Rillettes is about as old-school a dish as you can get – and a tragically hard-to-find one. It gets right to the heart of what’s good: pork, pork fat, salt, and pepper. Kick off a meal with rillettes and you don’t have to wipe the plate rims, garnish the entree, or remember to keep your elbows off the table. Rillettes is something you serve friends – and people you already know you like.
I miss Anthony Bourdain already.
He was my kind of cook, and he cooked my kind of food – big, gutsy, quietly sophisticated, a generous nod to tradition and never, ever, ever straying far from the very central point of cooking and eating.
Flavour is everything, and it has to taste good.
I found Kitchen Confidential explosive, a glimpse into another world, written by a man who struck me as a punk, poet, and artisan rolled into one. It felt dangerous and authentic, raw and unfiltered. It still does. It still has a power to grab me and to drag me into all those many American kitchens.
Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook has featured proudly on my shelves for a long time. I use it often. It’s a go-to for French cooking, full of authentic recipes written with care and love, the chef’s methods, techniques and sometimes, short-cuts thrown in for good measure.
I’ve taken it from its shelf this week, sadly and defiantly, and I’ve re-read large parts of it. Bourdain wrote like a prince, his turn of phrase was elegant and at times beautiful. His death came too soon, and it’s a great loss, but his work remains, and I’m grateful for that, because it’s genuine, authentic and it has more clout than all of those bad boy celebrity chefs rolled into one.
Bourdain was the real deal. Never forget that.