“Denver and Ron are talking about injuries fellow cooks have sustained. Ron describes one cook whose knife fell through his foot, but he had to continue to work because the restaurant was so busy: ‘When he took off his shoe at the end of the evening, his sock was just soaked in blood.’ Denver tells Ron about a cook whose knife slipped and split his stomach open.”

No sooner does my seasonal food books roundup hit the screen than Northwestern sociology prof Gary Alan Fine’s Kitchens: The Culture of Restaurant Work arrives in the mail. Six years before Anthony Bourdain lifted the skirts on the blood and guts, drinking, drugging, whoring, and questionable hygienic practices of the professional kitchen, Fine released this fascinating ethnography of four Twin Cites restaurant kitchens, covering a lot of the same ground, albeit with a nonlurid academic approach. It’s updated with a new preface discussing the huge changes in restaurant culture since its initial relase. I haven’t had time to get very far but just skimming Fine’s field notes (like the one above) is great fun.