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No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach    by Anthony Bourdain order for
No Reservations
by Anthony Bourdain
Order:  USA  Can
Bloomsbury, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Anthony Bourdain - chef, author of The Nasty Bits and Kitchen Confidential, and TV host of No Reservations, now brings his fans a photographic overview of his 'life for the last three years: planes, trains, hotels, country inns, longboats, tents, jungle lodges, helicopters ... and the many, many wonderful places in between.' He introduces the show's crew who shared the camaraderie and adventures with him - in fact, the book is filled with the pictures crew members took on their journeys. Bourdain tells readers he hopes we'll get a whiff of their travels from these images and share the smells of Southeast Asia: 'burning joss, jasmine flowers, the seductive reek of durian, pepper oil, fish sauce, and the exhaust from a million motorbikes.' He also offers 'a few helpful nuggets of hard-earned wisdom, useful tactics for travel and eating aroung the world.'

Bourdain divides the journeys into chapters on Asia (China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Tahiti, Singapore, Uzbekistan), Africa (Ghana and Namibia), Beirut (where war broke out and the author speaks sadly of 'The possibilities. The hope. Now only a dream'), Europe (Iceland, Ireland, Paris, Sicily, and Sweden), North America (NY/LA, Las Vegas, Cleveland, Pacific Northwest, Quebec, and Mexico/Texas), and South America (Argentina, Brazil, and Peru). He introduces each place with insightful (often food or people-oriented) impressions and then lets the annotated pictures speak for themselves. After world regions, he picks out intriguing travel topics - Food Porn (Poutine to Salumi), Indigenous Beverages (like the Ashanti apatashi), Bathrooms Around the World (from the best in Japan to the worst in Uzbekistan), and Cooks (a brotherhood just like the Mafia, 'once in, never out.') He finishes by serving up Resources (a list of places to eat around the world), Hazards (photos of 'risks, hazards and parasitic nasties' that are the cost of the adventure), sage Tips for the Traveler, and a list of Equipment to take along. Finally, he shares how it feels to be Coming Home.

At the end of his book, Anthony Bourdain suggests something that rings true: 'Maybe the differences between places are no less - and no more - pronounced than the distance between human hearts.' Browsing through No Reservations made me wish I could share Bourdain's journeys - sounds like he and his crew have tons of fun bridging those differences between places. Barring that, it made me want to get my own itchy feet - and empty stomach - moving towards my choice of destinations (though I will definitely not put warthog on my menu!)

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