GUEST POST: That Time I Almost Met Anthony Bourdain

By Holler Dweller

[I’ve run few guest posts over the years, but this essay appeared in the comments today and it’s well worth reading. I found it spot-on with what we’ve all been feeling about Anthony Bourdain’s passing, so I had to share it. Karen]

Anthony Bourdain never knew me. Certainly no one reading this knows me and I could easily be labeled a “fan,” even a distraught fan, since the tragic event of June 8. But Bourdain’s death has affected me in ways a 52-year grown woman should not be affected. Let me tell you why.

I am one of those people Anthony defended in the West Virginia episode. No, I was not in the episode. No, I am not even from West Virginia. Kentucky. Yea, I know. Kentucky is even worse in the minds of the “civilized.” Yea, I go to church. Yea, I know Bourdain didn’t. Yet, he portrayed more Christianity than what is generally sitting in the pews on Sunday morning.

He gave us respect. A rare gift in our political climate. And we respected him back. But as much as I respected and admired Bourdain, his writing, his travels, just him…and after the West Virginia episode I loved him like a family member. No matter his supposed faults or failings, I believe he was a true moral human being that cared for the lives and situations of others. This was evident. And all the more hurtful to realize that he apparently felt the kind of loneliness and despondency that bears down on generations here in the Coal Belt, the Rust Belt and the Bible Belt. In this, he certainly had much in common with us. Probably more than he knew himself. Probably more than our labelers out there care to know.

I first saw Anthony Bourdain on a No Reservations episode at probably 2 a.m., as a rerun and during my own dance with darkness. I hadn’t tried to kill myself. Entirely, anyway. But I definitely was despondent. I definitely thought about it. Then after crying myself to sleep, waking in fitful screams, muffled by the inability to get a deep breath anyway, I got up to protect my sleeping husband. I took my Buspirone and turned on the TV.

I never watched cooking shows. Why? I didn’t care to eat. Food was just one more drudgery. Why bother? There I saw this lanky guy with a humorous cockiness, but not without merit, walking around speaking in a voice that was better to me than any counselor I had heard. He wasn’t judging anyone. He was sarcastic, witty, lyrical, hilarious and bone-chillingly accurate. He sliced and diced me with words. He was basically showing me that life was in the simple…in the good. In good food. In friends and family. In life. And suddenly…all of that was…good.

I listened to reruns for four hours and fell asleep to his lyrical prose and commentary. He made me want to be a writer. To do those things. Step out of my non-comfortable zone and actually taste those tomatoes, and garlic and wine. To travel to those places. To find that life…out there.

Instead of a deep dark pit, there was a horizon and, amazingly, I could faintly see it, vicariously through him. I can still see that darkened apartment room. That flickering screen at 2 a.m. Somewhere in one of the episodes, he was walking away from the camera, he looked back over his shoulder straight at me and smiled. He was daring me to try a different life. And I felt like I might. And then. I did.

After a few devastating personal trials, I went back to school. And I kept watching him. When I felt down I watched his shows till I felt that freedom of knowing again that you can choose your reaction to the world and things around you. And just like he would later state that eating a bad hamburger caused him days of serious depression, I found that eating at a new-found place, and traveling to get there, lifted me up out of that Appalachian miry clay.

I tasted food I had never considered, coming from the poor South, and often it and the camaraderie of family and friends, transported me safely away from those long tentacles of depression. My husband, my son and I would often try out new places and rate it on whether Bourdain would like it or not.

Later, when my son begin dealing with his own crippling depression and even drug abuse, Bourdain’s travels and wit encouraged him, too. Giving him a lifelong love of cooking and food that he has always come back to. A chef’s knife, inspired by the one Bourdain writes about in Kitchen Confidential is still my Veteran son’s prized possession. At times he has awoken to his own war- induced fever dreams and…we’ve watched Bourdain at 2 a.m. together.

