The second-worst thing that gonzo chef, writer and intrepid traveler Anthony Bourdain has ever eaten, he claims, was the notoriously stinky fermented shark served to him in Iceland. This chef-turned-author and TV host (Kitchen Confidential, A Cook's Tour ) braves the rigors of the road and many an eclectic cuisine in No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, a companion photo scrapbook to his latest Travel Channel television show.

With just a five-person crew, a couple of cameras and a soupcon of offbeat sensibility, Bourdain and his cohorts reveal the world and its variant cultures through the lens of our universal human need to eat. From Asia to Africa, Paris to Beirut and on to our own great continent, they poke into unusual corners, alleys and the occasional jungle to capture on film an honest and direct recording of the way life is lived in the rest of the world. No Reservations features the crew's own photos, behind-the-scenes glimpses of how the TV show comes together (or not), and Bourdain's bad-boy wit and acerbic commentary via small essays and photo captions. And, as he and his cohorts are travel pros, there's a down-and-dirty critique of the best and worst lavatories worldwide, and a commentary on indigenous beverages (most of which, he says, you must imbibe in order not to offend your host). Zany antics aside, No Reservations amply reflects Bourdain's search for the heart and soul of humanity and, of course, the ultimate roast pig.

 

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