Monday, August 13, 2007

I Want To Be Anthony Bourdain

I'm not one to watch a lot of TV. The only show I'm currently watching with anything approaching regularity is Flight of the Conchords, mostly because it's the greatest new series since Married with Children.

I did, however, happen to randomly catch a show a few weeks back that seemed potentially awesome. It's called "No Reservations" and is hosted by Anthony Bourdain, a guy I've since learned wrote the book "Kitchen Confidential." Suffice it to say, it's a great show if you're comfortable nursing pangs of jealousy. Bourdain visits obscure parts of the world, eating the best/weirdest dishes his hosts have to offer, and narrates with often surprisingly intelligent social commentary. In other words, it's the ultimate way to make a living.

As a chef in New York City, Bourdain -- now a "chef-at-large" for Brasserie Les Halles -- is well-placed to provide on-the-ground coverage of the war being waged on food lovers' gastronomic liberty.

Columnist Franklin Harris explains:
For Bourdain, food is a social, even cultural experience. Snubbing the local cuisine isn’t just rude, it’s antisocial. That’s one reason Bourdain hates militant vegetarians and, as he puts it, “their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans.” If you don’t eat meat, you’re turning your back on the vast majority of the world’s cultures.

Bourdain dislikes all of the right people. His attacks on Food Network chef/talk show host Rachael Ray — he calls her a “bobblehead” — are a joy forever. He also has unloaded both barrels on actor/raw food evangelist Woody Harrelson.

But the main reason I admire Bourdain is he is a champion of freedom. He stands up to activists who want to ban foie gras, as Chicago has already done, and government busybodies who outlaw food that is commonplace in the rest of the world, like unpasteurized cheese.

Yes, my fellow Americans, unless you leave the U.S., you’ll never (legally) know what truly wonderful, stinky, delicious cheese is like. But, hey, at least you’ll still have Velveeta.

During an episode of “No Reservations” set in Paris, Bourdain observed that almost everything done in one French restaurant he visited would be illegal if done in a kitchen in New York. Yet you don’t see Parisians dropping dead of food poisoning. And they’re not as fat as we are, either.

How rotten that in order to indulge certain culinary preferences, Americans must first flee for freer locales.

Which reminds me. My dealer hasn't been returning my pages for a week now. Hope the feds didn't nab him, or that he didn't get narc'ed on by the sellouts at American Dairy.

1 comment:

PN said...

No Reservations is my one and only 'appointment viewing'. Bourdain is laugh out loud funny and refreshingly honest. He doesn't put on a fake smile and wide eyes after every bite. He puts himself into uncomfortable situations and tells the viewer point blank when the food put in front of him is just plain nasty. You will never be able to watch any other travel/food show after watching this.