Happy Birthday, Ottavia Bourdain

By Karen

April is a month for celebrating in the Bourdain household. First Ariane’s birthday on the 9th, a wedding anniversary on the 20th, and wife Ottavia celebrates her birthday on April 28. Cats Working wishes Ottavia a great one, and many more!

Meanwhile, Tony has been off shooting No Reservations on the West Coast. Tonight, tune in for another new episode in Hokkaido in northern Japan. Here’s the promo clip. (Sorry I couldn’t insert it from Travel Channel’s website, a veritable monument to inconsistency, bad schedule info, and general suckitude.)

Tony blogged most eloquently about his recent meal at El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s restaurant in Spain that’s closing forever this summer. The event was captured for an upcoming NR episode.

According to Tony, we all have Ferran Adrià to thank for the very existence of No Res. Tony and his crew shot “Decoding Ferran Adrià” on faith and used it as the pilot for the show that eventually found a home on the Travel Channel.

Last week, Tony appeared on The Joy Behar Show on CNN. Eater posted the video. Behar mentioned that Medium Raw in paperback will be available in May. Amazon says May 3.

Bourdain’s BFF, Eric Ripert, prepared lamb on the Today Show on April 22 and was asked to describe Tony in one word. He answered, “grain of salt,” and explained why.

NorthJersey.com provides a bit more background on Tony’s involvement as a writer on HBO’s series, Treme, which began its second season last night. Bourdain’s in charge of the New York thread, and his feelings for Alan Richman, whom he added as a character, don’t seem to have softened appreciably.

I’m reading Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter mainly because Bourdain raves about it. BTW, they are co-hosting a lamb roast fundraiser on April 29 in NYC to benefit the Bronx Academy of Letters, if you’re in the neighborhood.

I’m just getting into “Bones” after feeling no qualms about skipping a chicken-killing scene that wrapped up “Blood.” I’ll reserve judgment, but confess that I’m not feeling hooked yet.

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28 Responses to Happy Birthday, Ottavia Bourdain

  1. zappa says:

    Happy Birthday Ottavia!

    Zappa’s mom

  2. MorganLF says:

    I just finished Keith Richards Bio “Life”, based on Tony’s rave. Absorbing at times, and definitely a musician’s book. Worth the read even though I thought Marianne Faithfull’s book and Patty’s Boyd’s book were faster reads.
    I’ve got ” Bones” on the list.

  3. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I’ll read a lot of things based on Tony’s recommendations, but a book about Keith Richards or any other musician, never. It might as well be printed in Chinese. 😉

  4. adele says:

    Morgan and Karen, I loved Keith’s Life, but then I’m a huge Rolling Stones fan, and I was surprised at how well-written it was — either Keith can really write, or his co-author was very good.

    It’s been a couple of months since I finished Gabrielle Hamilton’s book. I found the parts about her childhood interesting and well-written, as I did many of her descriptions of visiting Italy and life in Prune’s kitchen. HOWEVER, despite his abundant praise of her writing, I find AB to be a better and less self-conscious writer, and I was somewhat bothered by her explicit description of her marital issues — she has two sons, who will be able to read soon, and I’m not a believer in the public trashing of one parent by another.

    Paul Kahan, a pretty famous Chicago chef, also held lamb roast in Gabrielle Hamilton’s honor.

    I noticed on Twitter that Ottavia is threatening to get corn rows so her hair won’t be pulled so much in her Mixed Martial Arts classes. I hope she’s kidding.

  5. catsworking says:

    Adele, Gabrielle Hamilton is still a lesbian at my point in the book. Last night I got to her detailed descriptions of finding and picking up the human diarrhea and the maggot-filled rat outside Prune. The woman really has a way with words. I’m getting into the rhythm that every time I pick up the book she’s going to gross me out, which had made it a poor choice for bedtime reading.

    Yes, some of her narrative about Europe is very poetic, but I’m still not getting Bourdain’s effusive praise. For example, when I hit the first flashback to her travels in Europe while she was thinking about buying Prune, I was totally blindsided and had to go back and forth a bit to figure out what she was doing. And the way she handled the shadowy girlfriend who occasionally, randomly pops into the story, would be my other beef. Where did SHE come from? I am very surprised to hear that Hamilton goes on to have 2 sons.

