Monday, February 9, 2009

my love hate relationship with Anthony Bourdain


I have seen all of his shows.
I have read his book.
I know his life inside and out.
In my opinion he has one of the greatest jobs out there.  He gets to travel the world, eat food and talk about it.

No.  I do not wish I had a coke problem in the late 70's but I do wish I could have been there - NYC in 77.  The Ramones.  The Runaways.  Blondie.  CBGB's.

I, unlike my husband and some of my friends, never had the chance to go to CBGB's before it closed.  And no, I don't care that it was dirty - I played dirty clubs.  I don't care that it smelled like urine - I worked at Tower City.  Ever tell you about the time I set an over sized fountain box in a "puddle" and then hoisted it up, balancing it on my thigh to get a grip before I realized the puddle was urine?  

I don't care about that.  But to have had that memory.... that would be rad.

And his writing.  He speaks how he writes.  

Long drawn out sentences filled with 15 dollar words that run you around the subject matter making you wonder what he's talking about and if he'll ever get to the point - just like this sentence.

And the food.

The first time I saw Bourdain had to be in late 2001 or early 2002.  All I know is that the husband didn't live with me yet because I remember driving him home.  I also remember the episode was on Food Network before he, Bourdain, started talking smack about it and he was eating something odd and weird - this I remember every time an Andrew Zimmerman comment.

A half grown embryo boiled and eaten with hot sauce is still a half grown embryo.

Now, I don't dislike him (or anyone) because they eat meat.  It is a free world, eat away, and I am a firm believer that if you feel the need to say you "hate" something, you had better be able to back it up.  I will not look at you and tell you I don't like something if I haven't tried it.  And when it comes to meat, I actually have has many variations (and I'm talking food here)  Hell, I ate seafood up until the husband moved in with me.  At that time he was slightly opinionated about people who consumed meat - and seeing that I rarely ate seafood due to being poor - I gave it up.  No biggie.  So when I make "meat is murder" comments, it really is just me joking.  The most you'll ever get out of me is me trying to convince people to eat free range and organic.  Otherwise, have at it.

But just like I hate a preachy vegetarian, I hate a preachy carnivore (and people who say "meat-a-tarian" - it's carnivore.  You don't have to make up a word for something that already exists.  Also, if you eat seafood or chicken - you're still a carnivore.)
So this is when the "hate" of my love hate relationship comes into play with Mr. Bourdain.

Yes.  I know that anchovy paste does add a level of depth to certain things, and that sauteing veal and then using the little left over bits will change the taste of a tomato sauce - but it's not the end of the world if you don't have that.  Not to me.  I like the challenge.  I LOVE the challenge of taking recipes and making the vegetarian and then serving them to meat eaters.  I know a lot of picky eaters and I've gotten most of them to eat tofu without even knowing it.

Until I've been sold out.  Surprisingly some people have "trust issues" with me when I make certain dishes now... 

This is my on going battle with Anthony Bourdain.  Yes, I respect a person who can make food into an artistic show, but at the end of the day, when I want good food - I want good food.  If I wanted theatrics I'd go to the theater.

So I watch No Reservations each week - well, mostly every week - sometimes I get pissy and turn it off.  And sometimes I can't watch the living things be massacred before my eyes because it's "our right" to eat them. I get it, but I don't want to see it.  Sorry. "Top of the food chain! Yeehaw!" - (South West episode.  I don't care, Ted Nugent is a moron.  Please don't even get me started on the misinterpretation of the second amendment.)

And then sometimes I freaking love, love, love the show.
The food.
The destination.
The fact that Bourdain makes 10,000 analogies a second.  I FREAKING LOVE IT!  
New York City.
Beer.
Hot Summer nights.
Travel.
Food. 
And the written word.

Every time a guy asks me what women really want in men - I tell them the same thing:
- Confidence
- Sense of humor
- and it doesn't hurt to know how to cook

And a fourth for me, to be able to hold a conversation with me, intelligently.

I don't mind the pretension.
I think everyone can be pretentious on certain topics.  There is always that one topic that is special to each of us as individuals.  For me, it would probably be Russian history or some part of literature.  For Bourdain he can speak pretentiously about food, comparing it to a sun rise or a sun set and wrap his words around anyone who will let him...
I think KNOWING that you're pretentious is harder than actually BEING so.
And I think he knows this. 
I think he bases his show on this.
Using his background, his back alley culinary up bringing, mixed with a privileged childhood and summers smoking pot on an island (not forgetting culinary school) has made him into the foodie that he is today.  And then the written word.  It is evident that he knows it well.

That is the love.

But I'll tell you this.  Taking a picky eater, adding to that allergies to green peppers, slightly lactose intolerant and then topping off living in a Red State in the mid-West where Bessy is the poster child for how to be "healthy".  That is my battle every day.
Going out to eat when everyone needs to base their vegetable soup with beef broth or add gelatin to their mouse or sneak some chicken base into their pizza sauce - that is my battle.  It's hard.  Especially in American food.  Most ethnic foods have vegetarian/vegan variations - Asian, Indian, Ethiopian.  I'm still on a quest to find good Italian.  The last time I had Italian out they over cooked the pasta, which pisses me off, especially when I only have a small amount of time to be out.  

That is the hate.

I have no idea why I felt like sharing that.  But every week I watch the show and every week I bitch in my head.  And every week I wish I wouldn't have lent Kitchen Confidential to my friend who turned out to be a psycho bitch who stopped talking to me because I was pregnant and then every week I remember I have her copy of Fahrenheit 451 - no, it doesn't make it better.

well, maybe a little bit. 

But to wrap this up, it comes down to this.
I will become a pilot
I will have my bar

but sometimes, in the back of my head, I wish I could fly all over this planet and eat 10,000 different types of things as I write about them... sadly for me... I'm the one that's a vegetarian, allergic to green bell peppers and slightly lactose intolerant.  

They say variety is the spice of life... 
Here's hoping I don't lose too many more variables so that I can enjoy it.

Anthony Bourdain and your job of splendor... 
How I love to hate you and then love you some more...

1 comment:

  1. am bowled over by this blog....
    and am a certified bourdain fan..

    ReplyDelete