50 Culinary Tidbits From Anthony Bourdain’s “Appetites”

Anthony Bourdain can do no wrong. The opinionated punk of the culinary world simultaneously rocks gray hair and tats, married (and recently separated from) an Italian MMA fighter, made becoming a father at 50 look cool, and eats things most people can’t pronounce (much less identify) on-camera in countries all over the world.

In his new cookbook, Appetites, Bourdain returns to basics, inspired in large part by his daughter, Ariane. “I feel uncontrollable urges to smother the people I love with food,” he states in the introduction. Along with entertaining anecdotes (i.e. getting beaten up by a kid named Skippy), Bourdain explains the basics – from breakfast and burgers to side dishes and sauces – for those of us who haven’t had four decades’ worth of cooking experience. The New Yorker’s casual tone, unrelenting snark, and constant F-bombs make the reader feel like they’re kickin’ it with Tony in the kitchen of a greasy spoon.

We pulled 50 of the most helpful, unusual, and downright weird tips and tricks from Appetites, though this shouldn’t discourage you from checking out the book. Even if you never cook one of the recipes, the stories and food porn make it a gluttonous read.


– Do not flip the omelet. Do not flip the omelet. Do not flip the omelet.

– For optimal crisp without burning, cook bacon in the oven.

– Want to make eggs Benedict for a crowd? Keep hollandaise sauce warm in a thermos and float pre-poached eggs in an ice bath.


– Caesar salad is Mexican, not Italian, by inception.

– Iceberg lettuce is nothing to be ashamed of.

– Canned tuna is better than fresh tuna.

Also: Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier With “The Dude Diet” Cookbook


– Properly prepared tomato soup should taste like “comfort, security, and recently dried tears.”

– New England clam chowder is the only chowder.

– If your hot borscht doesn’t look “violent, almost bloody”, you’ve done something terribly wrong.

– Happiness is a bowl of spicy noodle soup that leaves you sweaty.

Buddae Jjigae


– Sandwiches exist because silverware, plates, and tables are pains in the ass.

– Two pieces of bread can contain multitudes–but only if the bread is well-matched to, and can withstand, its fillings.

– Forget terrorists; America’s one true enemy is the club sandwich made with three slices of bread.

– A sausage and pepper hero is one hot mess you should never refuse.

– For lower-maintenance (and tastier) grilled cheese sandwiches, coat the outside of the bread with mayo.

– Liver [pause for dry heave] is a thing. A thing that Bourdain really seems to like.

– Bourdain’s mortadella and cheese sandwich is the sexiest hunk of meat you’ve ever seen.

Party 101:

– All party food, whether plated or not, must be balance-able.

– Party food that fucks up women’s lipstick is forbidden.

– Don’t sabotage your guests’ hopes and dreams of getting laid with extravagant amounts of onion, garlic, or other odoriferous eats.

– Plan your appetizer ratios accordingly: 6 – 10 appetizers per person for appetizer-only parties or 3 – 4 per person if you’re serving dinner as well.

– Keep a stash of pigs-in-a-blanket in your freezer at all times in case of emergency.

– Average grocery store eggs are better for deviling than the farm fresh variety.

– You, too, can make a “demented poultry porcupine” the centerpiece of your party! Bourdain will show you how!

Hamburger Rules:

– Hamburger meat matters. It should be fatty and minimally adorned. Bonus points if you hand-grind it.

– Brioche buns and grease make bad bedfellows. Use potato buns for maximum absorption.

– When it comes to cheese and condiments, the processed classics are best. Heinz and Velveeta are household names for a reason.

– When it comes to burger toppings, more is not better. Conduct a cost/benefit analysis before adding anything.

Sunday Gravy with Sausage and Rigatoni


– Lobster has no business burrowing in macaroni and cheese.

– Truffle oil is not the same as truffles; in fact, it’s a petroleum product. Steer clear.

– Even if you are completely inept in the kitchen, you can make Spaghetti alla Bottarga. Trust us.

– Lasagne tastes best on day two. Make ahead.

Fish and Seafood:

– Ensuring your seafood is fresh is half the battle.


– If Bourdain had his own country, you’d be denied citizenship until you mastered the art of roasting a chicken.

– The two-day delayed gratification of Korean fried chicken is well worth it.

– Whatever you do, don’t overcook the duck.

Korean Fried Chicken


– Clear your calendar three days prior to Turkey Day for food prep.

– One bird is not enough. You, brave holiday warrior, must make a “stunt” turkey and a “business” turkey.

– If you think you’ve put enough butter in your mashed potatoes, you’re wrong.

– In no dish shall there appear even one fucking marshmallow.

– Brussels sprouts will kick a salad’s ass any day of the week. Bourdain’s are made with bacon.


– Buy the highest quality meat from a good butcher. Do not settle for the grocery store’s meat selection.

– Do not be fooled by the labels “grass fed”, “American Wagyu”, or “Kobe”. What you want in a steak is marbling and fat.

– Your meat needs rest–a full 5 minutes–before it can perform in your mouth.

– Coca-Cola is an ideal braising liquid.

– If you must set something on fire, make it a calf’s liver.

– For another kind of heat, try ma po tripe.

Side Dishes:

– Eat your veggies, but do so with plenty of olive oil or butter.

Stocks, Sauces, and Dressings:

– Stock is made from simmering the leftover bits, pieces, and bones of your meal prep. It can be used in future soups and sauces. Freeze it in ice cube trays for up to three months.


– Bourdain doesn’t do dessert. He’d rather have Stilton cheese and port post-meal. This may be the only disappointment of this cookbook, but it’s a major one. For some of us, only a sweet happy ending will do.

 Photos: Bobby Fisher.