The Gem of Anthony Bourdain's "Appetites": Scrambled Eggs
Toast your goddamn muffins. Everybody fucks up the muffins.
I took my time browsing Appetites. From a first glance at the cover, it was already apparent that Anthony Bourdain did not want his latest cookbook to be like his others. Appetites wasn't written for a restaurant critic, or a professional chef. It was not intended to impress the hundreds of culinary masterminds Bourdain met, interviewed, and cooked for in his travels to anywhere and everywhere worth eating in the world.
It was for his toughest critic yet, his nine-year-old daughter.
Much like the cover itself, Appetites is an uninhibited, almost chaotic, narration of Bourdain's family life, from how becoming a father changed him and his perceptions of food, to the importance of food in their everyday lives. Unlike his past cookbooks, filled with elaborate recipes worthy of a three Michelin-star restaurant, Appetites was written by a father, for his children.
The chapters sound like the staples of any family menu, with the addition of "Chapter 2: Fight!" or what the Bourdain's eat for their Brazilian Jujitsu training sessions (an açaí bowl, if you were curious).
Appetites is filled with American family classics: macaroni and cheese, burgers, lobster rolls, and other dishes that sound less like the Anthony Bourdain that drank snake-infused liquor with karate masters in Japan, and much more like a 60-year old father attempting to please his nine-year-old picky eater.
Still, his notoriously frank personality shines through. Bourdain has a reason for using (or not using) every ingredient. Lettuce on a burger? "Not a fan," he says. "I'll have my salad on the side." Making eggs Benedict? "Toast your goddamn muffins. Everybody fucks up the muffins."
So it wasn't a surprise when I realized that the most important recipe in the cookbook was the one he wrote first: scrambled eggs. With it, an expletive laden introduction:
On a foodie message board a while back, some insufferable food nerd was commenting on an episode of Jacques Pépin's PBS cooking shows, in which Jacques had cooked scrambled eggs in a nonstick pan and stirred them with a fork. The offended poster worried out loud that the metal fork would be destructive to the nonstick pan's surface.
You know what? If Jacques Pépin tells you this is how you make a fucking egg? The matter is settled, fuck nuts. Now go back to arguing about Bundt cake recipes.
From here on, the reader knows exactly what to expect from the rest of Appetites: simple, straightforward recipes, with a hint of Bourdain's endearing austerity. The cookbook reads like a memoir, with laugh-out-loud paragraphs to accompany each recipe. Bourdain patiently (clearly a result of hours spent in the kitchen with a nine-year old with a short attention span) leads you through the simplest recipes, and though there is nothing particularly new or revolutionary about them, I was just happy to be along for the ride.
Anthony Bourdain's Scrambled Eggs
Here's how to scramble an egg: Break a fresh egg against a flat surface, like a cutting board, and empty it from its shell into a bowl so that you can inspect it for bits of shell, which you should of course remove and discard. Beat it lightly with a fork, dragging the yellow and white through each other. Heat whole butter in a pan. Pour in the egg and work your fork through. Not too vigorously; you want to gently pile the layers as they cook. When the egg is fluffy yet still moist, plate it quickly and serve it immediately. Remember, the eggs will continue to cook out of the pan.