Did Bourdain Call Foodies Snobs?

By Karen

There’s little Anthony Bourdain buzz on the ‘Net lately. I haven’t seen any personal appearances since October 2 when he was at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. After that, he turned up in Toronto for an extended stay, so I’ll stick my neck out and speculate that he’s working his day job, filming Season 7 of No Reservations.

2frugalfoodies, a couple in Virginia, briefly met Tony after his appearance in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on September 23, and they got an opportunity to eat at Les Halles in New York a few days later. Their server apparently told them Tony comes in about once a month, and sometimes cooks.

I’m going to stick my neck out again and say I think the server was joking, possibly sick of being asked about a guy who hasn’t worked there in a decade.

But one of the 2frugalfoodies raised a very interesting point he said Bourdain made, and which may influence his future posts. He summarized it so well, I’ll quote him rather than try to paraphrase…

“Among the many gems of wisdom, one of the points that really affected us was the idea that people who love food use it as a means to separate themselves from others. When we talk about going to a great restaurant, are we really sharing it because we love it, or because it makes us ‘more in the know,’ or somehow just a little bit classier than someone who hasn’t been? From sustainability to gourmet tasting menus, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm and snotty bragging.”

As a non-foodie who wouldn’t think to photograph my plate before I eat what’s on it, I appreciate the sentiment. It reminds me of something a friend once said: “Every great meal today is tomorrow’s bowel movement.”

This interview in Slate is dated May 31, 2010, but I don’t recall reading it, so pardon me if it’s a repeat. Kathryn Schulz talked to Bourdain at length about being wrong.

In early November, Bourdain’ chooses a favorite in the Medium Raw essay challenge. I think his next personal appearance is November 10 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

On November 11, he heads to DC to team up with his buds Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert for the Capital Food Fight to benefit the DC Central Kitchen, a cause he’s championed for several years. Then he’s scheduled for several more appearances, mostly along the East Coast, leading into Thanksgiving, and becomes scarce again until February 2011.


10 Responses to Did Bourdain Call Foodies Snobs?

  1. T says:

    Hi Karen,

    Can’t wait to hear your write-up of the DC Food Fight! I came across a blog that reviewed Mario Batali’s Eataly and was excited to see pictures of Tony and Ottavia attending the opening. Ottavia looks beautiful, as usual. Does she ever take a bad picture? You can see the top of Ariane’s head, complete with her flower clip. So cute!


    — T

  2. catsworking says:

    T, thanks for that link! Eataly looks absolutely incredible. Now I’m ashamed of how I got all excited when they opened a super-Kroger near me.

    I’m betting the Bourdain pantry is well-stocked now! And every time I see a picture of Ariane, she looks another year older. She’s growing up so fast.

  3. Tuxi says:

    Can I ask if the Eately is a store or restaurant? Mom is an Italian Food Fanatic and anyplace Mario has would be great to her! She has been getting into Tony more and we watched a repeat of the Vegas show yesterday.

  4. zappa says:

    Dear Karen
    Tony is not calling all foodies snobs-just the snobby ones! I would be turning back flips if a Kroger opened in my neighborhood!! All I have is a Trader Joes with Soviet-era llines and crap that I don’t want to buy.

    Zappa’s mom

  5. catsworking says:

    Tuxi, from the description and pictures of it on that blog, Eataly is both store and restaurant. I think the blog said it contains 7 restaurants, with a roof-top one to open later. It sounds like someplace you could spend the whole day there, eating and drinking from one end to the other while gathering the greatest groceries EVER to take home.

  6. catsworking says:

    Kroger is out of the way for us, but worth the drive when Karen goes. However, her nearby Food Lion just went upscale and has oodles of foreign products to explore now. However, their produce still goes rotten almost before she can get it home.

    Trader Joe’s is is 25 miles away, but she does find some good stuff on occasional visits. But not last night. She made their mushroom risotto mix that turned out looking (and tasting) like lumpy, oversalted vomit. The instructions said it took 3 cups of hot broth, then to keep adding 1/4 cup and let it absorb. So she ended up putting in 3 3/4 cups before giving up. She expected it to get creamy, but it didn’t seem to be heading that way. Maybe some foodie snob can clue her in on where she went wrong!

    Trader Joe’s, if the damn rice needs 5 cups of liquid, just say so on the box! Also, give some clue as to approx. time on the stove. That would have also been a very useful indicator of how close it was to done.

  7. adele says:

    From the looks of Eataly, I’d like to plan a vacation there, if only they had showers and a cot.

    Karen, I’ve had similar experiences with some of Trader Joe’s semi-prepared foods, and although they have some good things, I don’t like the fact that most of their produce is pre-packaged. That shrink wrap can cover a multitude of sins.

    But it sounds like their risotto is no easier to make than from scratch risotto. I finally got up the nerve to make my own, and it’s not that hard and came out great — and you can put whatever you like in it. If you ever feel like trying it, let me know, and I’ll talk you through it like I did with the chicken. Arborio rice is pretty easy to find now, and I even have a recipe for baked spinach and asparagus risotto, which requires no standing at the stove and adding liquid.

    I don’t think you went wrong on the TJ’s risotto; I think the directions must have been wrong.

  8. catsworking says:

    Adele, I make much better rice with bouillon, butter, and Emeril’s seasoning than this stuff. I followed the directions to a T. First, I sauteed the dry rice in olive oil, for all the good that did. Then added hot broth and simmered and stirred.

    My question is, what’s the consistency supposed to be? Is it supposed to be kind of creamy or thick and lumpy? After I added another 3/4 cup of liquid and the rice was soft, but not total mush, I was afraid to add any more because I was afraid I’d end up with starch soup. And what rice recipe gives you NO IDEA how long the rice is supposed to simmer?

    See, this is what happens almost every time I venture into foodie territory.

  9. adele says:

    Boy, for a convenience food that risotto sounds just like making the real thing. When I’ve made risotto, it becomes creamy, and you know it’s done when it doesn’t absorb any more liquid. My experience also, is that it looks kind of glossy from the oil or butter in it. It shouldn’t be gloppy, but on the other hand, the arborio rice sticks together a litte more than our usual long grain rice. I think Trader Joe’s did you wrong. I’ll try to find my recipe for baked spinach and asparagus risotto. I think you’ll really like it and be amazed at how easy it is.

  10. catsworking says:

    Then it sounds like I should have added a lot more liquid, so stating 3 cups in the instructions was absurd. It only called for one tablespoon of oil, which did virtually nothing for the rice. I was tempted to add more, but since I wasn’t sure what the end product was supposed to be, I didn’t want to deviate from the instructions. Personally, I would have used butter and more than a tablespoon.

    I guess the only advantage was that everything except the broth came in one box, but then the mushooms were dried. I would have used fresh. Live and learn. I’ll never buy that sh*t again.

    I’ve only had risotto once before, prepared on an Italian ship so I assume they knew what they were doing, and I remember it as being like very loose oatmeal.

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