Back in the year 2004 I was reading a rather depressing book pharmaceutically titled Prozac Nation and whilst almost finishing the book, I had thought that it was an eye opening subject that is rarely talked about in my living social fabric, but also at the same time it was a grim read, literally dirty, not in that sexual way, but in the very real sense that it made me felt I hadn't taken a shower for weeks, that I hadn't really looked at myself in the mirror, or check to see if I had eaten anything at all for the day. It was sad and whilst it gave me a somewhat point of view that sort of agrees to mine, I felt that it will be one book that I will come to forget, get over with, the subject as well as the psychological condition. Because frankly reading that book gave me reflections of the self? its capability if you will let it distort, will and mostly certainly do.
And so it was one of those stay in days reading in the kitchen, cigarettes and coffees, a light snack here and there to fester the completion of the book I find so disparagingly hard to complete, then my housemate barge in from the colder autumn days that came spilling not only the cold from the outer but the innards?of her rather posh shoulder bag, and there it was, white cover, with a portrait of a rather handsome looking American, slightly thinner, taller, harder looking Richard Gere look alike, an American no doubt, it has to be somehow I thought to myself. And although I didn't think much of it, it pique my buds enough to ask her what the book was about. She had but lightly in her very own diplomatic character told me that it was about the world of cooks, restaurants, and food. Bless her, she did open up a whole new realm for me there.
Needless to say, I was hooked from the very first page. The language of this man is straightforward, no nonsense, and he writes likes he speaks, it was on a very personal level that so much so I wished every autobiography was written that way, unforgiving, straight from the heart, no veneers, smokescreens, or any fancy words at that, only if it's really very necessary, his metaphors are brilliant and easy to grasp, and if you didn't, he'll explain it to you, and it's humorous even at times, but enough on the writing.
This man dishes out everything he knows in this book, it's almost like a starter pack for anybody who wants to read about the world of culinary arts and the underbelly of it. You get a sense he's not leaving you in the blind, everything is told, no one is spared but their names, and you're not just getting stories about food and their little own lexicons, its everything else that comes with it, all the sex, revenge, bad tempers, bad management, the nook and crannies, profanities, the sex, the drugs, the rock and roll, the binging and every part of the meat you can imagine and even more. At the same time, he tells you the finer things in life, the joy of cooking and eating, the beauty and sacredness of food, but also the sadness about certain dying artisan craftsmanship happening in the world, the sadness about suicidal Michelin stared chefs, and the glories and failures seen and heard on and off the record in the culinary world.
So anyone that has seen his TV shows, and enjoyed it, but never picked up a copy of his best-selling book, I assure you, it's going to be worthwhile. Everything that you thought you liked about this man and his life is magnified better in the book. Personally, it almost feels like he was doing the show and writing the book at the same time, but only much better in detail and with no censorship, at least it felt pretty damn close that he did. Oh and by the way, I never did return the book to the lady that came in from the cold, neither had I finish reading Prozac Nation?
P.S. if you happen to have already read "Kitchen Confidential", check out his Les Halles Cookbook, I assure you his "edgy" manner of speaking and personality continues there.
"...food is the most beautiful thing in this world that truly nourishes..." - anonymous.