Bourdain Takes the Plunge

By Karen

Is Anthony Bourdain trying to recapture his former wild and crazy days? First, he gets a snake tattoo in Miami, then he takes the world’s longest bungee jump in Macau. What next? A dive into the Bosphorus to retrieve his thumb ring?

Last week on No Reservations, Tony visited Nicaragua. It was another insightful, thought-provoking episode. No criticism intended here: If you squinted in some scenes, it could have been Haiti.

Tony blogged about Nicaragua, Macau, and tonight’s episode in Vienna. I’ll be happy to see him somewhere with paved streets and beautiful architecture. Ottavia was on that trip, which always adds a Where’s Waldo? element. Does she or doesn’t she appear on camera?

Between Nicaragua and Macau, Bourdain spent a week in Cuba, about which he’s been strangely mum. He tweeted the first or second day, then almost nothing after that. I’m thinking the silence bodes well for a great NR episode.

Since Tony and his crew embraced social media, we’re getting so much real-time information about episodes in the works, to watch the finished product months later gives me a sense of forever traveling in Bourdain’s wake. He’s always a few destinations ahead of us, “miles beyond the moon,” exploring some new Never Never Land.

Bravo has a video of Eric Ripert interviewing Tony about Medium Raw (why?) as they sit in an ineptly-lit echo chamber. Interesting to watch the interplay, though, and some of Ripert’s words are subtitled because he’s so utterly incomprehensible. (Sarcasm there.)

Houston food writer Robb Walsh takes Bourdain and others to task for preaching tolerance with foreign foods, but dissing Tex-Mex.

That got me curious. Readers, how do you feel about Velveeta? Tony loves KFC mac & cheese, and can’t have any illusions about what’s in it. Is it hypocrisy?

The Feast at NBC Los Angeles did a brief video interview with Bourdain. Not sure when, though, since he was in Macau when they posted it. He says Bravo’s The Real Housewives franchise makes him angry.

And finally, Top Chef All-Stars

Tony was mercifully absent from another act in this 3-ring circus of cruelty. Padma finally got her gratuitous semi-nude scene, standing on a dock in a bikini and absurd high heels. For the Elimination, the chefs irrelevantly demonstrated their snorkeling ability, gathering conch in waist-deep water, then bashing them open and cooking on an unpredictable makeshift wood fire for members of the Nassau Yacht Club.

Predictably, the judges bitched mostly about the cooking

Does anybody making that show ever LISTEN to the judges? I don’t care what Bourdain says about things being on the level, it’s beneath contempt and plain MEAN to always blame the cheftestants for not transcending sabotage.

Again, all the dishes were good, so the judges came off like effete whiners, even amid pampered yachtsmen. Padma found Tiffany’s soup with fresh coconut milk “too sweet.” I suspect Padma’s real beef was with the 552 calories per cup.

Antonia caught flak for cutting her conch too small and unevenly cooking her fish. Richard (in a wet bathing suit, outdoors, standing in sand) miraculously turned sweet potatoes into an impressive “pasta,” but parts of his lobster were allegedly undercooked.

When there’s nothing valid to criticize, focusing on form over substance works every time.

Mike was faulted for using butter (non-Bahamian) and making a greasy dish. So, naturally, he won.

Tiffany, like Carla, got eliminated for being too sweet and for, gasp!, allowing her soup to cool while portioning it on a windy beach and walking it some distance to the table.

I think even Max Silvestri at Eater must be running low on his ability to find any of this amusing. They are down to 3 chefs, but there are still TWO episodes left. WHY??!!

8 Responses to Bourdain Takes the Plunge

  1. zappa says:

    I can one-up(or one-down) AB! I love Stouffers mac n cheese as well as the Kraft neon orange box stuff.

    I have a sentimental fondness for Velveeta and spray cheese.I had them very seldom as a child,but mylove of crappy tv seems to have nurtured the same fondness for crappy food icons

    My love of shitty tv does not include any Housewives whatsoever.These women are an embarassment to the gender. I was looking forward to watching that drowned rat Salahi on Celebrity Rehab,but the stupid bitch was kicked off before filming started and here even dumber bitch husband is now planning to sue the producers.

    Zappa’s mom


  2. catsworking says:

    ZM, I don’t think my mother ever knew (or knows) what Velveeta is, and pasta was never served in our house with cheese on it, unless it was Parmesan on top of tomato sauce. But as an adult struggling to make ends meet on my own, I quickly discovered the glory that is ramen noodles and Kraft mac & cheese.

    I’m with you on the Housewives. I have watched more than I care to admit of NY, NJ, DC, and Beverly Hills, with a dash of Atlanta, and they were all absolutely appalling. Just bunches of mean girls with more money than brains. I watched DC specifically to see the Salahis. As it turns out, they are a much, MUCH bigger train wreck than even their stunt at the White House led anyone to believe. I caught a few minutes of an interview with them the other day where the blonde was weeping about being kicked off some rehab show for not being an addict. It’s no wonder that many people think her claim of having MS is to deflect from the truth that she has an eating disorder. You’d have to go a long way to find a pair of bigger liars and phonies than the Salahis.

