Anyone who’s read this blog knows that I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain. I like his attitude, I like his outlook on food and I like how he writes. So, it should come as no surprise that I was also looking around to get his Les Halles Cookbook. My wife and I went to a closing Borders and I immediately went to the food section looking for anything of interest, but especially Bourdain books. I didn’t walk away with his cookbook, but I did get the follow up to Kitchen Confidential called Medium Raw which I’m excited about. Then, as if by magic, Bourdain’s Les Halles book showed up on my doorstep from Amazon. I really had to think, “Did I do some late night ordering after a few beers?”
No. In fact, the book was actually my very first piece of Monkeying Around The Kitchen fan mail. My mom saw how much I enjoyed Kitchen Confidential and picked it up for me, so thanks Mom! I was really jazzed and, as I mentioned, found a recipe that didn’t involve making stock to cut my teeth on. It’s not that I don’t want to make stock–I really do–it’s just that I haven’t had the time to get the ingredients and get them simmering.
But, before I cooked, I read the intro sections and was not disappointed. Bourdain was not mellowed in any way, but his point was very clear: you CAN cook this food. You might screw up, you might throw away entire meals, but you can cook this food. It’s basically peasant food. He also stressed the importance of having a good knife, making your own stock, preparing not only a shopping list but also your cooking area and ingredients before starting and keeping a good attitude about all of this. I should also explain that Les Halles is a French restaurant in NYC that Bourdain is (I believe) still the executive chef for. He was there when her wrote Confidential and still returns every now and then when his traveling schedule for No Reservations allows.
So, how did my first experience cooking French food go? Well, you’ll just have to wait a few hours to find out. Let’s just say that I’m glad Bourdain explained how failure is a big part of the game.