Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Appetites A Cookbook’ is a winner
I love cookbooks. I probably own a couple hundred plus those I inherited from my parents. I also have boxes and binders of my mother’s recipes.
The key to a good cookbook is the aha moment. The moment you realize, “I can do that,” after reading a recipe.
Those are my go-to cookbooks. The ones with folded page corners, worn pages, or food stains.
Anthony Bourdain, the Gonzo journalist of the food world, wrote such a cookbook, “Appetites A Cookbook.” My daughter gave me a copy for Christmas.
This is not a run of the mill cookbook filled with typical food porn and formulaic recipes. “Appetites” is entertaining. That is unusual. Cookbooks are not supposed to be entertaining.
Bourdain writes in the vernacular, sprinkling in some profanity, and other NSFW comments. The photography is artful, a cross between humor, slasher food porn, and mess. Arty mess. Cooking is a messy task.
There are how-to instructions, simply explained. Most of the recipes are easy to replicate. Others can be replicated if you can find the ingredients. In Chicago, that is not a problem.
The recipes include the run of the mill, like meatloaf, omelets, pasta, basic tomato sauce, burgers, steak, and side dishes. There are also some of Bourdain’s personal favorites from his travels around the world. Portuguese squid and octopus soup, laksa, and budae jjigae (Korean army stew) are a few examples.
This is a book for people who cook. Bourdain assumes readers have basic equipment like heavy bottomed pots and pans, sheet pans, cast iron skillets, or other cookware and utensils people who cook own. This is not a bad thing. If you cook or want to cook well and often, you need the proper equipment.
The dishes from his travels are interesting. You can amaze your family and friends with them. One example is Do chua with herbs, scallions, sprouts, and eggs. It is a Vietnamese quick pickle salad. It is full of vibrant color that begs you to eat it.
There is a section on stocks, sauces, and dressings. It contains the basics everyone should know how to make along with octopus stock and an unusual mixed fruit chutney.
If you love to cook, want to put more interesting food on the table, and need an easy guide, “Appetites” is the cookbook you should own. Even if you only added a few of the recipes to your repertoire, it is well worth the price.