In the last 20 years since those black periods of my young adulthood, I not only woke up but I rose up. An Appalachian kid with mostly no hope of having much of a life, went to college on a 1.5 GPA, after being told I couldn’t. I ended up with four degrees and multiple experiences of travel and food and new friends along the way. I became a “yuge” liberal to the consternation of people who’ve known me all my life. And even when I tell them it hasn’t changed me and that they are actually closet liberals, too, they just don’t know it, they shake their heads and I…go watch reruns of a guy who gets it. He really…got it.

So, in 2016 while traveling in my big-shot, out-of-the-holler-job, I found myself in the Houston airport. My husband and I are sitting there and I look up. And I see him. He’s doing that same long-legged, lanky-arms, swinging fast-walk. And the hair. And the attitude. I poke my husband. Catch him!

My husband goes running. I am walking as fast as I can behind and I lose sight of both in that sea of forgotten travelers. Finally, I see my husband heading back. He looks sorry as he knows I really…no REALLY…wanted to meet Bourdain.

So, we watch. He watches one way, I watch the other. Like anxious parents. Or possibly crazed Beatles fans from the ‘60s. Not sure what it must have looked like. It’s funny how much you can get to know a person from watching them on TV. And how a person’s walk and manner of holding themselves will let you know who it is, even when you can’t really see them yet. Our plane boarded. I took one last look over my shoulder and we were gone.

How I wish we had caught him. I don’t know what I would have said. I wouldn’t have wanted to bother him. But I would have wanted to let him know the influence he had on my life just because of his “cooking” and “traveling” show. His work was GOOD. He was doing so much GOOD. He himself…was GOOD.

As a liberal person of faith, I would love to tell him that he was gifted by God himself. I do believe that God used that long- ago night and his influence on taking a chance and living a different life as a significant part of my own journey getting back to sanity.

If one word of our meeting could have possibly put that reciprocal flicker of hope in Bourdain’s mind at his moment of desperation, I would have run the harder and screamed the louder through that throng of people like an Appalachian church-girl would never be allowed to do. And I would have proudly proclaimed he was beloved. If only.

May you be at peace. May you have the answers you were looking for. May you somehow know the GOOD that you did for people who can never tell you. And I believe that someday we may find you…by your walk…on those loftier streets.

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41 Responses to GUEST POST: That Time I Almost Met Anthony Bourdain

  1. Ann86 says:

    This was so good. Thank you for sharing.

  2. MJ says:

    I love this. I’ve watched Bourdain when I felt that life working too much/too long in suburban Detroit (in the first bigshot career and degree of any of my family, ever) was going to swallow me whole too. So many people were touched by his work, I wish he had understood that.

  3. Tracy Moses says:

    Wow. That’s some writing Tony would have praised. I’m sure of it. I actually got teary reading it so, thank you.

  4. Rachel says:

    Thank you Holler Dweller for writing this, and Karen for posting it. I hope you won’t mind if I respond with a few personal details of my own. Apologies in advance for what will probably be a rather long-winded comment.

    I’ve been passionate about travel and exploration my entire life. I want to visit literally every country and experience as much as I possibly can of each one. Financial constraints have made it difficult, but with a lot of sacrifices I’ve been able to do some traveling over the years; trips to places like North Korea, Egypt and Central Asia have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I lived in New York for 13 years, and when I couldn’t afford to travel I eagerly took advantage of the city’s many immigrant-owned restaurants to sample various cuisines. (Of the many things I miss about NYC, the food tops the list.)

    I knew who Anthony Bourdain was for years, but I wasn’t very familiar with his work until about four years ago when I finally had cable again and found “Parts Unknown” on CNN. I was immediately hooked. I’ve watched *tons* of travel shows, and most are pretty formulaic and artless. This one was completely different. I could go on and on about how wonderful that show is, but I’d obviously be preaching to the choir here. Suffice it to say I was delighted to find a show that approached travel the same way I do.

    I am not someone who typically gets upset over the death of someone famous, even when it’s someone I really like. I enjoy a lot of Tom Petty’s songs, for example, but I don’t think I shed so much as a single tear when he passed. I felt bad for him and his loved ones, but in that and other similar situations I just never felt a great sense of loss for myself. This time is different, and I don’t know how to explain why, other than to say that when you’re very passionate about something and you see someone who clearly shares that passion doing something with it that you find exceptionally wonderful, that can be a very powerful thing.

