Bourdain may be my favorite food personality in the English speaking world. For the French world it would be Maité and Tim Mältzer in the German one.
I loved Kitchen Confidential and all his TV shows. When I had a layover in Singapore, his The Layover episode there was the blueprint for my stay. However, I was a little bit skeptical about a cookbook, the guy has not been cooking for a living for a long time. However after reading some interviews he did to promote it in which he describes it as “the recipes that I cook for my family” I was intrigued and when my wife asked me for a Christmas gift suggestion…so I ended up with it.
First, even if you do not cook a recipe from it, the writing is very entertaining. You hear Bourdain talking to you, do not worry, you get clear instructions and ingredient list, but the introduction to each recipe is in the typical ironic deadpan Bourdain delivery.
I decided to try the most American of all his recipes: Mac and Cheese.
First impression is that it is very cheesy: 500 g of cheese for 500 g of pasta. It is not a bad thing, however since the dominant cheese is parmesan, the end result is very salty, too salty for my taste. Now I hear Bourdain answering this by saying “That is the point your moron! Mac and cheese should be salty.” but it was too much for me. My wife found that there was a slight bitterness present that was not pleasant. She also told me that although it was good you did not feel all the work that was behind the dish (Bourdain : “You European elitist!”)To be fair, we and our son ate the whole thing. However, if I would redo it, I would cut the amount of Parmesan in the mixture by at least a third and replace it by another less salty cheese.
On a final note, I must say that following Bourdain’s instructions I managed to make the silkiest, smoothest and most clump free béchamel of my life (and I cooked quite a few).
All in all a decent recipe, but it would need some work to cook it to my family’s taste.