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On Instagram, Anthony Bourdain’s bio reads: “Enthusiast. Frequent flyer. Used to cook for a living.” For those new to the Bourdain brand of self-effacement, this is exactly the kind of reserved name-tag description you’d expect from the chef-turned-writer-turned-enthusiast, who has for years referenced his previous life in front of the fryer.
Fact of the matter: Bourdain’s job description — he eats, he travels, he writes — is indulgent in all the ways many of us wish ours were. The current season of Parts Unknown, for example, follows Bourdain to Vietnam, to Nashville, to Sichuan Province and to London. (And that’s just the first half.) He dines with President Obama; he throws a party with Jack White. Yet, despite having done these things since 2005, when No Reservations debuted on the Travel Channel, Bourdain remains one of the most charismatic, down-to-earth personalities on television. Maybe a little rough around the edges. But would we really like him if he posted pretty pictures of piña coladas and boasted about all the things he’s done, people he’s talked to and places he’s been?
Next week, Bourdain will publish Appetites, his first cookbook in over a decade. The cover features art by Ralph Steadman, the British artist who rose to fame for his work with the late writer Hunter S. Thompson. The recipes include the “Bodega Sandwich,” “The Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts,” “Portuguese Squid and Octopus Soup.” The last page is a double foldout detailing Bourdain’s treatise on the perfect burger — it’s in comic-strip form.
“There is nothing remotely innovative about the recipes in this book,” Bourdain writes in the introduction. “If you are looking for a culinary genius to take you to the Promised Land of next-level creativity, look elsewhere. That ain’t me.” Instead, what you will find in Appetites is the same addictive quality found in all of Bourdain’s work: a refreshing curiosity for what’s out there, and the implication that anybody can have it. On shelves October 25.