    I’ve struggled with my reaction to all this. I feel weird, maybe even a little guilty, for feeling a sense of loss over someone I didn’t know. In part this is because I don’t feel I really have a right to it considering what his family, friends and colleagues must be going through, but also it’s because two people I actually did know had died just days earlier. On May 30, my cousin’s 31-year-old wife passed away very suddenly, and just hours after that, a friend of mine in her mid-40s died of cancer. To say that first week of June was rough would be putting it mildly, and then came the 8th. Two people I knew had just died, and there I was, crying my eyes out over someone I’d never even met. What was wrong with me?

    Because I didn’t feel I could talk about it with anyone I knew, I turned to social media to find others who were similarly shaken by this. In particular I’ve been following things people have been saying on Twitter. I saw one guy who said that when he’d been feeling especially discouraged about the ugliness in the world he turned on “Parts Unknown” to get his mind out of the gutter. I’ve seen plenty of other people saying that watching Bourdain’s shows made them want to visit places they’d never thought of going to before, try foods they otherwise never would have tried and just generally learn more about the world. There’s such value in that. Especially with what feels like ever-increasing levels of xenophobia and ethnocentrism in the world today, I can’t help but feel that he left right when he was needed most.

    I’ve long been trying to figure out if there’s some way I could use my own travel experiences to counteract the prejudice and narrow-mindedness that’s become so alarming to me in recent years. Back in May, it occurred to me that maybe I could give presentations at schools and community centers in my area, and I began to try to think of ways to set something like that up. After June 8, though, I kind of lost heart for the idea. The void left behind is so much more vast than anything I could ever contribute, and it feels pointless to try.

    Anyway, I guess all of this is to say that what you wrote at the end of your post resonated with me deeply. Self-deprecation was such a big part of his shtick that it’s hard to know how much he actually thought of himself or his work, but from what people who knew him have said I get the feeling that he really had no idea how beloved he was or how much good he did. I wish he had known. I don’t know if that would have changed the outcome, but I wish he’d known either way. And I hope that he does know now, somehow

  5. Donna Pavone says:

    Wow,Holler Dweller,you can really write! You too,Rachel. I’m envious

  6. Suzette Ciancio says:

    Worth the read. I started following “Cats Working” because of Tony Bourdain, and the fact that sometimes of of Karen’s cats writes the post xxoo

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  7. catsworking says:

    Suzette, thanks for checking in. The cats have been VERY lazy since Trump came into power, and the newest member of the team, Roc, has been a total slug.

  8. catsworking says:

    Rachel and Holler, what impresses me most about both of you is how much you’ve processed Bourdain’s death and what it meant to you, and how you share his passion for travel and experiencing new things and are able to articulate it so well.

    I also watch him when I feel like I need to “get away from it all.” As time goes on, I especially like seeing him in places I’ve also been or would like to visit. I had one magical night in Lisbon several years ago where a local took a small group of us to his favorite hole in the wall and ordered all the specialties and local wines. It was like being in a scene from No Res or Parts Unknown. Squid ink and all.

    I thank you so much for expressing your thoughts and feelings here. I feel honored that you found Cats Working as a place where you felt safe to share.

    It’s now been almost eight weeks, and this morning I woke up with him first in my thoughts again. Why? I have no idea. But it’s just a testament to the powerful influence he had and how much he’d become entwined in my life. Until recently, I was always planning my next getaway, and he was an influence on that.

    The next big trip I take, whenever it is (I’m staying home these days because Adele the cat is 18 and getting frail and needs a lot of attention), I know he will be with me.

  9. Dingobeast says:

    You are a beautiful writer. Thank you for this, for expressing what a difference he made in your life. He was such an authentic voice, he brought the world to us. I actually got into Bourdain through his writing initially, as a former restaurant person, he really nailed the work and the life. His travels and viewpoint were such a breath of fresh air, and he brought his real self and kindness along with him.

  10. Adele Prass says:

    Holler Dweller, a beautiful tribute. Made me tear up. If only Tony had known how he was loved and valued. The world wasn’t done with him yet.

