Ever since he wrote Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain has been the bad boy of the kitchen, and we’ve loved him for it.
We’ve followed his writings and his TV shows, never seeming to be able to get enough of his drinking, his in-your-face monologues, his wit and his casual sunglassed skinny-jeaned larger-than-life personality.
Bourdain is certainly a character to behold.
But if you’ve been watching him over the years, you’ve seen him ever so slightly change. He got married and then had a daughter. Kids do things to you. They make you identify your priorities; you quit smoking, you work out and, in general, you become calmer.
This is what we’re seeing in Bourdain’s newest release, Appetites, a cookbook of family favorites, including many recipes that he specifically makes for his daughter when he’s not on the road.
There’s nothing overly fancy here. Bourdain includes a recipe for Portuguese Squid and Octopus Soup (anyone who knows him knows he loves “slimy” seafood) right alongside another recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup (which has the taste of comfort, security and recently dried tears).
Chopped Liver on Rye is followed by New England Style Lobster Roll (spoiler alert, he uses mayonnaise for the meat and butter for the roll).
He’s even included a family favorite recipe of macaroni and cheese that uses four types of cheese (just because it’s a family favorite doesn’t mean it can’t be insanely delicious).
Along with being a cook and a food aficionado, Bourdain is a talented storyteller. He loves commenting on how things came to be, what he likes or doesn’t like, and how he thinks things should be done.
Never holding back his punches, he’s known for slinging the truth.
Each recipe is introduced with a short essay and cooking suggestions. Regarding his Portuguese seafood soup:
“I fell in love with this stuff at a Provincetown joint called Cookie’s Tap, which was popular with local fishermen and (allegedly) sports gamblers. I’d never tasted anything like it. It took me years of trying to get it right, and the version below, though an adaptation and not necessarily a faithful re-creation, catches, I think, the spirit and many virtues of the original.
The book is filled with soups, sandwiches, casseroles and bakes — savory meats, more meats and vegetables, the good things. The stuff that childhood memories are made of. The stuff that Bourdain remembers from his past and now wants to pass on to his daughter — all yummy, all there.
This oversized hardcover cookbook is filled with full-color photos of the prepared foods along with candids of Bourdain with family and friends (although he warns you that to protect his daughter’s privacy, you’ll never see her in full).
You’re not going to see magazine-perfect staged food photos. In this one you’re going to see food preparation in all its glory — dirty dishes, spilled wine, and even double chins from laughing and having a good time.
Appetites is a roll-up-your-sleeves and get-down-to-business type of cookbook — the kind that, like a good friend, will always welcome you home. A
— Wendy E.N. Thomas