  6. adele says:

    I got used to the back and forth in “Blood” pretty quickly. My objection is that the prose is sometimes too purple for my taste — some writers are just a little too in love with their words, and I think Gabrielle is sometimes (not always) guilty of this — that and the fact that I think she overshares about her marriage. Still, it was a fast read and held my interest, but I still say she can’t approach Bourdain, when he’s even pretty good, and not at all when he’s at his best.

  7. catsworking says:

    Adele, I agree with you on the purple prose. I also thought several of the transitions between the flashbacks were awkwardly done and was surprised her editor didn’t point that out. Reflection on the state of publishing – not enough help.

    I also found disconnect in the part about her wanting to be a writer and felt it was poorly articulated. She talked about doing a ton of writing and going back to school, but never really explained why she abandoned all that to go back to cooking, except that she heard some girl read a lousy poem from rice paper. I was waiting for some turning point in HER writing – like being rejected or criticized, or finding that she wasn’t up to the task of writing whatever it was she wanted to do (??) – SOMETHING – but no.

    Personally, I think she was still too close to the subject matter to see the gaping, confusing holes in the narrative. The first part about her childhood was most well-written and clear because she’s gained enough distance from it.

    I’m less than halfway through it, and by all reports it gets weaker toward the end. Oh, goodie!

    The first Bourdain book I read was A Cook’s Tour and that hooked me on him as a writer. I must have read KC next, and then the novels.

    He never gets as deeply, personally emotional as Hamilton (except when he’s writing about pho), but he definitely has a seemingly effortless mastery of writing that appeals to me more.

  8. MorganLF says:

    Karen & Adele,

    That’s it I think I’ll take a pass. Oh jeez another Lesbian/or not self aware journey into radishes & butter? Tony is fiercely loyal to her and has mentioned her in two books so I she can cook.

    As For Keith Richards, Karen you will find him clever and down to earth and the sound track of my life was the Stones! My god as recently as 1994 when I was a mature adult my best friend and I recreated our behavior on the 1972 tour by bribing guards to let us get close to the stage. I got close enough to the catwalk ramp that when Keith & Mick ran down it and Keith leaned forward, his guitar was in reach, I had to restrain my friend from wrapping herself around his leg by reminding her she had a child at home!

  9. catsworking says:

    Morgan, just as Hamilton gave no inkling that she was a lesbian, I assume there will be no explanation when she switches teams and gets married. Personally, I have no patience for that sort of “confusion” myself. It just strikes me as being greedy. I also wonder about the person who takes up with someone like that. Seems to double the risk of ultimate rejection when you’re competing with other men AND women to keep the switch-hitter satisfied.

    The more I see of the kitchen side of the restaurant business, the more I realize that fierce loyalty is a perk of being in the club.

    I’m wondering if she ever explains why she decided on the name “Prune” for her restaurant. She mentions it to someone in the book like it’s the most obvious choice. Maybe the reason was in the chicken-killing pages I skipped. Maybe the chicken stuffed itself with prunes that fermented and exploded.

    I hate to admit this, but I could pass Keith Richards on the street and not know him, and don’t ask me to name even one of his songs (although I’d probably recognize some if I heard them). On the other hand, when I was very little, maybe 5 or 6, I once found myself walking next to Liberace and RECOGNIZED him. How sad is that?

  10. adele says:

    Morgan, there are some good parts to B,B&B; in fact, if Bourdain hadn’t touted it so highly,and I’d discovered it on my own, I wouldn’t have regretted reading it. I would have thought that it had interesting parts.

    Here’s my Keith Richards story. It was the Chicago Blues Festival in 1980 or 1981, and Chuck Barry was playing at blues bar in Chicago that weekend. My friend, Linda (and partner in crime), her then husband, and I went to see Chuck because we’d heard that Keith Richards had been spotted, hanging with Chuck at the Blues Fest. Sure enough, we walked into the bar, and there he was, with a bottle of Jack Daniels in front of him. We managed to get seats right behind his table, and right before he went on stage to jam, Linda leaned forward and said, “We just love you and the Stones.” Pretty inane, but Keith turned around and kissed Linda’s hand, then my hand and slurred something about the lovely ladies in Chicago. Karen, to put it in context, think about Yul Brynner kissing your hand.

  11. catsworking says:

    Adele, tell us the truth. Have you ever washed that hand since this incident?

