Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman had a joint book signing at the Union Square Barnes and Noble tonight, which you can, conveniently, watch here. Or not. I thought it was pretty meh really.The crowd was fawning, but Bourdain seemed rather bored at the end of a long book tour, yet Ruhlman still could barely get a word in. And they kept going on about Food Network stuff, and since I don't watch FN, I didn't know WTF they were talking about most of the time. But I'm a fiend for a signed copy and would have been there just to stand on line for the autographs, so the appearance was just icing anyway.
On first glance, I wouldn't have paid retail for Bourdain's No Reservations book on it's own merits. NB: I happily own, and periodically re-read, his entire non-fiction oeuvre. I won't say Bourdain has jumped the shark, but I will say I don't feel like a lot of care was put into this book. It appears to be a few pages of screen caps and behind the camera snapshots for each episode of the No Reservations tv show with a paragraph or two of introduction. Maybe there's more to it, but I feel like if they would just release all these episodes on DVD, I needn't have bothered really. Except I would have felt like kind of a douche bringing all his other books (except the Les Halles Cookbook, which is my favorite, which I forgot to pack, dammit!!!) for him to sign without ponying up for the new book.
On the other hand, by the time I got to the signing table I was almost 60 pages into Ruhlman's The Element's of Cooking and already knew I was going to need another copy--the one in my hands for the signed editions shelf, and another one to underline and take margin notes and spatter with grease. It's been rhapsodically reviewed ad nauseum already, so suffice it to say in
60 pages of clean, elegant prose, I've already absorbed at least five things I can use on a regular basis. Plus, fwiw, he seemed really nice. If you're reading this blog and aren't my mom or my boyfriend, you need a copy. Or two.