Tag Archives: Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential, circa 1933

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Orwell’s squalor-porn masterpiece “Down and Out in Paris and London”  was a precursor to Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”.   Both deal in the frisson that comes from learning the dirty origins of  high-class restaurant food.  Orwell has been revered as THE objective dry-eyed chronicler of modern life by writers like Andrew Sullivan, so it surprised me to read melodramatic passages such as this:

“The cook had a crise de nerfs at six and another at nine; they came on so regularly that one could have told the time by them.  She would flop down on the dustbin, begin weeping hysterically, and cry out that never, no never had she thought to come to such a life as this; her nerves would not stand it; she had studied music at Vienna; she had a bedridden husban to support, etc. etc.”

It reads like a storyboard for a cartoon, I can picture a little cloud of dust rising up when the cook flops down on the dustbin.   Reminds me a little of Catcher in the Rye where Holden Caulfield talks about shaking hands with a guy who “tries to break all forty of your fingers”.  No one much talks about Orwell the entertainer.