  3. adele says:

    Karen & ZM, my mother loved Velveeta and would eat slices of it on crackers. I never saw the charm, although she used it in her mac and cheese and it was pretty good. (but frankly, is there bad mac and cheese? I say there is only lesser mac and cheese). I’ve spent serious amounts of time watching the Real Housewives, although only NYC and Jersey; I just couldn’t take on any more, and I have watched Bethenny Ever After. I’m not terribly excited about the new season of the NY housewives, so maybe the spell is abating. Sadly, though, I know I’ll tune in to the premiere of RHONJ.

    I’m actually glad to be going to Vienna with AB tonight, and since The Third Man is in my top 5 movies, I’ll be interested in seeing what he does with that. I thought the writing for Haiti and Cambodia was stunning, but tho I don’t doubt the horrible conditions for many in Nicaragua, nor do I doubt that Daniel Ortega has become corrupt, I thought blaming all of Nicaragua’s woes on Ortega was a little short sighted. After all, considerable damage was done to Nicaragua by the Contras (so much that the World Court said that the US owed a considerable sum of money, which of course was never paid), and there were 2 or 3 presidents between Ortega’s first and second term.

    Cheray, if you’re out there, and Karen, I’m almost finished with The Comedians. It took a little while to get into it, but Graham Greene is an expert at creating atmosphere, and I’m liking it very much. Seeing on NR the actual hotel on which the Trianon was based, deepens my enjoyment of the book.

    I think this season of Top Chef may have given me Bravo poisoning — I’ll watch the last 2 episodes, but then I may be done with the series.

  4. catsworking says:

    I’ve never been a big fan of Velveeta and don’t think I could just eat it raw, but it is great for melting.

    The Comedians isn’t an e-book through Barnes & Noble and I couldn’t find a copy at my local used bookstore. I found Leslie Caron’s autobiography instead, published in 2009. I thought there would be a lot of juicy stuff about Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer, and maybe Thierry Lhermitte, but no. She did reveal a lot of details about her own life that were real eye-openers. I didn’t realize she’s never been accepted in France and could never get work there. They consider her a Hollywood actress.

    Just an FYI, I saw a tweet today that there will be live tweeting tonight during the Vienna episode. I assume it’s Bourdain.

  5. Imabear says:

    I remember as a child Velveeta was the only “cheese” I liked. I hated (and still hate)American cheese. It wasn’t until adulthood and a (now-ex) from NYC that I was introduced to Brie, Camembert, etc… which I love, especially with crusty bread and/or fruit (pears!). I am still not fond of strong cheese and aged cheeses like Blue and Stilton give me an instant migraine.

    I have never watched a single ep of any Desperate Housewives show, but then I don’t watch much tv at all. Was running 1 week behind on Tony’s new season – finally got caught up yesterday. Really enjoying it (except for the quick shot of them stringing the pig up in Nicaragua).

  6. catsworking says:

    Imabear, I’m with you on American cheese. When you peel plastic off something and then can’t tell which thing in your hands is the plastic, that’s not good.

    I’m also with you on all the cheeses that have an element of moldiness or rot to them. I can’t stand bleu cheese in any form. I’m not averse to strong cheese. The cheesier the better.

    Desperate Housewives and Real Housewives are 2 different shows entirely. Desperate is scripted. Real is supposed to be “reality” shows, and they have different sets of women in various cities.

    I routinely turn away from all the butchery and bloody scenes in NR. I know he thinks it’s important for us all to see, in graphic detail, where our food comes from. Seeing it once is enough for me in this lifetime. I was thrilled he didn’t bring down any deer in Austria.

  7. cheray smith says:

    I am “out here” Adele, but ashamed to say that I have not gotten very far with “The Comedians”. My life has been hectic as hell and when I finally get home at the end of the day, I lapse into a coma-like sleep. I expect things will calm down soon, at least enough to allow me to read.

    Loved the Vienna episode of NR! My new favourite word, which I will try to work into every possible conversation, is “Sphincteresque”.

    Confession: My dirty little secret is watching Real Housewives of NY. Ditto, RHONJ.

    Don’t tell anyone.

  8. adele says:

    Cheray, hope your life becomes a little less hectic. The Comedians is a great read; that is; if you like tropical decadence, world-weary moral ambiguity and a soupcon of Catholic guilt, all beautifully written.

    I thought the Vienna show was beautifully shot — those Zero Point Zero folks are really talented, and I loved the references to The Third Man — Graham Greene again. It was good to see Tony enjoying himself, even though every time he tossed back one of those little Jaggermeister bottles, my stomach flipped — bad memories.

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