You've only got hours to shop if you're still hunting for a Christmas gift. (Really, you still have shopping left?)
If you've got a cook with an attitude (think "more naughty than nice") -- or at least one that doesn't mind crude and rude in a sense of humor -- any of three new books may strike a fancy. Two of them are by anonymous writers.
A reprint of Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" -- what's billed as an "Insider's Edition" -- is out with Bourdain's handwritten comments, though the notes are few, far between and generally not very insightful. A press release says that 50 pages are annotated. (That includes many lightweight comments such as the one at left.) The handwritten intro -- three pages of scrawl, would have filled less than a single page of type, so "annotation" is a bit of a misnomer. Still, his story of what he calls the "culinary underbelly" holds up amazingly well after 12 years, though a few historical references may be obscure to up-and-coming cooks who are unfamiliar to such references as Hunt and Liddy or Patty Hearst.
Bourdain's memoir of his time in the restaurant biz is always blunt, often crude and definitely opinionated. He set the tone for many other food memoirists that followed.
Tired of Anthony Bourdain? Then perhaps Ruth Bourdain may be to your liking. The anonymous Twitterer, a parody mashup of Anthony Bourdain and Ruth Reichl, has come out with a book, "Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy." The title is a takeoff of Reichl's memoir "Comfort Me with Apples." The book is as irreverant and crude in its humor as Ruth Bourdain's 140-character (or less) thoughts found daily on Twitter. Let's just say that there's very little I could quote from the book for a newspaper blog. Who is Ruth Bourdain? Well, New York magazine and I (as reported a year ago) think it's Robert Sietsema, restaurant critic of the Village Voice.
Have a "Fifty Shades of Grey" fan on your list? "Fifty Shades of Chicken: a parody in a cookbook," may be the gift for you to present. This, too, has a pseudonym for an author, FL Fowler (who else?). The book offers vignettes of Miss Hen, a young "unexplored" chicken, at the mercy of Mr. Blades, the cook, who teaches her the pleasures of being whipped up for dinner. It is a one-note joke carried through 50 recipes, which include Mustard-Spanked Chicken, Hot Rubbed Hen, Extra-Virgin Breasts, Spatchcocked Chicken and many more that will make the occasional cook blush, with food porn pictures of the recipes, plus the occasional Chippendale shot of the cook.
Buyer beware: Choose carefully if you're gifting any of these books.