  11. pixelpixie66 says:

    I am in tears, HollerDweller. Thank you so much, for sharing this.

  12. HollerDweller says:

    Thank you all for the kind words and responses! And Rachel your writing and experience has resonated with mine. I wonder if someday there might be some kind of travel/cooking scholarship in AB’s name?

    Besides being the perfect soul for what he did, I think AB tapped into some great universal truth. That food and human interaction is healing. It joins together the ripped apart places.

    When I was so depressed, clinically depressed, I could focus on the act of cooking itself and then the sharing of that with others who were communing with me. And then the fog started to lift. Adding the travel to it gets you out of that circle of despair where you think this is all there is. That is a very simple explanation and of course there were other things that helped me, but he made me “see” the possibility of other options.

    And coming from the background that I did, it was an open door for me to think about other ways of living. I’ve said many times that I’ve had the Helen Keller experience, ( you know that scene in the old classic where Helen finally “gets it” and she goes around signing everything into the hands of her teacher as fast as she can?) Bourdain woke me up like that. Unfortunately, I just never go to “sign in his hands” that I got it. I am forever grateful.

  13. Francis Alan Wormald says:

    “HOLLER DWELLER” CREATED QUITE A TESTIMONIAL! ABLE TO EXPRESS SELF QUITE WELL…A INTERESTING READ.

  14. Donna Pavone says:

    That AB is gone (and how he went) still isn’t real to me

  15. catsworking says:

    Donna, I second that. I woke up this morning thinking the very same thing.

    Holler, your comparison to the scene in The Miracle Worker is perfect. If only more people in this country had passports and used them occasionally, Trump wouldn’t have been able to gain a toehold with his racism, “the world has been screwing us for years,” and “America first” crap.

  16. Lynn says:

    Woohoo!! 7 more episodes to air on CNN this fall! Only the first will have AB’s narration.

    https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/cnn-readies-final-season-of-anthony-bourdain-parts-unknown-1202892042/

  17. Morganlf says:

    Holler Dweller…lovely piece. Made me misty. Lately I’ve been low.
    Guess Tony’s death hit me harder than I knew.

    No one has ever written bad about Tony. That he was nasty, rude or self absorbed. Because he wasn’t.

  18. Morganlf says:

    Rachel your post touched me too. I’m still quoting Bourdain as if he was alive.
    Today in fact.

  19. bamboo.skewer says:

    Thank you for writing this and sharing this, Holler Dweller. It’s beautiful! I’m happy for you that you found what you needed.

    I’m also struck by Rachel’s comment. There are now three “what were you doing when Kennedy was shot” type moments in my life. I was not born yet when Kennedy was shot.

    For me, the first was the Challenger explosion. Because I traveled to Florida the year before to see the Discovery space shuttle take off. The trip was a prize when I won a national high school science writing contest. A very proud time. Everyone knew about it. I was walking down a hall in my high school when someone passing by said to someone else, and I overheard, “hey did you hear Challenger just exploded?” My heart felt like it exploded at that moment.

    The second was 9/11. I won’t get into detail there, it’s a long story and 9/11 is surely on this kind of “what were you doing when” list for people who were old enough to form lasting memories on that day.

    At the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, I’d now say that hearing of Anthony Bourdain’s death is the third moment. I cannot say that about any other celebrity’s death. I was just waking up, just becoming conscious, and heard an announcement on NPR. NPR is my alarm clock, I listen every morning as I wake up. Something about the tone of voice … I knew how the sentence would end when it started.

    I have not yet fully processed why I personally was so affected. I have not actually cried, though I have felt choked up and got moist eyes sometimes. Never before for any other celebrity deaths have I felt that way. People come and people inevitably eventually go, that’s about how deep I get with celebrity deaths. I do tend to jump on issues where there’s an injustice. And due to a personal run-in with a narcissist, the injustices involving narcissistic personalities tend to draw me in. But I didn’t know about AA on June 8. I don’t think the dynamic with AA entirely accounts for my interest.

