After Ottavia began spending a lot of time at Tony’s place while they were dating, he invited her to stay an entire weekend, but she said she’d have to go home to feed Lupetto. Tony told her to bring the cat over, and Lupetto never left.
I said, “You know when a man accepts your cat, you have found a good man.”
Ottavia smiled and nodded in agreement.
She said she wasn’t particularly interested in getting married because things were going well. Now I’m surmising here, but Tony must have realized he’d found a keeper because he started talking about — brace yourselves — having a family.
Kids. His idea. Goes to show how little Tony lets TV and his books reveal about his soft side.
But in July 2006, Tony got trapped filming No Reservations in Beirut (his first episode to be nominated for an Emmy). Ottavia said he phoned her almost daily, but when he told her the cell phone towers were being bombed and they might lose touch, she got really worried. “The Italians and other countries got their people out. Where were the Americans?” she asked.
When she was offered a seat on the private plane sent to meet Tony and his crew wherever the Marines dropped them off, she took it.
That close call made them both realize there’s no guarantee of tomorrow, so they decided to go for the family. They succeeded in conceiving on their first try, and Ottavia found out while they were vacationing in the Caribbean (or Miami, not sure which).
One night in December 2006, she was lying on the couch, “VERY pregnant, watching something dreadful on TV, like Dancing with the Stars,” when Tony asked her to marry him.
Impending motherhood had changed her attitude toward marriage, so she accepted. The only hitch was that Tony’s divorce wasn’t quite final yet.
I asked Ottavia what her parents thought of the 22-year age spread, and she told me she had always been a good kid, never in any trouble, so they trusted her judgment. Her mother read Kitchen Confidential. Although she didn’t find it exactly reassuring, all she said was, “Be careful.”
Ottavia said, “I was never into the big white dress or anything,” and a civil ceremony in April 2007 with no trimmings suited her perfectly. When I asked if they had a honeymoon, she replied with a smile, “We’ve been on many,” and I got the impression they’re on honeymoon wherever they go together.
Ottavia still studies martial arts for the exercise, but doesn’t fight much because it has caused some problems with her back, knee, and leg. But she’s glad to be able to defend herself, and plans to have Ariane start lessons next year.
The Bourdains traveled to Tuscany to film No Reservations when Ariane was just 4 weeks old, and Ottavia was asked to appear in the scene where Tony prepares an Italian meal for the crew. She said it was delicious and everybody was gobbling it, but they told her to say on camera that it was “disgusting” to make the scene funny.
The truth is, Tony does know how to cook good Italian.
And speaking of babies, I was wrong. Ottavia is not pregnant now, but she hinted that Ariane may not always be an only child.
Cats Working once asked if Bourdain’s wife chooses obscurity. Ottavia definitely does. She’s been asked to appear on No Res many times, but declines. She agreed to do the Sardinia episode only because her whole family was so excited about it. In the spring they’ll be filming in Rome and she’ll be there, but said she has no plans to appear on camera.
(We’ll be watching the edges of every frame, just in case.)
Bourdain travels so much, I asked Ottavia if it’s hard on her. She told me when Tony is anywhere within the U.S., she feels “he’s just a few hours away, so it’s not so bad.” Sometimes he comes home for a night, or she and Ariane go to him. It’s only when he’s overseas that she really feels distance between them.
Next: Bourdain Food Fight Pan Scrapings (sans Nasty Bits)