Anthony Bourdain Sounds Off on New Book, Phony Food Feuds and … Pumpkin Spice?
Anthony Bourdain is a big fan of what he calls “arterial sprays” — that thing where blood “shoots out of people like a fire hose, often with percussive sound effects.”
“I grew up reading comic books, and I love really lurid, violent films. There’s an entire genre of films in Japan where blood doesn’t just drip — it shoots out of people,” Bourdain tells PEOPLE of his latest graphic novel, Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi, a prequel to his 2012 best-seller, Get Jiro! “I wanted very much to work within that tradition. I come out of 30 years in professional kitchens, and 14 more of eating and drinking around the world.”
The Parts Unknown host‘s latest book, stuffed with as much gory violence and imagery you expect from something with “blood and sushi” in its title, is set in Tokyo, and follows Jiro as he becomes a chef and navigates his life as the heir to a powerful Yakuza gangster.
“The book is a reflection of my appetites,” Bourdain says of Blood and Sushi, available on Oct. 27.
At home, living with his 8-year-old daughter, Ariane, and his wife, Ottavia, Bourdain is decidedly less fixated with knives and gore … though very fixated on making sure his budding chef-daughter doesn’t chop her fingers off, a fatherly worry that, predictably, makes cooking more exciting for her.
“Anything where there’s knife work and she can touch meat, she’s really into it,” he says of his daughter, who he often cooks with. “She takes the piss out of me a lot. I’ll say, ‘Honey, will you clean up that stuff on the floor?’ and she responds, ‘Why don’t you ask your fans!’ She is in no way impressed by my presence on TV. She thinks Alton Brown and Andrew Zimmern are much more entertaining.”
His daughter’s adoration for Brown is why Bourdain is quick to say that he doesn’t have beef with the Cutthroat Kitchen host, who recently lashed back at Bourdain’s comments that few people on Food Network actually cook.
“A major father-daughter activity around our house is watching Cutthroat Kitchen. I don’t want to get on his bad side. He’s a god to my daughter,” he says. (He even played version of the show at his daughter’s recent sleepover: “A friend and I competed against each other, and the kids were given little grade cards to ruin our lives as we tried to cook dishes under a time limit.”)
Note: This does not mean Bourdain will stop making fun of Food Network stars anytime soon.
“I tell jokes about Guy Fieri,” he says. “The day you can’t tell jokes about Guy Fieri, comedy as we know it is dead. I tell jokes about those guys; it’s what I do.”
And that’s part of Bourdain’s appeal: His ability — and sheer willingness — to tear apart cultural phenomena with the precision, brutality and cool of a Yakuza anti-hero.
“I think pumpkin spice is disgusting. I certainly don’t want it in my coffee,” he says. “I like pumpkin just fine. I like pumpkin pie. Pumpkin tortellini. I make a decent pumpkin soup. But I can’t think of the last time I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘You know what? I could really go for some pumpkin.'”
And then there’s pumpkin spice Peeps.
“I’m really happy for whoever sits around eating pumpkin spice marshmallow, but does it make the marshmallow better? That’s often a useful question with food.”
—Maria Yagoda, @mariayagoda