There was talk that the popular American chef Anthony Bourdain – author of “Kitchen Confidential” and the hit television show “No Reservations” – would be at the famous Powell’s Books in Portland this past weekend to sign his new book “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.” However, Bourdain had a change of plans but Portland fans got a first look at this “instant New York Times bestseller” that warns Americans to be wary of the “mystery meat” in the hamburger they eat. “An amalgam of meat from different slaughterhouses” is how the New York Times describes what’s for dinner tonight, writes Bourdain whose demanding that hamburger meat become safe to eat again so he can have his favorite burger “medium rare” again.
Tainted E.coli hamburger now a an American staple
“When I read in the New York Times that, as standard practice, when making their ‘American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties,’ the food giant Cargill’s recipe for hamburger consisted of, among other things, ‘a mix of slaughterhouse trimmings and a mash-like product derived from scraps’ and that ‘the ingredients came from slaughterhouses in Nebraska, Texas and Uruguay, and from a South Dakota company that processes fatty trimmings and treats them with ammonia to kill bacteria,’ I was surprised,” writes Bourdian who surprised readers with his classic “Kitchen Confidential.”
In “Kitchen Confidential” – an international bestseller by a chef’s chef who worked in the restaurant industry for 30 plus years – Bourdian first alerted Americans to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of simply eating out in America. Bourdian exposed “Monday fish,” per why one should never eat fish at a restaurants on Monday’s, and other secrets about food from Bourdian’s subculture of chefs and cooks that know what they’re talking about when it comes to hamburger and other food safety.
For instance, the AP reported June 16 that “French health authorities have ordered a recall of hamburger patties after five children were contaminated with E. coli. The health agency for the Nord Pas-de-Calais region said the five children were hospitalized with infections stemming from E. coli. It said in a statement that four of the children ate frozen ground beef patties made in French factory and sold by German supermarket chain Lidl. It said authorities ordered the patties recalled pending further investigation. There was no immediate sign of a link with the deadly E. coli outbreak in Germany in recent weeks.”
Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service sent out an alert March 8 that it was recalling approximately 14,158 pounds of ground beef products “that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.”
The hamburger was produced at Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, and Arkansas City, Kan., establishment, the USDA announced while also noted that “E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness."
Furthermore, the USDA has announced “dozens of hamburger recalls” thus far this year that’s also linked to E.coli and other toxins that have rendered eating hamburger dangerous in America today.
Chefs and cooks in America don’t eat the hamburger unless its from a good source
“It’s like that scene in ‘The Godfather,’ where Marlon Brando welcomes the representatives of the five families,” writes Bourdian about the scene when he meets other famous chefs. “I almost expect our host to begin with ‘I’d like to thank our friends the Tattaglias… and our friends in Brooklyn.”
What Bourdian goes on to reveal in his new book “Medium Rare” is more than scary, considering the secrets that chefs and cooks know about how hamburger and other foods are produced in America today.
Also, Time Magazine said in a review of “Medium Raw,” that “there is no more honest man in the media than Tony Bourdain. And that makes all the difference between him and the food-media complex that he helped create. He is no longer a working chef; the moral authority of being an anonymous, hardworking, weathered veteran cook is gone in Medium Raw. He's another outsider now, a morally suspect ‘sellout’ with a cushy life and a different perspective. But of course, that's what you would expect a former chef to say."
This chef has a hearty appetite for blowing the whistle on hamburger in America today
Bourdain is mad these days, and he says so in “Medium Rare.”
“Meat-industry spokesmen, when rushed to television studios to counter the blowback from the latest incident of E.coli-related illness, usually respond with expression of sympathy for the victims, assurances that our meat supply is safer than ever – and the kind of measured, reasonable noises that go over well when faced with hyperbolic arguments against meat in general.”
He goes on to state that “Cargill” is the largest private company in America -- earning $116 billion in revenue a year -- with the bulk of Cargill products being hamburger.
“But they are very cautious when pressed on the specifics,” adds Bourdian. “When asked to describe the kind of scraps used in a particular brand of hamburger, they will invariably describe the trimmings as coming from premium cuts like sirloin, rib and tenderloin.
“The better question might be: Please tell me which of these scraps you would have been unable to use a few years ago – and exactly what do you have to do to them to make them what you would consider ‘safe.’”
Moreover, Bourdian argues that although America’s meat-industry points to only a small percentage of their hamburger products that end up having to be recalled; “we eat a lot of beef in this country. However small that percentage, that’s still a lot of hamburger.”
Hamburger is mostly “mystery meat” these days, says Bourdian and other top American chefs
Bourdian describes the hamburger you eat as “scraps that have to be whipped or extracted or winnowed out or rendered before they can put them into a patty mix. Mystery meat assembled from all over the world and put through one grinder – like one big, group grope in moist, body-temperature sheets – with strangers.”
Also, Bourdian is demanding that something be done about all the tainted, E.coli, mystery meat that kids eat each and every day across America while playing Russian Roulette with their lives. In short, hamburger is a major health concern in America today, states this famous chef.
At the same time, Bourdain states his beliefs in “Medium Raw.”
-- “I believe that, as an American, I should be able to walk into any restaurant in America and order my hamburger – that most American of foods – medium fxxxing rare. I don’t believe my hamburger should have to come with a warning to cook it well done to kill off any potential contaminants or bacteria."
-- “I believe that I shouldn’t have to be advised to thoroughly clean and wash up immediately after preparing a hamburger."
-- “I believe I should be able to treat my hamburger like food, not like infectious fxxxing medical waste."
-- “I believe the worlds ‘meat’ and ‘treated with ammonia’ should never occur in the same paragraph – much less the same sentence.”
Overall, Bourdain said the hamburger scare in America is caused by “our insatiable lust for cheap meat.”
Image source of hamburger picture: Wikipedia