I really miss this man. I have never met him, aside from his shows, but I do feel as though I miss him. I was surprised as many the day the news of his passing was reported to the world. I felt a tremendous sense of loss, unable to wrap my head around the way he checked out and clueless as to the fathomless reasons why he would have taken such a final decision. It saddens me always when someone reaches this realm of such utter despair that the only option seems to be ending it all. This type of despair would appear to be so oppressive and insurmountable that taking it on is futile and pointless. I would hope that there will be a time when this scenario becomes less and less common, and that those navigating this precarious trail, find ways to circumvent this sense of utter despair. Perhaps Anthony Bourdain’s life and wondrous, thought provoking adventures can inspire us all to “take it all in“; experiences, food, interaction and the celebration of differences. I for one have been impacted by this man’s life and sincerely hope that his thirst for adventure and curious nature have somehow rubbed off on me.
Food unites people
Watching Anthony Bourdain helped me see how unifying food can be. Seeing him travel to distant lands, as well as to some local places where I myself have been, and seeing him take in fully and completely the experience, as well as openly interact with the differences presented to him was so insightful. Insightful in the sense that it showed me that differences shouldn’t divide or be the reason for derision. The differences that exist in the world and among the peoples of the world are things to be examined and to be curious about. Anthony Bourdain was extremely skilled and adept at making these inquiries so enticing to watch. Add to this his openly honest being, not attempting to hide his struggles with addiction, and his “oh so” refreshing wit and sense of humor. I honestly think that I would sometimes just tune in to hear him narrate the show, and say some quick witted and funny shit! That was a special part of the show in my opinion…his narration and severely frank sense of humor. His presence was a vital ingredient that was needed in order to make the episode a success. Once the meal was ready and the table set, adding a dash of Bourdain completes it all.
Some of the best episodes had Anthony Bourdain at a table, surrounded by friends, family or new acquaintances enjoying an exquisite meal and a thought provoking discussion. This was part of the magic of the show. Watching the whole interaction and hearing the different opinions and views mingle into an engaging experience was so refreshing to watch. I’m sure it has inspired many who watched him to use this tactic of eating and interacting in order to make their social experiences more fruitful and fulfilling. If there is anything that Anthony Bourdain cherished, it was trying to make sure that the viewers were able to see the genuine good times that he had with all.
Don’t just eat!
Part of the allure of Anthony Bourdain was that he not only went to spectacular locations to eat, but as importantly, he visited these places to help us, the viewers get a peek into the lives and the experiences of the people he met during these excursions. Not just highlighting their food, but in a way examining their existence. From street food to fine dining, he made it all so provocative. Seeing him walk the streets of a local market, or visit someone’s home for a well prepared traditional meal, to doing some outright crazy shit like wiping out on a four wheeler during a joy ride…all on camera was really entertaining to watch. One of his main goals I believe was to have his viewers know that it’s not about going to a place to “just eat“, it’s about visiting a place to in a way “consume” the entire experience. One of the other goals was to bring to light some of the history pertaining to the location and how it is coping today…what the people are dealing with in their every lives and what they are doing in order to overcome the issues. So Anthony Bourdain wove two essential ingredients necessary to story telling together, how people cope and endure with the other necessity of life, food! This is how he captivated us, informed us and entertained us.
I’m sure that this man’s life and influence touched many! He had, I’m sure many friends, admirers and critics. All interesting people usually do. Despite all of this, he always seemed to come across, at least to me with an open genuineness. Whether he was explaining the preparation of a dish, or commenting on a hot topic affecting the people of a certain location, or relating something or some aspect to his own life struggles, he always kept it real in a sense. This was another facet to his style of genuine storytelling. He was not afraid of giving us a glimpse into his struggles with addiction, his emotional hurdles and past in general. What was different about his way of explaining it to us was how real and witty he could be. I really don’t think he took himself too seriously. He was out in the world, wanting to see and absorb more and more, all the while knowing that he didn’t know it all and didn’t pretend that he did in any way.
Although he might be gone from this world, his impact will remain. His life, his struggles, his talent in cooking, writing and entertaining are his legacy. The wit and mirth with which he chronicled his adventures should serve as a blueprint for those who wish to travel and “take it all in“. He will certainly be missed for many reasons and by many people. His travels took him far and wide, and he was able to help us realize that our western idea of food isn’t the only one, and more importantly that the differences found in not only the food, but in different cultures and countries are really opportunities for us to get to know each other better. Now whenever I find myself eating a meal somewhere new, I’m sure there will be a voice in my head whispering, “how would Bourdain eat this, or what would Bourdain say”. I suppose that I will always be left to wonder what it would’ve been like to share a table with Anthony Bourdain. To hear his voice utter something witty, insightful or outlandish. To see him eat and enjoy the moment. That will be left to my imagination…so If I am ever lucky enough and find myself somewhere new, in some far off land, I will do my best to enjoy the moment, and take in the experience entirely…Bourdain style!!