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Book Review

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Book Review: Kitchen Confidential

Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

The book reviewed this week was written by Anthony Bourdain, the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York (or at least that is where he was in 2000 when the book was released). Now in soft cover version (ISBN 0-06-093491-3) the back cover reviews claim that the writing is done in the style of Hunter S. Thomson, Iggy Pop and a little Jonathan Swift. With that recommendation, I had to pick it up!

Chef Bourdain, in the preface, goes to great pains to explain that he was not lifting the lid on the boiling pot of the restaurant business, but was writing about life in a kitchen, the way it does happen, and what’s more was writing it in “Kitchenese, the secret language of cooks, instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dunked french-fries for a summer job or has suffered under the despotic rule of a tyrannical chef or a boobish owner.” With that sort of beginning I warmed to him immediately and my anticipation simmered.

In true restaurant fashion, author-chef Bourdain has cut his book into several courses, ending up with desserts and then coffee and a cigarette. (Obviously the book was not written in current day Thailand!) It is early on in the first course that Bourdain relates his reason for taking on a lifetime of the kitchen. Was this a long held ambition? No it was not - he (and the rest of the kitchen staff) witnessed the number one chef having sex with a patron behind the kitchen. That such pleasures were available to those at the top of the culinary tree was enough. He embarked upon a career in the kitchen!

The style of writing is indeed racy (and sexy) and ‘hip’ describing his knife-work class at the Culinary Institute of America (acronym CIA, a nice touch) as “the culinary version of the Manson family.” And other gems like “God protects fools and drunks, and we were certainly foolish and drunk much of the time.”

The difference between chefs as ‘artists’ and Mexican dishwashers is spelled out, as is the reason why the Mexicans get hired as cooks and the culinary artists do not! Similarly spelled out is the reason why you don’t order the Monday Special seafood item and the ominous report from this experienced chef that, “When I’m hungry for mussels, I’ll pick the good looking ones out of your order.” He does not eat restaurant mussels at other times unless he knows the chef personally. Likewise Hollandaise sauce which he describes as, “a veritable petri dish of bio-hazards” or that the makings for discount sushi are one step in front of the cat food people.

The review copy was made available by Bookazine and should be available in all good bookstores. It was a most readable book, with much information about cooks and cooking I did not know before - but sometimes guessed. It made me chuckle. It made me wary of what and where I eat next. It will do the same for you. It was a damn good read. The RRP was 595 baht.

Music CD Reviews:  Hawkwind Yule Ritual

by Mott the Dog

4 Stars

Nobody would of ever dared believe that when Dave Brock and his merry band of hippies, buskers, street musicians, poets, and hangers on got together in 1969, that they could ever have gone on and made such an impact on the world of Rock ‘n’ Roll. They influenced generations of musicians, creating their own genre of Rock, inventing what was to become known as Space/Rock or Stoner/Rock, still practiced these days by mainstream bands such as “Monster Magnet” or “Foo Man Choo”. They had a profound influence on Ambient Music, became one of the most sampled bands in rock history, or most unbelievable of all, they are still going strong over thirty three years later. Albeit, only Dave Brock remains from the founder members, and even he left once, although only for one European tour.

Over the years countless musicians have come and gone (many returning to the ranks three or four times), some making little impact and some leaving a lasting impression. Not least their dancer Stacia, who, although always having difficulty dancing to the pulsating rhythms from the music, had no such problem in getting her kit off, much to the delight of the audience. Hawkwind were very popular on the European College Gig Circuit, making Stacia the first totally naked girl that many young spotty male students ever saw. Although Stacia had no musical input, she still left a lasting impression on many a young mind.

Their influence on today’s Nu-Heavy Metal scene should not be underestimated either. After their bass player was sacked mid tour of the United States of America in 1975, he came home to the United Kingdom to immediately form the heaviest metal band of all time, a certain “Motorhead”. That bass player was, of course, the one and only Lemmy. Others to have made big impressions have been poet and lead singer Bob Calvert, who sadly died in the Eighties. However, he had completely transformed the band when it imploded in the late Seventies. Nik Turner put saxophone, flute, and most importantly a sense of fun back into rock music, just as everybody was actually starting to take themselves too seriously. The drummer from Cream, and arguably the finest drummer of his time, Ginger Baker also found himself warming the drum stool for a while in the Eighties. In 1972 they even had a hit single “Silver Machine”, which in that heady summer was only kept off the top spot by Alice Cooper’s “Schools Out”.

So, not a bad history then. But what of today? Well, the band is still going, in actual fact with so many ex-members, there are two Hawkwinds. One is led by Hawkwind’s original leader Dave Brock with a group of hired hands (drummer Richard Chadwick has been with Dave Brock for nearly twenty years, but is still considered to be a new boy by some of the fans). The other turned into “Nik Turner’s Space Odyssey, the Hawkwind Experience”, which ‘sometimes’ has as many as four of the original classic line-up.

Sadly there have been no new recordings out of any Hawkwind camp since the winter of 1997, Distant Horizons, and to be honest that wasn’t much cop. As well as losing their minds over the years, Hawkwind also lost all control of their back catalogue. There are over 300 CDs of various quality floating about on the shop floor, but, as is proved by the inside of this album’s cover, with its list of twelve current Hawkwind fan clubs, there is still tremendous interest in the music.

So what do this bunch of late fifties, early sixties musicians do? Well, of course, you milk them for all it’s worth by releasing a live album once a year from your Christmas concert. Yes, all you old hippies out there, horror of horrors, just like Cliff Richard or Status Quo, they rub the old machine down once a year for a Christmas jaunt round the country to fill up the coffers once again. But is it any good I hear you ask? Well, judging by this collection recorded on December 29th, 2000 at the London Astoria by the Dave Brock version of Hawkwind, I would say absolutely. What you get is over two hours of wonderfully varied Hawkwind music, a round up of most of their greatest hits including a song from their first album to a new one. Famous author and long time Hawkwind collaborator Michael Moorcock phoning in his parts from across the Atlantic. (Although surprisingly Silver Machine is not dragged out. Or was it played at the concert but left off the album? Or is Dave Brock still playing it cool?)

Many surprise guests coming on to play from Hawkwind’s past, and possible future (a certain Jez Hugget takes a bow for taking the wind instrument role on this recording), all played by consummate musicians that they certainly were not at the beginning of this journey, played with far more enthusiasm than by lesser mortals who drag themselves around the Rock ‘n’ Roll circuit twelve months of the year. This was definitely not the way things were planned when it all started out in Notting Hill London 1969, but a positive way for the nice people from Hawkwind to spend their twilight years; and like Santa, they only have to work at Christmas.

Happy Christmas Everybody, Mott the Dog.

Musicians on this recording

Dave Brock - Guitars, Keyboards, Vocals

Alan Davey - Bass, Keyboards, Vocals

Richard Chadwick - Drums Vocals

Ron Tree - Vocals, Bass

Harvey Bainbridge - Bass, Keyboards

Simon House - Violin

Tim Blake - Keyboards, Vocals

Jerry Richards - Guitars

Keith Kniveton - EMS, Synthesizers

Jez Huggett - Saxophone, Flute

Captain Rizz - Vocals

Michael Moorcock - Telephone Vocals


Electronic Introduction


Money Tree

Space is Deep

Flying Doctor

Warrior at the Edge of Time

Angels of Death

High Rise

Damage of Life


Sonic Attack


Motorway City

Hurry on Sundown

Spirit of the Age

Assassins of Allah

To contact Mott the Dog email: [email protected]