    There was something different about Tony’s shows. I’ve watched so many travel and food shows over the years, and never felt any attachment to the hosts. But because I saw Tony’s show on Morocco, I went to Morocco. I will go back to Morocco some day. I thought of him today as we made a vegetarian tagine (yeah yeah yeah I know what he would say about me being being vegetarian and contemplating becoming vegan — factory farming is evil to animals y’all). I thought of him as we made Ethiopian food recently. I think of him whenever I cross cultural bridges with food.

    I think it’s because there was an unusual depth to his interest. He was not just “hey let’s go to Iran because it’s now the latest place to go.” Like it’s the latest “Instagram ‘get’.” So superficial, and usually those travels are more about the person who gets to humble brag about the travel, than the place where they traveled to. Right? Tony went far deeper than that. I want to know the politics, the social issues, the family and cultural stories, the challenges, the cynical and skeptical shit going on in a country. I don’t know why I can’t be a person who’s just happy sitting on a beach with a book. But I am not. That might be it — neither was Anthony Bourdain a beach ‘n book person. I think, I’d bet on it.

    He was a far better person than I, in some ways. In how he served as a positive bridge-builder and ambassador for U.S. travelers. Without giving away too many details about myself, because I try to stay anonymous here, I have a second home in another country where my husband is from and where my in-laws live. The relationship with the in-laws is not easy. But also, I have not become who I had thought I would be. I got stuck on being pissed about some treatment of me, rather than rising above it and trying to lead relationships in a more positive way. I have work to do, on my side, to truly be a curious question-asking person when I’m at our second home. To not pass judgement of the things that don’t rise up to a standard I set. To set aside hurts and disagreements in order to enjoy more meals and moments together. To be better, to be more like Bourdain (at least, how he presented himself on camera in his shows).

    I don’t know. Maybe this is why I haven’t moved on and forgotten his death yet. Maybe there’s a good reason to not forget. Maybe his shows were much, much more than just shows on TV.

  20. Lynn, was so happy to see this tweet from Sandra Ripert this morning!

  21. L. Villeneuve says:

    Thank you Sandra for any input you have about Tony. Millions of people are waiting to see what really happened and it is really difficult and painful time.

  22. Lynn says:

    LES and East Village? Gross. I will watch despite the locations lol. Last time I ate in the East Village, in a pretty back garden area no less, I saw a huge rat climbing the garden wall feet from our table, and a smaller one on the ground. It was really hard not to react but I didn’t want to create a panic. I should be used to them by now, but jeez, not while I’m eating!!

    Bamboo – I have been vegetarian for 21 years. I will admit that I hated AB when I first discovered him, shortly after No Rez started airing, for what I felt was his infuriatingly short-sighted, dare I say ignorant, view on the subject (e.g., veg for religious reasons is fine, but veg as a choice based on facts and reason is not). I laughed when he eviscerated Woody Harrelson for eating only raw vegan food while in Thailand. Who is Woody hurting, I wondered. THIS is what keeps you up at night?? I was livid when he would defend cruel foie gras production, as if an expensive palate pleaser for rich people was even ‘food’ as most people define it.

    BUT, I grew to like him anyway, and to love his show and his writing. I am often asked by friends how I can watch his shows as he is constantly eating meat, and animals die right and left, sometimes by Tony’s own hand. My answer is because he’s that good, the shows are that interesting, and I can always fast forward until he gets to something I want to see – scenery, culture, politics, or an interesting interview. I also remind them the factory farmed animals they eat suffer their entire time on earth, vs. seconds for the animals killed on the show.

    And I believe in his final years he mellowed on the subject, having experienced really delicious veg fare (in India, Israel, Egypt) on his travels. (I had kosheri while in Egypt thanks to Tony and it was great.)

    His episode in Madagascar with vegetarian Darren Aronofosky was happily absent any criticism or wise cracks about that way of eating, and I smiled when reading Tony’s description of his travels with Darren. He was nothing but complimentary of Darren and the experience. (And Darren has written equally kind words about it and Tony). Tony even noted that Darren had to have been hungry at times, getting by on nothing but rice. There was a kind, compassionate, almost fatherly and respectful tone toward his friend and his friend’s dietary choices, and that made me very happy and increased my admiration for Tony all the more.