  12. adele says:

    Hand’s probably been washed thousands and thousands of times since then, but when it happened, Linda and I both tried not to wash our hands for awhile.

  13. MorganLF says:

    Karen lets see if these tunes jog your memory: Satisfaction, Jumping Jack Flash, Wild Horses, You can’t always get what you want,Sympathy for Devil, Gimme Shelter, Beat of Burden, Street Fighting Man, As Tears Go By……all Richards Jagger on lyrics. I could go on. Wished I’d have met him. But I do have a Mick Jagger story….

  14. MorganLF says:

    Oh and Liberace? Please!!

  15. cheray smith says:

    I haven’t read B,B&B yet, but I DEVOURED KR’s “Life”.

    Like Morgan, the Stones were the “soundtrack of my life”. I’ve devoured every word written about them, paying particular attention to info about Keef! I’ve been to four live concerts where I could not take my eyes off him. Every time I’ve seen him interviewed or read his comments, he comes across as a very well-spoken individual.

    You may not recognize him on the street (I would faint dead away), but surely you would recognize that unique guitar sound. There’s no sound quite like it! He’s a HELLUVA musician!

  16. cheray smith says:

    I have a Liberace story!

    Years ago, while in Las Vegas (Caesar’s Palace to be precise), I was desperate to find the ladies room and went running at top speed through the casino. Not watching where I was going but getting more and more frantic, I collided hard with a guy in a pink sports jacket.

    I looked up and MY GOD….it was Liberace. He was actually quite nice….very concerned that I had injured myself. How could I tell him that I was fine, I just desperately had to PEE!?

  17. adele says:

    Okay, Morgan, let’s hear the Mick and Liberace stories. I’m with you and Cheray, the Stones, from Satisfaction on are the music of my youth. Interestingly, I’ve seen them 5 or 6 times, the most memorable being their 1972 tour, when Stevie Wonder opened for them, and Exile on Main Street had just come out. It was an afternoon concert, and my then-beau and I spent the morning getting ourselves in just the right frame of mind, which involved Acapulco Gold (I told you I was old) and for me 1/4 of a Quaalude. The Stones played for about 2 and 1/2 hours, and we had 4th row seats.

    Cheray, I’m not surprised that Liberace had a pink sports jacket. I’ve been to the Liberace Museum in Vegas but was disappointed to find that it’s in a strip mall.

    I stayed up until about 6am to attend Will and Kate’s nuptials. I thought she looked beautiful, and that they looked very happy. Karen, did you and Adele go to the wedding? I have a feeling Adele may be blogging about it.

  18. catsworking says:

    I must have lived under a “rock” because that music is not on the soundtrack of my life. I heard it, but I paid no attention whatsoever to the song names or who was singing them. Worshipping rock groups just wasn’t my thing. I have no use for anybody singing that kind of stuff today. At all. If anything, it’s gotten more tuneless and inane.

    I can say that I probably know “Satisfaction” (and probably won’t be able to get it out of my head now) but that’s the only name that rings a bell.

    I think I read that Liberace’s home in Las Vegas is closing as a museum due to lack of interest. Sad. But I was watching an episode of Celebrity Ghost Stories on BIO recently where some female musician (can’t remember her name — see?) bought Liberace’s mirrored piano and he came with it. He made his presence known in several amazing ways and really supported her in getting established.

    Adele, Adele (the cat) and I did indeed get up early and watch the wedding together (she was so relieved that Pippa was also in white and Kate didn’t mind), and Adele has been trying all day to process her impressions for a blog post.

  19. adele says:

    Loved the old Aston-Martin in which Wills and Kate made their wedding breakfast exit. I’m nearly comatose from staying up all night and just catching a few hours sleep between 6 and 10; it’s going to be an early evening for me.

    Back to B,B,&B for a minute. Gabrielle Hamilton names her restaurant Prune because Prune was her childhood nickname, given, I think, by her mother. I think we’re supposed to understand that giving the restaurant her childhood name is supposed to be an illustration of Hamilton’s longing to recreate a family, but what do I know?

  20. catsworking says:

    Adele, your timeline sounds like you slept THROUGH the wedding. Are you sure you weren’t watching reruns of Chuck and Di? They were showing a lot of them all the night before, which is when you’re saying you stayed up.

