Catching Up with Bourdain

By Karen

No Reservations Season 7 (7 ½?) just wrapped, after a bizarre mid-season do-over of the “big Season 7 premier” to hype the Cuba episode, just as the REAL Season 7 opener Travel Channel tried to sweep under the rug months earlier, Haiti, was earning several Emmy nominations. Way to go, TC!

Bourdain ended up making a few destination tradeoffs, skipping the Congo, Yemen, and Memphis in favor of Chernobyl, Kurdistan, and New Orleans.

No complaints here. Zamir’s always a treat, and I’d rather see Tony get a clean, invisible nuking than chewed up and mauled by bat-sized bugs and crocs on some fetid river through a slimy jungle.

Speaking of New Orleans, I had to leave the room before he popped that pig full of lead. OK, call me a hypocrite because I love pork, but I’ve never eaten it right after looking into its eyes. And why does he always have to rub it in by goofing around with the severed head?

I didn’t see anybody using Pam to cook the fried chicken and other local specialties Bourdain wolfed down. This show airing on the heels of his dust-up with Paula Deen seemed particularly unfortunate.

If somehow you missed it, Tony told TV Guide that Paula Deen is the “most dangerous person to America” for her unhealthy dishes, that her food “sucks,” and several other jugular-aimed zingers.

Paula responded on Fox News that Tony should “get a life,” and Time magazine wrote that she cited “being irritated” as Bourdain’s biggest contribution to America. On the other hand, she did graciously extend him an open invitation to drop by for dinner, and I bet she could cuss him under the table stone-cold sober.

I feel certain Tony didn’t realize he picked at the longstanding chip on the South’s shoulder when he dissed Deen, but he did semi-back down in an interview with NPR’s Leonard Lopate, saying he didn’t mean to sound so personal, crass, and nasty.

Condemning vegans is one thing because Tony walks the walk, but after years of stuffing deep-fried everything, tubular mystery meats, and cream-and-mayo-slathered street junk and haute cuisine alike into his cake-hole, while coasting by on this souped-up junkie/smoker metabolism and a height (6’4”) that could carry another hundred pounds before his neck starts disappearing, criticizing grease-based Southern-style cooking seemed over the top, even for him.

Makes you wonder whom he’ll target next. Alcoholics, perhaps?

The backlash against Bourdain was immediate and, sadly, caused his basic, valid point about obesity to be lost. I read many of the take-downs (including Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece in the New York Times), but I thought the most thoughtful one came from Jessica Levine at

You’ve probably heard that Travel Channel gave Bourdain a second show — 10 hour-long episodes called The Layover. It’s supposed to debut Monday, November 21, at 9 p.m., so mark your calendar. Tony and his crew returned to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Rome, Montreal, and Amsterdam to film it.

Let’s hope TC lets Layover gain some traction before yanking it after a few episodes until everyone forgets about it, then resurrecting the remnants in mid-2012 like they’re something brand-new.

In this new endeavor, TVbythenumbers described Tony as a “contemporary cultural anthropologist,” which makes him sound a lot classier than his usual tag: “former chef and bad boy.”

On other fronts …

Anthony Bourdain will be a guest character on The Simpsons’ next season. Check out his cartoon persona here. For some reason, it’s circa 1995.

Sophia Chang has designed Bourdain destination posters. You can see a few of them here and here.

Tony’s wrote a sweet letter to Josh Homme’s daughter, Camille, after the U.S. Desert NR to explain why he smashed Daddy’s guitar against a tree. You can just imagine what his conversations with Ariane must be like. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

And here’s a picture of Tony with Cole’s celebrity friend, Lupetto Bourdain, that received 6 paws up at Cats Working, even though Lupetto complained the photographer’s angle made him look chunky.

(Photo - Ottavia Bourdain, with permission)

Cole and Max asked me to include this message to Paula Deen and her fans:

“Any man who loves black cats can’t be all bad.”


