Breaking the law, I know, but my first Cannonball review shall be… a cook-book. But before I get accused of cheating and ex-communicated from Cannonball Church, if my plan was to tackle something easy… boy, did I fuck up. I had to cook, savages. I mean, can’t analyze the plot or setting or character development, because, well, there isn’t any. So you have to review the recipes. There is no, “Does the Waygu beef become the man it always wanted to be”, or “Does the affair with the duck’s tears pan out over the years?”, setting and character have no place in this instructional text, no sir.
So I tackled it suchly: this will be a two-part review of Anthony Bourdain’s Appetites. First, I will review a selection of the recipes therein, but not all of them. I don’t love you that much. Or have that much time-slash-attention span to cook and review them all. Second, the essays he peppers throughout, which I dunno, is standard for all these trendy Celebrity Chef cookbooks, I guess? or something.
Let’s get to it. The Food.
The first recipe I made out of the book was the Mac and Cheese. And I will level with you: It’s Mac and Cheese. The cheese covered the macaroni; it fit in bowls. Seriously, there was nothing really special about it, and if you can’t melt cheese on noodles you are probably not the type to be buying cookbooks. I can’t even figure out why you would put this in a cookbook other than just making a list of things you like to eat. Cheesy Noodles is never a disappointment; but getting a book for this recipe sure as shit is. Thank god there are other recipes.
The second one I made was the Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts. Now, these are fucking delicious. Sweet, spicy, salty Bourdain calls them addictive and he isn’t wrong. We ate all of them in one sitting. But the other half of the reason we ate them all in one sitting is that the recipe only ends up making two bowls of nuts; and have you ever tried to buy nuts in bulk? Fucking shit nuts are expensive! I blew twenty bucks for those two bowls of salty nuts. Truth, I did fuck up the first batch and had to start over, but still; If you are thinking of making these as a party treat or a fancy dinner or something, be aware. Nuts are fucking expensive.
Next I made Roast Leg of Lamb with Flageolets. Those are beans, by the way. Having never really cooked lamb before, I really didn’t know what to expect. The end result however, was spectacular. Lamb is great; it’s my newest favourite meat. Difficultly level, mild to moderate, you need to chop some vegetables and know how to rinse and soak beans. But it makes you look like a champ with only slightly more effort than your average Mac and Cheese. I wringed my hands over the meat and kept opening the over to check it, which means the Lamb probably didn’t cook it well as it could have been. But 10/10, will eat again. And I bet it cost less than those fucking nuts.
I also made the Mortadella and Cheese sandwich; by accident, because the recipe again is literally melt cheese on shit. Look, I get that it is Bourdain’s book of things he likes to eat, and having a range of difficulties for people to try in your recipes is not a bad strategy. But Jesus Christ, a four-year old can melt cheese on shit. I work for my money Bourdain, don’t waste my time.
Those are the ones I made and that may not be a great cross section of recipes available in the book, but I made what I made and you can shove your complaints up your bum-bum.
In all of his shows, every episode, Anthony Bourdain complains about “Hipsters” ruining his precious little favourite things; Coffee, cooking, music, New York. And that continues in this book; most of the essays are rants against the “Rules” of new chef culture and cooking. But, and especially if you have heard the same rants from Bourdain in every goddamn episode of his shows, it gets so fucking repetitive. And hypocritical: he lays into whatever technique or trend he doesn’t like condemning it as ridged hipster shit, and then goes on to write essays like “The Only Way to Eat a Steak”, or “How to Make Thanksgiving Dinner the RIGHT way”. You are fooling no one when you bemoan how all these new “rules” of the trend du jour is ruining food, followed up by a pull out poster on “ The One True way to east a burger”. Anthony Bourdain is, for all his vitriol and spite against gentrification and such, the goddamn King of the Hipsters. There is a ju-jitsu section in his fucking cookbook. There is an Acai-bowl. There is artsy fuck-photographs of him in perfectly clean hunting gear stomping on sandwiches. A picture of him in a band t-shirt and torn-up jeans eating a meatball sub in a hotel bathroom. Delightfully avant-garde photographs of plates with the food already eaten. How ironic. How novel. How anti-Instagram.
And that is the thing with this book: It’s a fucking hipster cookbook to show off how cool you are to all the other barely employed kitchen staff working on the line. It’s a coffee table book to show at your next soiree while you mix your signature cocktails you serve with PBR because you are a poser. And I hoist that flag high: I am all of those things, my children, and much more! I drink that kool-aid. I eat it up with a spoon. And if you do too you will buy this book and enjoy it as much as I do. But cut the bullshit. I mean, you don’t even need to buy recipe books anymore. That is what Google is for.