    I’m heading to Morocco in a few weeks and will re-watch that epi before I go.

  23. I can’t stop hearing the song “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three in my head when I think of Bourdain. I’m sure he probably hated the band. 🙂

  24. Morganlf says:

    Thanks Hob, Now I have an ear wig!

  25. bamboo.skewer says:

    Lynn, I was so happy to see Tony enjoy vegetarian food in India! I’ve been to India many times and especially in South India, the veg and vegan food options are fantastic. Enjoy Morocco! I remember that episode had a gruesome animal killing and that’s the one thing that does bother me about Tony’s shows. I kind of blank out during the meat-heavy moments. It’s true, the rest of the shows are worth it.

    I do wish he had, much earlier, been more accepting of vegetarianism. Of anyone, perhaps he could have promoted the idea more on a wider cultural level. Or at least, eat meat less often, smaller quantities, don’t make meat the centerpiece of every meal. Eating meat is terrible for the environment. We have to farm to feed all the factory animals! We are going to be facing a crisis of dramatic weather and disasters, I believe, in coming decades. It will eventually affect our food supply even in wealthy countries. We have no idea right now what we’ll be facing. We should be farming for people to eat, not animals to eat and then people to eat the animals. It’s a huge waste of water, money, land, so many resources. We should be decreasing how much meat and dairy we eat NOW, globally, for environmental reasons as well as treatment of animals. It’s a cultural and political issue, and could have been right up Tony’s alley.

  26. Lynn says:

    Bamboo I was always surprised that he didn’t at least speak out more against factory farming. He once said happy animals taste better, but it was not something he really drove home. He was such a purist I would think he’d abhor the unnatural conditions they’re kept in, the drugs used to fatten chickens to the point they can’t walk, etc.

    In one of his final interviews he said he was not a fan of the ‘Impossible Burger’ that has taken off like crazy, at least in NY (it looks, tastes and even ‘bleeds’ like meat). I found that extremely disappointing and short sighted. The whole point of that burger eventually – beyond getting meat eaters to eat less meat – is to provide a source of protein in the developing world that has a far lower carbon footprint – which is better for everyone. I tried it and it was so realistic I was grossed out. I had to literally not look at it to finish it LOL.

    I also never fully understood his ‘rudeness/grandma rule’. That if someone invites you to their home you eat whatever they put down no matter what. That your principles or religious practices should go out the window bc you’re a guest. 1. Most travelers are never going to be invited into a local total stranger’s home to eat, so it’s a rather moot point and, 2. if rudeness is the only metric, then I suppose if you’re asked to participate in say, a female genital mutilation ritual or something else morally repugnant to you but ‘normal’ in that culture, as the guest of honor, you should do it so as not to seem rude? No offense to AB but I always found that notion ridiculous. Some cultural practices are not just ‘different’, they’re vile.

    But Tony was not really a ’cause’ person. His cause was the show, getting people to be more accepting of other cultures and inspiring them to want to travel and try different foods. And lets face it if he had spoken out harder against some of these things (e.g, gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia), he would be less welcome in some places and doing the show would become more difficult.

  27. Scrambled says:

    I don’t think he was ever comfortable killing animals for food but just tried his best to steel himself because he ate them. Maybe he was so against vegetarianism because Hitler was a vegetarian. And a lot of people’s systems do have problems processing vegetable matter unless it is prepared really well.

    Perhaps in his dogged search for the root of things, he made himself do a lot of things that went against the grain of his being. For me, I am not surprised at his outcome in the end. I saw him being careless with his well-being on his shows way too many times. If he was this way and people did promote it for ratings, that is way sad.

    I wish somebody would have just loved him and just cared for him.

  28. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Scrambled. I never liked seeing the cold-blooded side of Bourdain when he participated in killing or butchering anything, although I got his point. I’m sure he saw it as part of the job, but he was also into grossing people out for fun, as evidenced by the photo of him with a pig’s head on a platter in his last cookbook.

