Sunday, September 16, 2018

Review: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, is part memoir and part candid account of the restaurant business in America. Well, not the entire United States, but rather the parts the late Mr. Bourdain fraternized in. It is a no holes barred account of his evolution into a tall, handsome celebrity chef from a gangly, entitled kid - the many adventures (some very distasteful ones) he had, the incredible characters he met and the first hand account of what really goes on behind the scenes in a typical restaurant.

The book is very easy to read. You feel like the author is narrating the story to you directly. And if you are familiar with his voice, the imaginary narration is in his voice. Mr. Bourdain definitely had a flair for the written word apart from his culinary skills.

The book is quite fascinating to the individual interested in the culinary world. Even if you have a passing interest in how food actually gets to your table in any restaurant, you would be fascinated by how hard the business is and how certain unsavory practices take place behind the kitchen.

One of the most interesting things I learned was the striking similarity between a well run kitchen headed by an ass kicking chef and an army unit. The chef expects nothing less than a soldierly obedience from his staff, especially his line cooks. The staff need to be really tough - capable of handling abuse and withstanding pressure. The manner in which the kitchen must handle a growing stream of customers on a busy night in a restaurant with a 20 page menu is reminiscent of a soldiering unit defending their position in a steadfast manner against the onslaught of a ravenous enemy, no pun intended. As a student of business, the grim accounts of failures in the restaurant world reminded me of the Startup scene of today. If you remove the technology part, the struggles of a restaurant and the success rate in the Industry reminded me of the typical challenges of a tech start-up.

I have decided to read other books by the author, my appetite whetted by this one. I have been Anthony Bourdain's fan for a few hours, having watched No Reservations, A Cooks tour and Parts Unknown. It was quite a shock to learn of his demise, that too through a suicide. It felt like a personal loss. Reading this book was a nice way of remembering who he was and what he stood for. May his soul rest in peace.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Review: Tuesdays with Morrie

Tuesdays with Morrie Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

We all need a reminder, a refresher course on what the most important things in life are. And yes, you have heard it many times before, it's NOT money. And yes, it gets boring to hear the same thing over and over again, from every body who has some claim to wisdom. However, if it's coming from a person on his or her death bed, it's worthwhile to pay attention. I am not going to criticize the quality of writing or the saccharine content in the book - those are irrelevant. I think it was worth reading this book for two reasons:
1. The beautiful relationship between the author, Mitch Albom and his professor, Morrie
2. The life lessons - No matter how cliched they are, I think I need to hear them time and again.

My favorite bit from the book was on Marriage:

"There are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage: If you don't respect the other person, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don't know how to compromise, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. If you can't talk openly about what goes on between you, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don't have a common set of values in life, you're gonna have a lot of trouble. Your values must be alike"

Eternal peace to the soul of Professor Morrie Schwartz.

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Review: Rendezvous with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Arthur C. Clarke is considered one the best writers of Science Fiction. After reading my first Clarke novel, book 1 of the Rama Series, I know why. It is the perfect blend of Science and Fiction and the writing is superb. The plot itself is thrilling and so suspenseful that you want to find out what happens next. Genuinely unputdownable.

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Monday, August 6, 2018

Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely worth a few ****s of mine

When I started reading this book, I was quite annoyed with the liberal dosage of the f word and the s word. I am the kind of person who drops in these words during normal conversation quite often, but reading it in a book seemed annoying for some reason. But I carried on. And soon, I realized that besides the hype over his using fuck and shit, the book has real substance and a refreshing honesty. It is a book for the generation that is hooked to technology, has abundance of opportunities and a general sense of purposeless-ness. What the author has to offer has been said many many times before in many different ages by scores of great men and women, but the way he says is quite unique and packs a punch. Perhaps, the f word is there to attract readers. It is a very competitive world and fortunes are made on the art of capturing user attention. Whatever be the reason, I am so glad I read this book and that it made a positive impression on me. As the author says, from your limited supply of ****s, spare a few for this book.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Difficult Times

Abba, why do we wear a skull cap while we pray,
And why do we need to turn that way?
Why is that creature haraam?

And why do we fast during Ramadaan?

Abba, you asked me to pray 5 times a day,
Never to eat pork, smoke, drink and go astray.
You taught me to live and let live.
And that the only jihad to fight, was the one within me.
Did I not hold my promise to you?
Then why does Allah test me so much for doing so?

And why don't they get it?
Why do they call me a terrorist? A fanatic?
They, with their crosses, stars and sacred marks on the forehead
They, with or without faith,
Why do they call me a traitor? A liberal? A coward?
They, with skull caps like mine and guns and grenades
Why don't they get it that I just want to live and let live?

I can't please all of them.
I just want to be who I am.
To just live out the life that the one God gave me. 
It is so frustrating to live with so many labels. 
So hard when your faith is tested everyday, 
Would you blame me, my dear Abba,
If I strapped a bomb around my neck, and blew myself away?