In last year's Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain's tough-talking memoir about the cooking life, the magic ingredient was testosterone. In A Cook's Tour, this New York City executive chef is a one-man army, traveling the world on his stomach—and his droll wit.
He's looking, he says, for the perfect meal. It's a hokey idea, and Bourdain knows it, but with the blessings of the Food Network (the series starts this month), off he goes to Portugal, Vietnam, Scotland—dozens of locations in all—chasing food, adventure and hangovers.
Bourdain savors the local fare: borscht in Russia, lamb in Morocco, tapas in Spain. He also dines on exotica: braised bat, live cobra heart, even deadly fugu sashimi. Then there's the Gun Club, a bar-cum-shooting range in Cambodia where drink is free but ammo isn't. Bourdain handles an AK-47 rifle so well an awed waiter tells him, "You could be a killer!" (Bloomsbury, $25.95)