Lucky Dip – Friday, August 19th, 2011

My evil plan to shame restaurants into improving their websites is growing. Others are catching on and joining in. Excellent. [Torontoist]

Anthony Bourdain is at it again, spouting vitriol against people he thinks he’s better than, this time Paula Deen. But he might have picked on the wrong lady, because Deen doesn’t strike me as someone who backs down. And unlike other Bourdain victims who have tricked him into rolling over and showing his belly by sending him a fruit basket, Paula Deen is not taking his shit. Maybe Bourdain should stick to picking on dead people (like his assaholic comments about deceased musician Stiv Bators) – at least they can’t fight back. [New York Post]

Milk better than water for kids? During the years where I mostly did nutrition writing, I always made a point of asking who paid for a study that seemed particularly biased. Oh, Dairy Farmers of Canada, you guys need to clean up your act and stop trying to trick people into thinking that they need milk to be healthy. No matter how many studies you pay for and try to present as fact, the truth is against you. [Globe and Mail]

Seven tips for chefs on Twitter – please to note #7. Seriously, stop retweeting every nice thing someone says about you. [Grub Street Boston]

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When is a Badass Not a Badass?

Medium Raw
Anthony Bourdain

Harper Collins, 281 pages, 2010, $28.99CA

I was surprised, upon reading Medium Raw, to see that the sharp-clawed Anthony Bourdain had become a bit of a pussycat. And a timid one at that.

Bourdain has made a whole career out of being a tell-it-like-it-is, in-your-face kind of guy. He shit-talked people in his industry publicly, letting his feelings and opinions be well-known. And who knows if it’s the wisdom of age or some joyous glow of fatherhood, but many chapters of Medium Raw are Bourdain not just backing down, but rolling over and presenting his belly for a scratch. He once ripped apart Rachael Ray. But she sent him a fruit basket, and now they’re pals. He super shit-talked Alice Waters, but after meeting her (an event that scared him, probably because he expected her to call him out on his shit-talking) now admits that she’s probably (mostly) right about where our food comes from and changes that need to be made to our food system.

He still shit talks vegetarians, but even that is met with a softer edge, as he instead directs his anger at the factory farm systems that leave us eating burgers full of actual shit.

I guess I’m just trying to get my head around this kinder, gentler Bourdain, but it’s not jibing for me. Tony was the guy you could always count on to say what other people were thinking but were too afraid to say. Which is something I pride myself on doing, so maybe I’m just feeling a little betrayed that Tony has crossed to the other side.

He still calls people out – a whole chapter of Medium Raw is called Heroes and Villains, and he lists a pile of reasons for each call. And the chapter Alan Richman is a Douchbag has made the rounds online with food writers from all over taking sides. But I can’t help wondering – will Bourdain’s next book include a story about how he’s now friends with Richman because the GQ food writer sent him a a fruit basket?

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