Last week Anthony Bourdain took his own life. I won’t try to analyze why this happened, instead I want to remember here the special moments from his various television shows that touched me deeply. Some profound moments and some not so profound. I don’t think I ever sat down and watched one of his shows without being inspired to sit down to share a meal with a fellow human being.
I can’t remember when I first took notice of Anthony Bourdain. I do remember some of my favorite episodes from his various shows. Here are some of my favorite memories.
No Reservations Season 2 Episode 8 US/Mexico Border – This is one episode that stuck with me through the years. It touched me because my mom was born in Laredo, Texas and my dad was born in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico just across the Rio Grande. Tony explored the area and shed light on the human side of the border/immigration policies of our country. He shed light on those who are the backbone of the restaurant industry in many cities. He talked to people who would be affected by the building of a wall across our border. One of the touching moments is when Tony shares a meal in Monterrey Mexico with the family of a man who is working in Laredo Texas. They haven’t seen their son in 3 years and don’t know when they will be able to see him again. This is the cost we overlook or choose to ignore when we eat out or drink a bottle of wine. Check out this wonderful episode here No Reservations US/Mexico Border
No Reservations Season 5 Episode 1 Mexico – Tony travels to Mexico with the late Carlos Garcia – executive chef of Les Halles, Tony’s former job – and visits with Carlos’ family while exploring the tremendous cuisine of Mexico. A superb episode that again shows the wonderful spirit and character of our neighbors to the south. Watch this episode and then listen to our current president when he says “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” See for yourself here No Reservations Mexico and then tell me how anyone can speak such nonsense.
No Reservations Season 5 Episode 5 Chicago – I love this episode as Tony visits parts of Chicago you normally don’t see in any travel guides. He visits the South Side of Chicago and eats at Calumet Fisheries, a place very close to where I grew up. He introduced us to the late Burt Katz – owner of Burt’s Place and founder of Pequod’s Pizza – and forever changed my opinion on who had the best pizza in Chicago. And he admits that Chicago has the best hot dogs in the world even over his beloved New York City. He visits the now closed Hot Doug’s – don’t fret Hot Doug’s is now available at Wrigley Field – and eats duck fat french fries and their famous foie gras and sauternes duck sausage. Check out the short clip here Hot Doug’s or view the entire episode here No Reservations Chicago
The last episode I want to highlight is the Parts Unknown Bay Area episode where Tony goes to his favorite spot in San Francisco – Swan Oyster Depot. I haven’t been to Swan Oyster Depot nor have I been to Tadich Grill for the Hangtown Fry – but I have had Hangtown Fry and martinis for breakfast in Morro Bay thanks to Tony’s love for that combination. It’s all about sitting down and sharing food with friends and/or strangers. The food tastes better, the memories last forever, and you learn so much from the person you are eating with. Check out the clip here on Oyster Swan Depot and here for the Tadich Grill Hangtown Fry & Martini
The title of this blog begins with a line from the song “Sweet Old World.” It’s a song written by the great Lucinda Williams about the death of her friend by suicide. Listen to it here Sweet Old World Personally, I may not wake up every morning thinking this is a perfect world but I do wake up and I look forward to knowing that I have another day with my son and it indeed is a sweet old world. I’ll take whatever time I have here however long that is. I’m not judging anyone, this is what works for me. God bless you Tony and thanks for sharing your talent and passion with us. Thank you for teaching us to sit down and share a meal with a friend or with a stranger. By doing so, we learn about other cultures and our fear of the unknown tends to lessen and disappear. This scary world becomes a sweet old world.
Here’s the lineup for this week’s tasting….
Father’s Day Favorites
Terenzuola Vigne Basse Vermentino, Colli Di Luni 2016 $18.99
Von Buhl Armand Riesling Kabinett, Pfalz Germany 2015 $19.99
Harper Voit Pinot Noir Antiquum, Willamette Valley 2014 $64.99
Stolpman Estate Syrah, Ballard Canyon 2016 $26.99