13 Responses to Catching Up with Bourdain

  1. Imabear says:

    I confess to having missed several episodes of the latest NR season, thus I was happy to find TC re-running them yesterday in a Labor Day marathon. I had seen part of Cuba, but only saw the entire episode yesterday, along with Naples, Kurdistan, and the American Desert one. The Desert was my fav as I live in Southern California and all the places were familiar. I’ve been planning to go to the Integraton for a long time but never made it (Tony kept calling it the Integratron for some reason). Glad I missed the one with the pig getting shot, though.

  2. MorganLF says:

    Andrew Zimern also had an interesting defense of Tony that I totally agreed with:

    I love that the Bourdain character on the Simpsons is wearing “mandals” tho’ it would have been wayyy funnier if they showed him sporting the “jelly shoes” those strappy things he wore in a fishing scene some years ago.

    BTW just scored a couple pf tix to a Big Food & Wine all day event in NYC on October 2. There will be 2 stages and a bif line up- Bobby Flay, Duff Goldman, Morimoto and Jamie & Bobby Dean at 3PM and our Boy Tony at 5:15. I am totally with him on this argument. Paula Deen is an awful dangerous cook, her food is stomach turning and without merit of any sort. She is corporate shill for a company that is known for inhumane practices and union bustiing, not to mention a major supporter of the Republican Party, Smithfield.

  3. MorganLF says:

    PS: Lupetto is quite the handsome lad.

  4. Imabear says:

    Hey, MorganLF, thanks for that Zimern link. Really a good commentary on his part.

    Eating healthy is a lifestyle choice. As someone who grew up on Southern cooking, I sometimes indulge in fried chicken. But I don’t live on it – and I think that’s the big difference.

  5. catsworking says:

    Morgan, thanks for that link. Zimmern jumping into the fray was interesting.

    I must confess I’ve never watched much Paula Deen. Living in Virginia, I’m just not interested in greasy and fattening cooking. I already know how to do it, and I try to avoid it as much as possible. I have an unopened can of Crisco in my pantry that I believe I brought with me from my former apartment — 24 years ago. And I bet if I opened it today, it would still be factory-fresh.

    Smithfield Foods is based in Smithfield, VA, which is out in the sticks of the western part of the state, along with Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. That it leans far right comes as no surprise.

    A revered “delicacy” (and a big party-pleaser) around here is “ham biscuits” made by slapping a piece of bone-dry, salty Smithfield ham onto a sawdusty and similarly taste-free snowflake roll. That’s it. No condiments. It’s indescribably NASTY, but people love that shit.

    Imabear, I think Naples was my favorite episode this season.

  6. Nina says:

    Now that’s a CAT!

  7. adele says:

    I’m no big Paula Deen fan myself — despite the fact that I find many unhealthy foods delicious, her recipes are mostly too full of butter or mayonnaise or overcooked vegetables to be appealing. I did think calling her the most dangerous person in America (or was it the world?) was the famous Bourdain hyperbole taken way too far — there’s such stiff competition for that honor. The example of the recipe that Tony sited, though, was a doozy — a breakfast sandwich made of the usual egg, cheese, and meat, served on a split glazed doughnut. And as Morgan said, Smithfield Foods is known of inhumane practices; they’ve been sited for unhealthy conditions, and they’re big time union busters.

    The best article I read about the Bourdain/Deen feud was in The Village Voice. It pointed out that contrary to Frank Bruni’s statement, both parties represent culinary elites. Paula could probably buy Tony a couple of times over — her Smithfield endorsement is that big — and her portraying herself at this point as a woman of the people is preposterous. While giving Paula her props for charity work, The Voice article also pointed out that Bourdain’s Haiti show and appeal for continuing aid about a year after the quake, brought attention back to that country and crashed the servers of Sean Penn’s charitiy. And we know that Tony does many charity events each year. Hell, even the day Ottavia manned the Big Gay Ice Cream truck, the proceeds went to Doctors Without Borders

    Ham biscuits were one of my great disappointments. I always figured that I like ham; I like biscuits, but I also found them pretty dry and unappealing. BTW Karen, there’s Smithfield ham, which is produced by law only in certain parts of Virginia and North Carolina, cured a certain way and fed a certain way (I think peanuts may be included), and then there’s Smithfield Foods, which produces all kinds of pork products.

