Anthony Bourdain -- the writer
Anthony Bourdain was such a fine writer. In my food writing class, we read an excerpt from Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly about how to cook like a pro (all you need in the knife department is "ONE good chef's knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand..."). At least a few students in each class, who only knew Bourdain from television, are hooked and go on to read the entire book. Here's a lovely excerpt from early in Bourdain's memoir about the moment when he recognized his calling in life. It's delicious!
And in that unforgettably sweet moment, that one moment still more alive for me than so many of the other "firsts" that followed - first sex, first joint, first day in high school, first published book - I attained glory. Monsieur Saint-Jour beckoned me over to the gunwale, where he leaned over, reached down until his head nearly disappeared underwater, and emerged holding a single silt-encrusted oyster, huge and irregularly shaped, in his rough, clawlike fist. With a snubby, rust-covered oyster knife, he popped the thing open and handed it to me, everyone watching now, my little brother shrinking away from this glistening, vaguely sexual-looking object, still dripping and nearly alive.
I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour, and with one bite and a slurp wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater . . . of brine and flesh . . . and, somehow . . . of the future.
Everything was different now. Everything.
I'd not only survived - I'd enjoyed .
This, I knew, was the magic I had until now been only dimly and spitefully aware of. I was hooked. My parents' shudders, my little brother's expression of unrestrained revulsion and amazement only reinforced the sense that I had, somehow, become a man. I had had an adventure , tasted forbidden fruit, and everything that followed in my life - the food, the long and often stupid and self-destructive chase for the next thing , whether it was drugs or sex or some other new sensation - would all stem from this moment.
I'd learned something. Viscerally, instinctively, spiritually - even in some small, precursive way, sexually - and there was no turning back. The genie was out of the bottle. My life as a cook, and as a chef, had begun.