While I had visited the awe-inspiring, life-changing mother of all fish markets before, this time I would be going with an expert. The plan was to meet Togawa-san at his restaurant, run over to Tsukiji to do his day's shopping, then return to his restaurant and eat myself silly. I've written about Tsukiji in the past, and used up most of the superlatives I can think of. Just take my word for it: It's the Taj Mahal, the Colosseum, the Great Pyramid of seafood. All that unbelievable bounty, spread across acres and acres of concrete, wriggling and spitting from tanks, laid out in brightly colored rows, carefully arranged like dominoes in boxes, skittering and clawing from under piles of crushed ice, jockeyed around on fast-moving carts, the smell of limitless possibilities, countless sensual pleasures--I am inadequate to the task of saying more. There is nowhere else. Believe me.
In A Cook's Tour, Anthony Bourdain embarks on a trip around the world in search of the fabled "perfect meal." While he ultimately comes to understand, through his travels, writing and pondering, that such a thing is an evanescent dream, the journey is really where the fun is found. From Mexico to Vietnam, from Russia to Cambodia, from Japan to France and beyond, Bourdain experiences not only great meals, but life-changing interactions with the people that he visits. And there are some near death experiences as well.
Bourdain, if you're familiar, smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish, and personally, I wouldn't have him any other way. He won the "sexy bitch" award in my over 50 bracket a longgg time ago, and it only compounds my ridiculous lust that the man is an impressive writer.
Each chapter deals with a specific location on Tony's trip around the globe, and the way he describes the food is just magical. I could see it clearly in my mind, brightly colored and sparkling (and sometimes slimy and disgusting). I could smell the smells, hear the people, and just generally fell into the world he creates in this foodie/travel memoir.
I enjoyed Kitchen Confidential, his first book, very much when I read it a few months ago. However, this book is heads above the first. The writing is much more mature, and he fully explores the cultures and foods he samples on his travels. He has a deference for culture that guides his tastes and wanderings, and for that I certainly applaud him.
If you have any interest in food or travel writing, definitely give A Cook's Tour a try, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.