    He did things that pushed his personal limits, and a lot of it was due to his “Grandma” rule mentioned earlier. As he got older and the fun of it wore off, he drank too much, ate too much, ate stuff he didn’t want or like, all to avoid offending his hosts.

    To this day, I can make myself burst out spontaneously laughing if I think of an early episode of No Res where he worried about being served “squeazel.” Don’t know if that’s the spelling, can’t remember the country, nor if he ever figured out what a squeazel is.

    The cats have problems processing vegetable matter. Sometimes they chomp on the houseplants for the fun of puking all over the rug.

  29. Lynn says:

    Well Hitler was also white, hetero, male and Christian, so….

    I think based on what AB wrote, he was against it for the reason most chefs are against it (don’t get me started on Mario Batali’s bitch face on The Chew whenever the topic came up). They see it as a personal affront. I get why a chef would be annoyed if someone orders a dish and wants all types of changes made (don’t put beef broth in the risotto, etc).

    Yet even after he stopped being a chef it seemed to really bug him more that it should have. But then he said he went into a spiral after eating a bad meal, so maybe things just got to him in ways they wouldn’t most people. I mean, go back and read his diatribe against Woody Harrelson. It’s hilarious. But it’s also like, whoa, really? Why are you so upset over what a movie star eats in Thailand??? If Woody wants to eat nothing but toilet paper while he’s there, so the hell what? Who is he harming?

    I do appreciate Tony’s point that if you’re gonna eat it, you should know where it came from and not be scared to see how it’s made/slaughtered. But for him to literally do the killing, goes back to my original analogy. What wouldn’t you do because you’re so scared of seeming rude? Rudeness to me is far below so many other things on the moral scale.

  30. Scrambled says:

    Thanks for your welcome. My opinion is based on the fact Bourdain almost always expressed some kind of regret after hunting or killing an animal and that he had Buddhist friends.

    Unlike many others, I think, he sought to battle self-deception of all kinds. Like, I know, I would be against factory farming, if I chose to know more about it. But my current assumption, in my chosen state of ignorance, is that practically factory farming makes meat more affordable and widely available. In fact, I prefer to turn a blind-eye to the origins of what I consume than have thoughts about it consume me.

    I also kind of understand the suspicions upon fake meat products in that people do not have historical evidence of empire building on such food.

  31. catsworking says:

    Lynn, I really can’t get into this vegetarian debate. It happens that I eat many more meatless meals than not in my life, but it never crosses my mind that I’m helping animals by doing so, nor do I consider myself a part-time vegetarian. I do eat tofu and make chili with those yucky meat substitute crumbles, but it’s more to save fat and calories than taking a moral stand.

    I agree that the way animals raised for food are treated is beyond criminal, but I don’t need to have them slaughtered in my face to know that. I try to be kind to the animals I can help, and that’s as far as my reach extends.

    I would like to try this bloody fake meat moosh you mentioned. I haven’t seen it around. I have made burgers myself out of kidney beans. They weren’t bad, but they’d never be mistaken for meat.

    I think Bourdain’s diatribes against vegans were just schtick, like picking on Guy Fieri or Emeril. I seriously doubt he had a problem with it except that he thought they miss out on a lot of flavors.

  32. catsworking says:

    Scrambled, I second what you said about factory farming. I choose to keep myself in the dark because to live with the knowledge would turn me into a basket case. I do tend not to buy meats containing bones (and have a special aversion to whole chickens) because I have a hard time dealing with skin and skeleton parts.

  33. Scrambled says:

    Also, I am not saying anything was predictable. Many guys take safety risks with their own lives that I would never take and reach the age of 80 and beyond. I am thinking of Bourdain’s alarming atv accident and his getting on an atv again but without a helmut then sustaining a concussion for another show. But he was particularly real about his mental health problems and other problems on his shows and I bet sick and tired of people missing all that and thinking his life was their idea of an ideal life. My guess is that he even sometimes used his drunkenness and shaky mental health to appear less threatening or as an excuse for not knowing how to behave appropriately.