    We got up at 5:15 a.m. Friday morning and tuned in just as Harry and William arrived at the Abbey, and watched until the kiss at about 8:30 a.m.

    What was with the staying up all night? You wouldn’t have been seeing any of the live action.

    And where did you see this information about the name Prune? Is it in the book and I missed it? (I will confess that the story is slipping through my mind like spaghetti water through a colander. I’m just to the point now where she’s cheating on her girlfriend with her future husband. Poor guy.)

  21. adele says:

    I think Wills and Kate said their vows around a little after 5 our time, so I saw that. At the point where I finally went to sleep, they’d gone off to sign the registry. I didn’t see the balcony kiss until yesterday afternoon and the Aston Martin getaway until late yesterday afternoon. I know I wasn’t watching Charles and Di, because the bride was brunette,and her sister,the maid of honor, was really hot-looking.BTW, weren’t Princesses Beatrice’s and Eugenie’s hats amazing (and not in a good way).

    I think the stuff about Gabrielle’s nick name was near the beginning of the book, but I’d have to check. I know at the time I read it, I thought I understood her reason for naming the restaurant Prune. I got the idea that none of her romantic relationships were very intense — Hamilton shows more passion when she’s talking about her kids or her mother-in-law or radishes with butter and salt (which are good, btw; of course butter and salt on anything is good).

  22. Mary Austin says:

    I loved the wedding, and just had to see it “live”, which for me meant coverage starting at 1 a.m. and going through the night. I was a tired pup the next day, but it was worth it! My favorite part was when they drove away from the palace in that gorgeous Aston Martin. These are truly modern and more down to earth royals– a future King of England actually driving himself and his bride. On other notes, I loved Adele’s Keith Richards story!

  23. catsworking says:

    Adele, I was thinking how brutal it was time-wise the further west you went. People in California had to get up at 3 a.m. to see the vows.

    Mary, it sounds like you are one of those people.

    We didn’t see all the guests arriving, but picked it up just at the right time when the guys got there. After them, the arrivals were increasingly important in stature — except for Fergie’s 2 girls in their outlandish hats and frumpy-looking dresses. What were they thinking?

    They had the whole thing planned out like a military operation.

    What we missed was the departure in the Aston Martin. After they went inside from the balcony, we figured they’d be eating lunch for a few hours (10,000 canapes!) and turned off the TV.

    Adele (the cat) just finished her post on the wedding. She’s got some behind-the-scenes stuff I think you’ll find interesting.

  24. adele says:

    10,000 canapes! I’d love to see what some of them were. Honestly Karen, if you were in Chicago or I were in Richmond, I would have invited you and Adele over for a Royal Wedding breakfast cum tea. I have an art deco tea set I would have used for the occassion. I’m sure Adele would have enjoyed some of the fishier canapes, and we all could have worn hats.

    And if Adele has seen Michelle Obama’s outfit and hair do at the Correspondents’ Dinner, I think she’d have a hard time finding fault.

  25. catsworking says:

    Adele, I think there was a list of the canapes at the official wedding website. Lots of exotic stuff mixed in with English ingredients. But there were only 650 people. That’s roughly 15 canapes per person, which seems like a lot.

    Adele the cat did see Michelle Obama’s hair at the Correspondents’ Dinner and thought it was a total mess, with that hunk hanging down the side of her face that was to the audience. She hasn’t mentioned the dress, so I don’t think she saw Michelle anywhere but sitting at the head table.

  26. adele says:

    i liked Michelle’s hair; I thought it softened her face, and the dress was by Halston — a pretty classic bronze halter dress. I thought it was a good look for her — lots of chunky jewelry, but not a belt in sight.

  27. MorganLF says:

    Karen,
    My friend Donna, who you met taped the entire wedding. On Friday we gathered at her house for tea, cucumber, smoked salmon and date nut finger sandwiches, fresh baked scones with clotted cream and jam, lemon curd tarts, and lots of wine. The table was laid out with painted china tea cups lace and linen napkins. We all wore hats, tiaras, pearls and gloves.
    Yes we are douchebags, and I loved every minute.

  28. catsworking says:

    Morgan, how funny! The paper down here reported several similar gatherings, and the ladies were all wearing hats, too.

    Right before the wedding, Karen scurried around and got out her best bone china mug and made herself a cup of tea and baked a Grands biscuit, the closest thing she had on hand to a scone.

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