In reach of a well-worn travel narrative, I’m immediately a dry sponge looking for moisture of that exact genre. Heck, that’s why I carried two backpacks in 2008, one on the front for the eleven hardbacks in tow. But since travel narratives tend to remind me of work, I aimed for a topic once or twice removed from the genre while working in Berlin. My nightly escape needed to halt the thoughts of blogging or introspection.
Instead, I went for the food industry, as told by travel TV guru himself, Anthony Bourdain. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, it didn’t inspire the same volume of highlights as the much-later scribed Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook.
Those thousands upon thousands of words delicately trickled sequentially into my Kindle, allowing me to take both books across Germany, Sweden, and most of central Europe. The following are the sections I highlighted and mused about in the margins, many of which I found to be unique sentences, others quite relevant to the constant questions I ponder and pose daily. These being from the Kindle version, I used the percentage of the book complete instead of page numbers to cite my sources.
Excerpts worth …quoting
“I became seduced by the world–and the freedom that television had given me–to travel it as I wished. I was also drunk on a new and exciting power to manipulate images and sound in order to tell stories, to make audiences feel about places I’d been the way I wanted them to feel.” 3%
“I am not a fan of people who abuse service staff. In fact, I find it intolerable. It’s an unpardonable sin as far as I’m concerned, taking out personal business or some other kind of dissatisfaction on a waiter or busboy.” 12%
“What limited me forever were the decisions I made immediately after leaving culinary school. That was my moment as a chef, as a potential adult, and I let it pass. For better or worse, the decisions I made then about what I was going to do, whom I was going to do it with and where, set me on the course I stayed on for the next twenty years…If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel–as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook…Money borrowed at this point in your life so that you can afford to travel and gain work experience in really good kitchens will arguably be better invested than any student loan.” 19-20%
“But I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by yourself, or be trusted with money.” 21%
“What’s the most frightening thing to a child? The pain of being the outsider, of looking ridiculous to others, of being teased or picked on in school. Every child burns with fear at the prospect. It’s a primal instinct: to belong.” 38%
“Norman Mailer described the desire to be cool as a ‘decision to encourage the psychopath in oneself, to explore that domain of experience where security is boredom and therefore sickness and one exists in the present, in that enormous present which is without past or future, memory or planned intention.” 40%
“It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.” 50%
“‘Everything has changed in five years. The only things that stay the same are the platonic ideals. Love. Truth. Loyalty. It was the prettiest thing when nothing is expected of you.’ (David Chang)” 78%
“Frightened people become angry people–as history teaches us again and again. Facing ‘reality’ after a lifetime of doing everything I could to escape it offered no rewards that I could see. Only punishment. No solution presented itself. I couldn’t go back (that way was blocked for sure), and I couldn’t go forward.” 87%
“And, to tell you the truth, I only became angrier when my boss, Philippe, sent me to Tokyo for a week to consult, because now I knew what I was missing. Which was–as anyone who’s been lucky enough to see those places knows–everything. It was as if someone had opened a happy, trippy, groovy, and exotic version of Pandora’s box, allowed me to peek inside, into another dimension, an alternative life, and then slammed the thing shut.” 87%
“I often talk about the ‘Grandma rule’ for travelers. You may not like Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey. It may be overcooked and dry–and her stuffing salty and studded with rubbery pellets of giblet you find unpalatable in the extreme. You may not even like turkey at all. But it’s Grandma’s turkey. And you are in Grandma’s house. So shut the f*** up and eat it. And afterward, say, ‘Thank you, Grandma, why, yes, yes of course I’d love seconds.” 88%
There are affiliate links in this post. I purchased these books.