable of amazing things, while being sub-human at best sometimes-their faults almost completely nullifying any success they had at moments. Bourdain's tales of their humor and achievements helped him to rebound after a somewhat bland (though i'm sure he meant it to be hilarious) previous chapter. As for the chapter of "other bodies", it was nice to read about, because it filled in the gaps of the restaurant, putting a name with a face, so to speak; adding in the final characters who the cooks interacted with. Bourdain also gave me a new way to look at a bar tender: he glamorized the man serving drinks and lending a sympathetic ear as a creature of power who was to be treated as an equal; he could supply free drinks after all.

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