Anthony Bourdain

Last week, I had the opportunity of seeing Anthony Bourdain live. I’ve been a fan of his since my parents randomly bought the audio version of A Cook’s Tour while driving me home from writing camp in Iowa. (Blessed memories). Since then I’ve read some of his books and watched some shows. I was keen to see him live.

My view of the stage

There’s a lot that can be said against him. He’s arrogant as well and often a jerk. I think if we knew each other personally, we’d hate each others guts. At the start of the live show, he spent the first half hour ranting against Guy Fieri and the Food Network, which wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. He then spent another 15 minutes railing against the Food Network. Blegh.

However, I can’t forget that he (along with my best woman) changed the way I looked at food. Before the dynamic duo, I was a bit cautious about food. There were a lot of things I had no interest in trying like new meats, vegetables as a whole, etc. But then I heard him talk about food in a way that I had never experienced. There was wonder and adventure in just putting things in your mouth (food things!). I was hooked. Food was connection. Food was conversation. People will open up to you if you open yourself to their table. It’s beautiful. He (and my best friend) made me want to try everything in the world. The best quotation from last night was “Curiosity is my only virtue.” But what a virtue! Plus, his description of haggis (from that long ago car ride) still haunts me. I still haven’t been able to find it but that will change on the honeymoon to Scotland.

So I was going to see him if I could at the Auditorium. After the 30+ minute rant, he started talking about his philosophy about food and life. While I sometimes disagreed with his commentary, it was interesting. He did do his usual rant against vegetarians, sniffed at gluten sensitivity…but he really came alive during the Q&A. That’s when he talked about his travels, the individual shows he did. He bemoaned the fact that he has managed to screw up the show in Sicily twice (with a tern year gap between them). He talked about how he lost it when he was supposed to hunt octopus like the locals.  When they got to the waters, it was an active beach so he was suspicious that anything would live there. But he went into the water with his spear. When he was in the water, something dropped near his head. It was a dead octopus. He emerged from the water to find that a boat was chucking frozen octopus into the water. He was not pleased and ended the filming right then and there.

Bourdain also talked about how he can only go to Russia every five years since he can’t keep up with the drinking. He explained (with hyperbole?) that usually he’d have to drink 3-5 shots of vodka at breakfast, 11-13 at lunch and 17-19 at dinner. Damn.

So the show eventually picked up. Yes, I’ll see him again if he comes back to Chicago. I still think he’s an asshole but I do enjoy how he talks about food and communication between strangers.

That’s all for now!

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