While Anthony Bourdain was autographing my copy of No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach at the Durham Performing Arts Center on February 19, he mumbled something with an Italian accent like, “Make sure you see Cats Working!”
“What?” I asked.
That’s when I learned that it was his wife, Ottavia, who put him on to Cats Working. And it was she who suggested he send me a Christmas card.
Talk about a shock. Every snarky post and comment ever written about her flashed through my mind like it was my final moment on earth. But trying to keep my wits about me, I changed the subject and inquired after Lupetto, his cat.
I figured that’s what he’d expect Cats Working to ask.
“Lupetto’s a 6-year-old male. Ottavia rescued him from the North Shore Animal League some time ago. He came as part of the package,” Tony said.
And I’ve been thinking Ottavia was like my Italian grandmother and hates animals, when all the time, the woman’s been scooping a litterbox. She’s a cat person!
If you look beyond her style and youth (both of which I wish I still had, by the way), Ottavia sounds like exactly the smart, earthy type of woman we’d expect to capture Bourdain’s fancy.
And seemingly to put to rest a reader’s comment about her origins, I was told that Ottavia hails from her mother’s home, the Lombardy region of Italy, and that her father is Sardinian.
Since it’s now abundantly clear to me that someone in the Bourdain household has read Cats Working pretty thoroughly, I want to set the record straight and apologize publicly to Ottavia for misperceptions about her that arose in the absence of facts, to provide the truth so the curious can find it here (because her name continues to appear as one of my top searches), and to thank her for not putting out a hit on me.
Like Tony, she’s a genuine class act — a much-beloved wife — and probably about to have her hands full as daughter Ariane enters her terrible 2’s in April.