“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed pope-mobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head?
I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”
~ Anthony Bourdain
Like most of the food world, I was shocked and saddened by the morning’s report of Anthony Bourdain’s death in a Paris hotel-room.
My (completely one-sided) relationship with Bourdain has always been conflicted. I can think of no other public figure in my life of whom I have, over a great deal of time, been so equally drawn to, and repulsed by.
His snarky, “New York Bad-ass” persona, far-left leanings, and compulsion for adolescent penis-humor, have more than once found me turning off his shows, mid-stream, muttering angrily to myself. And yet his obvious and hard-earned culinary skills, his love of adventure, his amazing mastery of the written word, and those few and (seemingly) far between “peek-behind-the-veil” moments of a deep ability to love, of great compassion, of fierce loyalty to his “crew”, always drew me back.
And maybe it was that – those brief glimpses of vulnerability and heart, that kept me from being able to quit Tony.
“He was a Hero of Human Curiosity.” ~ CNN
I’ve read all of his books, and watched every episode of every series, and for every instance in which he’s pissed me off, there are an equal number (probably more) of moments where he taught me something shockingly important, broadened my worldview, or pointed me down a new path of personal growth and adventure.
His no-compromise, “This is who I am, and fuck you if you don’t like it…” approach to life, resonates deeply with my own, often pig-headed, take me or leave me, attitude.
And, in that, I’m unsure whether Tony was was an inspiration to me, or an enabler of my own selfish hubris.
Like family, sometimes you love them, sometimes you hate them, but most often you float somewhere in the nebulous ether between the two.
What I do know is that I’ll miss him greatly.
Wherever you have moved on to, Tony, I hope you’ve found peace…and a good bowl of Pho.