    For me, his shows entertained more than anything else and as well, I am a fan of his beauty in his younger years and his rugged charisma in his later years. But if a celebrity like Julia Roberts chose this way out, I would have been more horrified and shocked rather than just very sad.

  34. Lynn says:

    I’ll have to agree to disagree here because I don’t think it was shtick on AB’s part. It seemed to genuinely outrage him. And early in his fame, AB made a point of taking a serious stand in favor of foie gras, probably one of the most cruelly produced food products there is besides maybe, veal. He was speaking out in favor of it right and left in interviews and slamming those who were against it. He even visited one of the facilities in NY to try to give them good publicity. And I remember thinking, wait, you’ve traveled and seen horrible things, you’ve seen children digging through used needles in land fills, and you’re choosing this as your cause? An expensive spread for rich people that comes from diseased duck liver? –

    Scrambled – I think you’re right. When I first heard the news, I was shocked, but then I remembered all the times he talked of suicide, his self destructiveness, his attraction to dark, macabre things and things that were bad for him, how he seemed to romanticize suicide and how easy it was for a simple thing like a bad burger to send him ‘spiraling into depression’ that lasted days or weeks.

    When I look at all that, no I’m not surprised. And I think even without ever meeting AA he may very well have chosen to die that way at some point later on. There most likely would have been another trigger at some point. But I’m still angry when I think that we could have had several more years of his work.

  35. catsworking says:

    Scrambled, Tony did a lot of crazy, dangerous things over the years, the ATV turnover being one of them.

    The things I most feared for him were getting bitten by something and contracting some fatal illness or getting skin cancer, believe it or not.

  36. Lynn says:

    Karen – the Impossible Burger is available at various locations around the country. Bill Gates is an investor. I know Bare Burger and some Applebees and White Castle restaurants have it.

    https://www.sfchronicle.com/restaurants/article/Mission-accomplished-Once-scarce-the-Impossible-13130270.php

    Plug your city in here and it will give you locations:

    https://impossiblefoods.com/locations/

    For a less expensive do-it-yourself option, I love Beyond Meat burgers sold at Whole Foods. 3 minutes in my George Foreman and they’re done. They are pink inside but do not ‘bleed’ like the Impossible does. The ingredients are good, too. No unhealthy crap. I’ve developed somewhat of an addiction to them, and I’m one of those picky eaters who hates everything.

  37. catsworking says:

    Thanks, Lynn. There’s a donut shop nearby that started selling burgers for some reason, and they have it. I’ll have to stop by and check it out. We only have one Whole Foods about 25 miles from here, so I seldom go there. I use my George Foreman all the time.

  38. catsworking says:

    Lynn, apologies for overlooking your comment about the foie gras the other day. I agree with you that it’s a terrible practice. But as I said before, I’m not taking a personal stand on the whole vegetarian thing one way or the other. I have no dog in that fight.

    I’m kind of surprised you haven’t mentioned him eating ortolon with his head hidden under a napkin.

  39. Lynn says:

    Gross.I never saw or heard of that incident lol. I think it speaks volumes when one has to literally hide to consume something. Glad I was unaware. I will only say I wish more people did have a dog in the fight because then we’d all be better off, certainly from an environmental standpoint. But when even Al (cough hypocrite cough) Gore refuses to reduce or eliminate his meat consumption with the laughable ‘protein’ excuse, there you go. Al majorly overweight Gore I might add. I give him props for all he’s done on the issue, but that protein BS is on par with Trump’s ‘I can’t release my tax returns because I’m under audit’.

  40. catsworking says:

    Lynn, the ortolon was described in either Medium Raw or The Nasty Bits, I believe. I flipped through them but couldn’t find it. Morgan probably remembers.

    I do what I can on the meat thing and eat little to no meat most days (can’t even remember the last time I bought steak or hamburger, and never lamb or veal, although I do eat all if I’m out and they’re served, or I stop by Wendy’s or Arby’s for a quick lunch). But I’m not going to preach meat abstinence as a lifestyle or think myself as superior because I limit my meat intake somewhat.

    I guess God screwed up bigly by not giving us all the appetite of pandas or giraffes.

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