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Anthony Bourdain recommends

April 1, 2008 |  1:29 pm


Former chef Anthony Bourdain may be best known for his travel and food TV show, but he's also a prolific writer. He's written a restaurant-industry tell-all ("Kitchen Confidential"), a cookbook, a historical fiction, three novels, and three travel and food memoirs.

Jacket Copy asked Bourdain what food writers he likes to read. He immediately said Bill Buford ("Heat"), then paused. For classic food writing, he recommends, above all else, A.J. Liebling's "Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris."

Liebling, who died in 1963, wrote not just about food, but also the press and boxing and politics and war. A longtime New Yorker writer, he published 12 books in his lifetime, which is wonderfully outlined in this memorial by David Remnick. 2004 saw the publication of the collection "Just Enough Liebling," about which the chief complaint seems to be that, even at 560 pages, there still isn't enough.

Having never read Liebling before, I was hungry for a taste. After the jump, you'll find an excerpt on the liberation of Paris in WWII. (It'll just make you want more)

Carolyn Kellogg

For the first time in my life and probably the last, I have lived for a week in a great city where everybody is happy. Moreover, since this city is Paris, everybody makes this euphoria manifest. To drive along the boulevards in a jeep is like walking into some as yet unmade René Clair film, with hundreds of bicyclists coming toward you in a stream that divides before the jeep just when you feel sure that a collision is imminent. Among the bicyclists there are pretty girls, their hair dressed high on their heads in what seems to be the current mode here. These girls show legs of a length and slimness and firmness and brownness never associated with French womanhood. Food restrictions and the amount of bicycling that is necessary in getting around in a big city without any other means of transportation have endowed these girls with the best figures in the world, which they will doubtless be glad to trade in for three square meals, plentiful supplies of chocolate, and a seat in the family Citroën as soon as the situation becomes more normal. There are handsome young matrons with children mounted behind them on their bikes, and there are husky young workmen, stubby little employés de bureau in striped pants, and old professors in wing collars and chin whiskers, all of them smiling and all of them lifting their right hands from the handlebars as they go past. The most frequently repeated phrase of the week is “Enfin on respire. (At last, one breathes!)

                                        --A.J. Liebling