No one is safe in Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 8th June 2010

Anthony Bourdain - Medium RawUS food writer Anthony Bourdain’s new book, Medium Raw, hits Australian shelves today. In his latest offering, the author of Kitchen Confidential roasts the food industry from top to bottom, including the Food Network, the restaurant industry, the US meat industry and McDonalds, and as always, his fellow chefs.

Bourdain also explores the obesity and diabetes epidemic, ‘fat taxes’, the Slow Food movement, nose-to-tail eating and vegetarianism, all in his characteristic blunt, funny, foul-mouthed, no-punches-pulled style.

Cargill receives a particularly severe tongue lashing in Bourdain’s chapter on meat, along with the meat industry as a whole.

An enormous percentage of burger meat in this country now contains scraps from the outer part of the animal that were once deemed sufficiently ‘safe’ only for pet food. But now, thanks to a miracle process pioneered by a company that ‘warms the trimmings, removes the fat in a centrifuge and treats the remaining products with ammonia,’ we don’t have to waste perfectly good ‘beef’ on Fluffy or Boots.

Bourdain also relates the tale of his one-man ‘Black propaganda’ campaign against Ronald McDonald, in an attempt to put his two-and-a-half-year-old daughter off the enticing McDonald’s mascot and the products themselves.

She asks, ‘Is it true that if you eat a hamburger at McDonalds, it can make you a ree-tard?’
I laugh wholeheartedly at this one and give her a hug. I kiss her on the forehead reassuringly. ‘Ha. Ha. Ha. I don’t know where you get these ideas!’
I may or may not have planted that little nugget a few weeks ago, allowing her little friend Tiffany at ballet class to ‘overhear’ it as I pretended to talk on my cell phone. I’ve been tracking this bit of misinformation like a barium meal as it worked its way through the kiddie underground – waiting, waiting for it to come out the other side – and it’s finally popping up now. Bingo.

On the Australian side, as well as giving Steve Irwin a piece of his mind, Bourdain describes Australian chef Matt Moran’s attempt to knock the socks off the prestigious James Beard House with a gala dinner, only to find he has flown in chefs and Australia’s best produce for a normal day’s service to unwitting diners. Coming into the dining room, he is asked, “So, chef. You’re from Australia, right? How come we didn’t have any kangaroo – or, like… koala on the menu?”

As always, Bourdain reserves the most vicious criticism for himself: “A loud, egotistical one-note asshole who’s been cruising on the reputation of one obnoxious, over-testosteroned book for way too long and who should just shut the f-ck up.”

Australian Food News is offering five copies of Medium Raw, courtesy of Allen and Unwin, to the first five readers to write in. [Edit: Congratulations to our five extremely speedy winners.]