Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Read Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook for Free Online

Book: Read Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook for Free Online
Authors: Anthony Bourdain
Tags: General, Biography & Autobiography, American, Cooking, Regional & Ethnic, Middle Atlantic States
After or whoever I was listening to that year.
    Summers meant barbeques and Wiffle ball games in the backyard. In school, I was not bullied any more than the next kid—and maybe even a little less. I got the bike I wanted for Christmas. My counselor at camp did not molest me.
    I was miserable. And angry.
    I bridled bitterly at the smothering chokehold of love and normalcy in my house—compared to the freedom enjoyed by my less-well-looked-after friends. I envied them their dysfunctional and usually empty houses, their near-total lack of supervision. The weird, slightly scary, but enticing stashes of exotica we’d find in their parents’ secret places: blurry black-and-white stag films, bags of weed, pills…bottles of booze that nobody would notice when missing or slowly drained. My friends’ parents always had other, more important things on their minds, leaving their kids to run wild—free to stay out late, to sleep over when and where they saw fit, to smoke weed in their rooms without fear of being noticed.
    I was pissed about this. How come I couldn’t have that? As I saw it, my parents were the only thing standing between me and a life spent taking full advantage of the times.
    Much later, standing in some particularly bullshit kitchen, more of a saloon than anything resembling a real restaurant, I wasn’t the sort of person to look back in puzzlement and regret, wondering where I might have gone wrong. I never blamed bad choices—like the heroin, for instance—or bad companions for my less than stellar career trajectory. I don’t and never did refer to my addiction as my “disease.” I’d wanted to become a junkie, after all, since I was twelve years old. Call it a character flaw—of which drugs were simply a manifestation, a petulant “fuck you” to my bourgeois parents, who’d committed the unpardonable sin of loving me.
    At any given moment, when I’m honest with myself, I can look back and say that, on balance, I’d probably make exactly the same moves all over again. I know what brought me to those crummy kitchens, the reeking steam tables, the uncleaned deli-slicer, yet another brunch shift—I did.
    Life, even in the bad old days, had been perfectly fair to me. I knew this.
    Even when it was McAssCrack’s Bar and Grill I was working at, I knew I was pretty lucky. Lucky to be alive, given the precarious business of scoring dope every day in the ’80s New York City. Lucky to be in reasonably good health, given what was happening around me—and all the people who came up with me who weren’t around anymore. There was even love in my life through it all, however improbable—a criminal partnership of long standing.
    As much as I hated standing there in the bad times, pre-poaching eggs for service, letting them slip off the spoon into a bus tub of ice water, I couldn’t blame anybody. Like I said, I made my choices. One after the other.
    Then again, I could blame my dad, I guess. For all the joy he brought me when he came home with the Sgt. Pepper album. Or Disraeli Gears . An argument could be made, I guess, that this kind of exposure at an early age could lead one to an appetite for distraction—if not destruction. And maybe nine years old was a little young to see Dr. Strangelove —to find out that the world was surely going to end in a nuclear apocalypse (and soon). And that it would be funny when it happened. Perhaps this contributed to the nihilistic worldview I’d adopt later as a world-weary eleven-year-old.
    If they ever find me with a crawl space full of dead hookers, I’ll be sure to point the finger at Dad—and Stanley Kubrick.
    But if we’re playing the blame game? Top of the list for “it’s all your fault—you made me this way!” goes to two children’s classic films: The Red Balloon and Old Yeller .
    What exactly was the message of The Red Balloon anyway? Every time our teachers didn’t show up, they’d haul out the projector and show us this supposedly heartwarming

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