    Naples was my favorite NR episode this year as well, but I also really liked the Louisiana episode — as much because I’m charmed by almost all of the music that comes out of Louisiana. The first time I heard Cajun music, about 40 years ago, I was hooked,and I’ve actually collected some rare recordings over the years. I’m still thinking about the crawfish boil as well; it looked very good. I may have had my head turned as well, but I don’t remember seeing that pig (named Antony Boudin) go down; I thought we might have been spared that footage. And in the Ukraine episode, I finally liked Zamir. I’ve never been a big fan,but seeing him at home gave another dimension to his character.

  8. jimmie chew says:

    we will be going to the NYC Food and Wine fest, i hope we dont see Bobby Dean, thats all i ask for. love the post.

  9. Zappa says:

    I feel i must defend the ham biscuit! I grew up eating baking soda drop biscuits with Smithfield ham and a little squeeze of honey and a quick dash of hot mustard.What’s not to love? That Smithfield ham that came in a linen bag was delicious!

    For all of my organic berries,fresh spinach and time on the inner fattie wants to eat everything that Paula Deen makes.I made her apple cake with rum glaze for a party and every last crumb disappeared,ditto her sour cream biscuits.

    Time for my high fiber cereal with a splash of almond milk



  10. catsworking says:

    ZM, OK, the biscuits would be improved immensely with honey and hot mustard. I might even be able to choke one down. But they fix them “commando” around here. Where I come from, there’s no such thing as a ham sandwich without cheese and mustard on it.

    Adele, when I see “Smithfield,” I think only of the Virginia ham. I didn’t know there’s another Smithfield company.

    Here’s my guilty little secret: Food Lion fried chicken. It’s surprisingly good, given Food Lion’s reputation with meat. I don’t ask too many questions about it. Crunchy skin, moist inside. I’ve passed on rotisserie chicken TWICE to buy that fried stuff, and I felt guilty every time I put it in my mouth, but it was delish.

    OK, now I go back to my yogurt with freeze-dried acai berry stirred in. (BTW, that acai berry does NOTHING for reducing belly fat, all the online hype nonwithstanding. But it does help to keep you regular.)

  11. adele says:

    Okay, ZM, to be fair to ham biscuits, I’ve only had them at catered receptions, so they may not be the freshest or the best. A little mustard or honey could only improve them.

    Karen, fried chicken is all the rage in Chicago. A couple of restaurants are offering a fried chicken dinner once a week, and even the restaurant in the Chicago Four Seasons is offering a $35 prix fiixe fried chicken dinner a couple of times a week. I confess to having a weakness for the Colonel, and I thank my lucky stars that there’s no longer a Colonel anywhere near my house.

  12. Zappa says:

    Its a struggle avoiding Popeye’s

    *scratches acai berries off shopping list*


  13. catsworking says:

    Speaking of acai berry, let me give it to you straight if you haven’t tried it because I really researched it:

    The only halfway effective form is pure freeze-dried, where you’re actually getting nothing but the berry. Those juices and pills are crap. Also, the product should have “USDA Organic” on the label. The ONLY brand I could find that filled the bill was Sambazon at the Vitamin Shoppe or GMC. And it’s expensive. Like $23 a jar that lasts 30 days if you use as much as they say on the label. You only need 1,500 mg a day.

    Forget everything you see on the label about “putting it into everything” for a delicious, healthful boost! That shit doesn’t dissolve and it’s a bit fluffier than laser printer toner. I first tried putting it in a cold drink and it laid on the top like mud. Then I tried putting it in hot coffee. It clumped like wet grounds and there was no way to drink it without puking.

    The ONLY thing I’ve been able to do with it is mix it with yogurt. It turns the yogurt purple and does affect the taste a little (not an improvement), but it doesn’t dissolve. And I put yogurt on cereal instead of milk so I don’t end up with a bowl of lumpy milk, so the acai gets lost and I can deal with it.

    I’ve been using it for many months and I can’t say it’s done anything but help somewhat with elimination. Once it’s gone, I’m quitting.

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