Bourdain-isms: Remembering Favorite Bad Boy Anthony Bourdain

Remembering Favorite Bad Boy Anthony Bourdain

Posted: Jun. 08, 2018

Today, we depart from our standard blog to honor Anthony Bourdain, 61, who passed this Friday morning, June 8, 2018.

Intrepid eater. Honest writer. Charming when so inclined, not so charming when in bad company. Chef, writer, and television host; Anthony Bourdain is many things and in countless ways he inspired his fans, peers, and maybe even you, to explore deeper and take risks.  

We pay tribute to our favorite bad boy and beloved chef with a collection of musings that capture his indefatigable mind and unique wit.

On Why He Loves “Weird” Food

Author and humorist John Hodgman recalls eating with Bourdain via Twitter:

“I ate with Bourdain. Probably 2004. He was big even then but he took time to sit with me in Chinatown to talk “weird” food for a magazine piece I was writing. He taught me that our “weird” is the world’s delicious. We ate chicken feet. The afternoon vibrated with life. RIP”

On How Yelp Reviewers Are the Worst

“There’s really no worse or lower human being than an elite Yelper,” Bourdain says, wearing his classic deadpan expression. “They are universally loathed by chefs everywhere. They’re the very picture of entitled negative energy.”

Bourdain later tells Time that he shuns all Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews because “I don’t see them as reliable, because you don’t know what people’s priorities are.

When you are in unfamiliar territory and want to research authentic restaurants, Bourdain recommends an unorthodox approach to getting a really great recommendation: “provoking nerd fury.”

It goes like this: Visit a foodie website like Eat Your World or Chowhound and write a post about having eaten the best food of your life at a randomly selected, generic-sounding restaurant in the city you are traveling to. The post should include, Just got back from (insert your destination).

“The torrent of informative abuse that will come your way from people who want to tell you how stupid, witless, and uninformed you are will be very instructive. It will, of course, mention the tiny little place, the tiny little trattoria ristorante that they experienced,” Bourdain tells Time.

On How Much People’s Tastes Have Changed 

“People are lining up for food that would have burned their head clean off their shoulders ten years ago,” Bourdain observed to Vogue. “People are craving and lining up to eat kimchi, which, you know, they would have bullied a kid for eating ten years earlier if they brought it with their lunch.”

On the Greatness of Food Halls

As Bourdain told the Washington Post, “What’s good about food halls is that you have individual voices expressing themselves through food.” What would not be good, he said, “Is if large corporations decide to take advantage of their popularity with “Disneyland” versions that lack that individual approach.” Although food is prepared fast, it’s still “good food prepared by individuals.”

He later told Vogue a successful food hall needed authentic kitchens. “You bring the people in who know what they’re doing and you let them do it. You bring in the guy who’s the best chicken-and-rice guy in Singapore and just let him do his thing. Bring in his own signage. I’m not building some arty (sic) thing.”

Speaking of Singapore….

On Being a Fan of Street Food
"You know, most cultures, most places, they treat street food like a problem to be solved. But for me, it's the No. 1 reason to come to Singapore."

On Hawker Centers Replacing Restaurant Food
"On any 24-hour trip here you’d be foolish to not plan at least three meals at any one of the hawker centers. The hawker centers of Singapore were a shrewd strategy to incorporate and control what was once a chaotic but pervasive culture of street carts."

On Dining Out While Traveling

Next time you take a trip, follow Bourdain’s 7 rules to find the best restaurant wherever you are.

  1. Seeing photos of food are a sign you’ve been tourist-trapped. You want to go to a place where there's locals only. No photos of the food, the menu is not in English and there are people eating there that look like they go there a lot.”

  2. Trust a condensed menu. “My favorite restaurants are ones where they only do two or three things. A place that does three things and it looks like they’ve been doing those same three things for a very long time—that’s a really healthy sign. If they have a menu that’s all over the place, if they have a hamburger or Asian fusion and it’s not in Asia, these are all worrisome to me.”

  3. If the bathroom is dirty, just ignore it; it’s not a sign. I used to say a dirty bathroom was a sign you should not be eating in a restaurant. I’ve learned the opposite is true. Some of the best food experiences I’ve ever had are places they really don’t give a shit about that. They know their food is good and that’s enough.

  4. Pets are a good sign. “If you see a dog in a restaurant, they’re feeling pretty confident about their food.”

  5. When you see a tour group, leave immediately. “If there’s tour groups in there—even if you’re in a tour group—abandon them because they’re going to the wrong place. Just find an excuse, feign a stroke or an attack of violent diarrhea, but get away.”

  6. Trust the crowds. “You’re never going to get that magical meal if you’re not willing to take a chance on a bad one. Walking with zero preparation into a place [and] you see a bunch of Romans in there [and] they seem to be having a good time—try it. Maybe it’s not good, but if you go to the place that the concierge says, ‘All the Americans seem to like it’ — that ensures that you will have a bad meal.”

  7. Avoid other Americans. “If there are other Americans in there—in any number—chances are, you’re in the wrong place. If you go to New York looking for a deli, you don’t want to go to a deli with people filled from the Midwest taking pictures of each other. You want to go to a deli that’s filled with New Yorkers. Not because New Yorkers are particularly nice, it’s just that, chances are, that’s a good deli.”

On How He Got It From Momma and Poppa

“My parents were pretty adventurous. We would go into New York and eat at a Swedish restaurant or a Japanese restaurant or something,” Bourdain told Eater. “We liked movies with subtitles in my house. That meant something. The ‘other’ wasn’t bad or frightening. It was interesting.”

On Finding Inner Peace  

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom…is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

Requiescat in pace.


Posted: Jun. 08, 2018 | Written By: Emma Alois



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