As I sit here, eating a freshly homemade veggie and hummus pizza and colorful, fresh salad….a feast I’ve prepared all for my lonely (but not really so lonely) self…I’m knee deep in my Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations marathon. I must confess, when my boyfriend first introduced me to Anthony Bourdain I wasn’t a huge fan: his self-narrated TV show and books full of entirely subjective rantings against people with eating habits mirroring my own gave off an image of a pretentious-know-it-all-chef, and I have encountered more than my fair share of these over the course of 3 years in the restaurant industry. With time, and after watching many of his TV episodes on my Tivo, I realized that I needed to take his witty repartee and hyperbolized thoughts on life, despite how vastly entertaining they are, with a grain of salt. Once I looked past this exterior presentation, which is as crusty as the deep-fried animal proteins he so thoroughly enjoys, I realized that he’s actually pretty open-minded towards people and their lifestyle choices and really knows his stuff when it comes to food.
The reason I think his show is leagues beyond other shows in the food/travel genre is because of his ability to look beyond a meal’s presentation,texture and its possibility of massive consumption and instead see it for its history/tradition, loyalty towards its origins and the passionate chef who’s behind it. I may not be able to (or want to) shoot a pig as readily as he can nor can I disengage my gag reflex to down a still moving octopus, as he has done many a time, but I can admire him for his appreciation of the passion and history behind food. My favorite Anthony Bourdain moment is when he is sitting down at a modest meal that has been slaved over by a very nervous local chef at a table equipped with traditional American silverware and he asks them “if I weren’t here how would you eat this?” They of course say they would just use their hands, so he proceeds to push away the silverware and use his hands as well…I don’t think many other people of his stature would do anything like that.
Clearly my view on Anthony Bourdain is drastically different than how I felt about him months ago…and I find my animosity about his view on vegetarians has definitely eased since I’ve heard him say a vegetarian meal “doesn’t have to suck.” And tonight I like him that much more because as I sit here and watch him not only does he make me not feel so bad about eating dinner alone tonight…he actually makes me feel good about indulging in an overly intricate and involved dinner…homemade with lot’s of thought, care and passion.
“In the English speaking world there’s always been this ambivalence about taking pleasure at the table, there’s been this notion, this puritanical notion, that if you take too much pleasure in your food it might somehow lead to bad character…i think the French have always understood…the residual sense of food being good, food being important, food being worth waiting for and food being worth spending time with, eating is and should be a joyous occasion.”